A Perfectly Pregnant Sasa Brown Performs PerfectlyWednesday, September 12, 2012
Some of you who read here might know I have an open-ended project in which I photograph people I know who represent a varied amalgam of professions with my mother’s red Mexican rebozo. My subjects then write an essay (on anything) to accompany the blog posting. Recently I approached actress (I like actress) Sasa Brown. Her reply is below.
Hey Alex, I'm so sorry for the delay in replying. I'm not sure if you knew but I'm pregnant. And doing this show while I'm still getting sick has zapped any energy I thought I might have. I've been just trying to get through each day without running off stage to find a bucket!! Haha!! The joys of pregnancy I'm discovering!!!
You can imagine my shock last Wednesday when my wife and I attended the Arts Club Theatre Company opening performance, at the Stanley, of Bruce Norris’s Clybourne Park and when the curtain went up there was a very pregnant Sasa Brown. Why the shock?
Unlike my Rosemary, who reads up on plays and thoroughly consumes the program before any play begins, I did not know that Brown’s character in the first half of the play, Betsy, is of a woman who is pregnant.
I know that the folks in costumes and makeup can instantly convert the slimmest of actresses into pregnant soon-to-be mothers. I wondered. Is Brown really pregnant?
Down a couple of seats I spotted director John Wright (no relation to Clybourne Park's director Janet Wright, but father of director Johnna Wright). I consulted with him. With a twinkle in his eyes (I suspect he had read the program) he told me, “One way or another we will know in the second act as the actors play different roles 50 years later.”
Well you must know, in a sort of slight plot revelation, that Sasa Brown’s Lindsey is a role in which the woman is pregnant, too!
My conclusion became that even if Sasa Brown might be a method actor throwing up on purpose to feel the part of being a pregnant, she perhaps was pregnant. But I wasn’t sure.
After the play that left my wife and I exhausted with the laughing and the delight of watching 7 actors, Sebastien Archibald, Daren Herbert, Marci T. House, Robert Maloney, Andrew Wheeler (who I have been told has a killer suave Cary Grant routine) and Deborah Williams perform with a continuous virtuosity, consulted with dramaturg (no e at the end) Rachel Ditor who indeed did confirm that Brown had been losing her lunch the previous weeks because she is pregnant.
Clybourne Park might seem like a play of its times where in the first part the blacks (Negroes in the parlance of Chicago in 1959) are prevented from moving and spoiling the value of homes in all-white neighbourhoods. In the second part, 50 years later, our African American couple (formerly the Negroes) played by Marci T. House and Daren Herbert (Music Man, an Italian in Light in the Piazza, Glengarry Glen Ross and Intimate Apparel and I hope this enormous talent is persuaded to stay in Vancouver!) play sophisticates out to protect the history of their neighbourhood which might be destroyed by white couples keen to upgrade.
But I noticed that the play somehow becomes contemporary. The word rape crops up in a most Republican way proving that good plays transcend their time.
While Sasa Brown may not have had to dip into method acting to play the pregnant woman, consider that in that first act she plays a loopy hearing-impaired woman with a domineering husband. Her performance brought to mind another by Meg Roe in the Vancouver Playhouse production of Joan MacLeod’s Toronto, Mississippi. We in Vancouver are lucky to have them both.