Casting my science fiction play The Other Two Men (review) was difficult. A lot is at stake: while we’ve joked about landing spaceships on stages, smoke machines, and robots for comic relief this play is science fiction with no special effects — just these two characters and their unique problem about history, predetermination (genetic, sociological, and psychological), and choices. Tomer Oz (Oz Productions) and I knew that the casting could make or sink the play before the first table read. We had two auditions and callbacks and were at a bit of a loss with so many talented and experienced actors to choose from.
We both kept notes and checked in with each other – but I could not feel any winnowing happening as we went through a long day of callbacks. During a late break near the end of the day we turned to each other and said, “I really like Bailey for Nebraska II.” This was not a decision: Tomer was casting a two-hander, a very small ensemble cast – one promising actor on his own is not ‘an ensemble’. My director shook his head. “Who I cast for one part will depend on who I cast for the other part.” He remarked.
During rehearsals I’ve been trying to put my finger on what caught my interest in Bailey Weakley’s audition and callback: it’s continued to be there. I think it’s actually two things: he’s able to portray a complexity or gravity that reads older than his actual age (a particularly important trait for this part, given the revelation at the end of the play) and he’s good at putting across several things at once. The part of Nebraska II in The Other Two Men is thankless – the character is a walking box of defense mechanisms who hides behind his masculinity and his military profession. I spent quite a while worrying that any actor in his 20’s might hold onto those aspects a little too tightly …. and the part does not give many chances to see the character without those masks.
Bailey portrays Nebraska II as someone who has needed to build a protective shell and he gives the character more depth than he has on the page. This perceptive choice makes the role into an intelligent man who is always thinking – and feeling at least three things at once, including the reasons why he isn’t just saying what’s on his mind. It is still a role that could push away an audience’s sympathies (as well as the other character, Saskatoon II’s (Emery Lawrence)) but Bailey gives the part a touching sweetness that makes you want both characters to find their way through the play’s strange dilemma.
Looking at Bailey’s professional experience I can see where this comes from: he’s been acting for 15 years. His last role at the Players’ Ring (in Memento Maury) called for him to stand on stage – wearing a full mask – while projecting an ominous numenosity. Not easy, and not easy to keep that moment from becoming silly or absurdist, but it lifted the play (along with outstanding monologues by James Ouellette and Shaughnessey H. Gower) into the realm of chill-inducing metaphor. Bailey’s training and experience comes from work at New Hampshire Theatre Project. Notable roles include: Valentine (Shakespeare’s Two Gentlemen of Verona), Mortimer Brewster (Arsenic and Old Lace) and Berenger (Rhinoceros).
Bailey was also the assistant stage manager for Memento Mary. A Portsmouth local, he is an artist of broad and genuine talent: he is also musician and an expressionist painter. He will soon be releasing an album with his band, Marvel Prone — and see one small part of his extraordinary talent in “The Other Two Men” (review) —
Oz Productions is proud to present:
The Other Two Men: A New Science Fiction Play by Lisa Shapter
with Emery Lawrence and Bailey Weakley
at The Players’ Ring Late Night Series
July 15-24, 2016
10 p.m. Fridays & Saturdays
9 p.m. Sundays
or call: (603) 436-8123
- Lisa Shapter