When director Tomer Oz (Oz Productions) and I met to talk about staging my science fiction play The Other Two Men (review), we agreed one of the most important elements was casting. We continued to talk about it through two auditions and callbacks. We heard nearly every young male actor in the region, we talked about the play and its two characters, and I mulled over the positives of the casting at last November’s reading (Generic Theater’s Collin Snider and Alex Pease).
One of those many positives was age: Alex and Collin are both seasoned actors. The Other Two Men is a play about a relationship (in the entire breadth of the term) and last Fall’s reading left me in a quandary: this script asks a lot of actors who are the same age as the characters (early 20’s) – depth of lived experience, professional craft, and the ability to ‘open up’ a text full of idiosyncratic science fiction ideas and peculiar experiences no one in this world has gone through (i.e. being raised in a living history museum).
I should not have worried: both Emery Lawrence and Bailey Weakley have the empathy and talent to run away with these two parts. Both of them are in their 20’s with the called-for ‘energies’ and they are a good match as performers: theater audiences often try to pick one standout performance and I look forward to the lobby conversations where no one can finish a sentence for praising both of their work.
One of Emery’s great strengths is his way of reading a script. He has directed (Paula Vogel‘s The Baltimore Waltz). He writes himself and is a Creative Writing minor. I have had the privilege of watching him think (and feel) through the script, scene by scene. From his first table read, his character (Saskatoon II) had a vividness and subtlety that has only gotten more complex and breathtaking over rehearsals. (I recommend getting a seat close to the stage.)
Emery’s primary strength is his innate ability as an actor. He is a Theater & Dance major at Colby, and their program is a thorough one including acting, directing, designing, and play writing. He has played Orlando (Orlando), Sylvio (The Servant of Two Masters), and Butt the Hoopoe (Haroun and the Sea of Stories). At Colby’s student-run theater club, Powder and Wig, Emery has played Jacques (The Miser), Alfred (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead), and Romeo (Goodnight Desdemona, Good Morning Juliet). In fact, this Fall, he’ll be attending the National Theater Institute at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center.
He doesn’t have an easy part in The Other Two Men. Saskatoon II is a voice of hope but in lesser hands the character could come across as something of a nag. He spends much of the play trying to persuade the other character, Nebraska II, out of a place of empathy – but it’s a subtle thing to get right and a difficult, rather quiet, inner life to put across to an audience. Emery does a spectacular job with this part – come out and see how well he handles every dry joke, strange conundrum, and each place where you watch this character thinking through his own self-determination and these two characters’ mutual happiness.