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Interview with Charles Evered

By Gary Wien


Charles Evered is a playwright and journalist who took his degrees from Rutgers and Yale University. Presently, he is an Assistant Professor at Emerson College in Boston. The world premiere of his play Celadine recently took place at George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick. The show is scheduled to run until December 12th. I spoke to Evered about the play and his wonderfully detailed female characters - a place few male writers dare to go yet a place where Evered seems to be succeeding greatly.

Celadine is the third in a trilogy of spy related plays.
A) That's right. I wrote a trilogy of plays about spies and the first one was called Wilderness of Mirrors, which George Street Playhouse did last year for their first show. The second was called Clouds Hill and that premiered in San Jose in September of this year. I directed that one out in California and it's actually going to be published in a month or two. And Celadine is the last play in the trilogy.

One of the things that really struck me by watching Celadine was the challenge you took by writing such detailed female characters. That's something that a lot of men obviously have trouble with and shy away from.
Well, it's something that took me a while. We develop as writers; we don't start out knowing something until we work on it. When I started writing as a younger writer, I just didn't write female characters because I didn't know enough about women to really delve into them. So a lot of my early plays are mostly about guys in trouble or guys reaching a crisis or something. And then what happened to me, which was a blessing, was my wife Wendy.

She's a terrific actress and she's really influenced me in terms of the kind of writing I was doing for women. She would read my early drafts and just throw the draft across the room and say, 'write a person – you're writing all these archetypical people that you think are women but you're not writing really fleshed out people.' She was a great inspiration for me to write more succinctly about women and to give them the type of parts they deserve. As you know, there aren't many parts for actresses of a certain age in movies anymore. So to get two actresses like Amy (Irving) and Leslie (Lyles) on stage together, I need to write to their talent level. I wrote these two parts with both women in mind, so it helped.

Leslie was in Wilderness of Mirrors and Amy had appeared in a short play of mine a couple years ago in New York. So I knew their talent and structured these parts to be exactly built for them. They have a real thing going on in more ways than one. They have a relationship that goes even beyond the writing, so it was a real joy to work with them.

I thought that Amy Irving did a wonderful job, but it seemed a bit like Leslie Lyles may have upstaged her somewhat.
In some ways, Leslie has the kind of sexier part in the sense that she gets the laughs. Mostly they have, to me, huge strengths but in different ways. For instance, Amy really is the crux of the play – meaning she's the story of the play. She's the reason the play happens. Where as Leslies is the comic foil. I kind of relate it to Animal House. There's all these different stories but who do you remember? It's John Belushi stuffing his mouth with food and stuff like that. But when you think of Animal House, you don't say it's about John Belushi it's just he had those memorable scenes.

I gave Leslie specific comedic scenes, but it takes someone with Amy's talent to really nail the emotional core, which is the loss of her daughter. I tried to write to their strengths. While Amy's very funny if you meet her in person, Leslie's more known for comedy and Amy is known more for drama. I just feel so blessed to have both of them. It was funny on opening night, Amy announced, 'I will never do another play unless Leslie Lyles is in it!' And I think she's smart because they're just great together.

Speaking of comedic scenes, the funniest scene in the play actually deals with Amy's character having someone mend her clothes under her skirt. It's an amazingly funny scene as another character tries to have a conversation with Celadine while a man is under her skirt and there's lots of grunting, movements, and sexual innuendo jokes going on. That must be about a five-minute scene.

It's funny, a friend of mine is a comedy writer for the show Monk on USA Network. He lives here in Madison and called me the next day to dissect that scene with me. He was like, 'how do you keep that going and keep an audience interested?' What I actually did was write it twice as long as it is. What you saw was half of what it used to be and when we rehearsed it, it wasn't funny because it just went on too long. So I cut it in half. I give the audience less, in a way, and they want more. It's something I learned about comedy, and am still learning, which is always give them a little less. To leave audiences a little hungry isn't a bad thing.

Was this the first play of yours with such deep female characters?
I think this is the play in which my female characters are most realized. The character that Leslie played in Wilderness of Mirrors was a good character, but not as deeply drawn as these two. I hope to keep doing this because I'm really blessed to be known in some quarters of New York City for some wonderful actresses in my plays. And they're always asking me to write more for them. So, I say to myself, man if Hollywood and television are so stupid that they won't cast these women... well, then I'm going to give them great parts!

Writers should literally think of the fact that these women need these parts. They just aren't out there for them. I've always told playwrights who are writing to think about that because it's something we can do that people in Hollywood can't. The Hollywood people will say, 'wait a minute, the demographic is 14-year old boys to 21-year old boys.' And that's true in Hollywood. They want to see things blow up and they want to see naked girls. But in the theatre people want to see fully drawn women who have lives and who have lost and who are funny and are dramatic.

Celadine runs now to December 12th at George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick.



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Princeton Chinese Theatre in collaboration with the Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Theater present Teahouse by Lao She
(PRINCETON, NJ) --Princeton Chinese Theatre in collaboration with the Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Theater at Princeton University will present Teahouse by Lao She on November 16, 17 and 18 at 8:00pm and November 17 at 2:00pm in the Donald G. Drapkin Studio at the Lewis Arts complex on the Princeton campus. Teahouse is considered a masterpiece of contemporary Chinese theater, spanning 50 years in modern Chinese history from the collapse of the Qing dynasty and the Republican Revolution to the birth of the People’s Republic, bringing together over sixty characters who represent all walks of life. The production is directed by senior Changshuo Liu.
Axelrod's Rising Stars Youth Performing Arts Program Presents "Peter Pan"
(OCEAN TOWNSHIP, NJ) --  A family musical that’s perfect for the holiday season, “Peter Pan” is flying onto the Axelrod stage December 8-16. Axelrod’s award-winning Rising Stars Youth Performing Arts program presents one of Broadway’s timeless classics in a fully staged production directed by Lisa Goldfarb with musical direction by Randy Hurst and choreography by Wendy Roman.  
Mile Square Theatre Presents It’s a Wonderful Life: a live radio play
(HOBOKEN, NJ) --  Mile Square Theatre, Hudson County’s leading professional theatre, revives its beloved production of It’s a Wonderful Life: a live radio play by Joe Landry. Mile Square Theatre becomes a live recording studio in the golden age of radio, and MST theatre goers become the studio audience as WMST “goes on air” to broadcast Frank Capra’s popular holiday story. The production begins performances on Thursday, November 29 and runs till Sunday, December 23.  
East Lynne Theater Company presents "O. Henry's Christmas Tales"
(CAPE MAY, NJ) -- "One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That's all I have, and tomorrow is Christmas," sighed Della in "The Gift of the Magi," just one of the O. Henry stories adapted and performed by Gayle Stahlhuth, who brings to life thirty-plus characters in her memorized, unique tour-de-force storytelling style. For seven times only, the award-winning Equity professional East Lynne Theater Company will present "O. Henry's Christmas Tales."  With the exception of "Gift of the Magi," these stories have never been performed before by Stahlhuth.  Performances take place on Friday and Saturday, November 23 and 24, Sunday, December 2, Thursday through Saturday, December 6 – 8, all at 8:00 p.m. with a 2:00 p.m. matinee on Saturday, December 8.
Broadway Stars To Perform At Paper Mill For 2nd Annual Broadway Beats Hunger Event
(MILLBURN, NJ) -- Broadway’s best will come together for the holidays to support the second annual Broadway Beats Hungerp erformance at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, New Jersey on December 10 at 7:00pm. All proceeds raised will go directly to Summit Medical Group Foundation and Community FoodBank of New Jersey’s joint initiative, Food, Health and Hope: An Answer to Diabetes,which is committed to reducing the impact of New Jersey’s deadly diabetes epidemic.


Broadway’s Next H!T Musical LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center
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The Last Apple Pie: "Apples In Winter" Opens At Centenary Stage
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See Andrea McArdle LIVE! in Annie at Deal Park’s Axelrod PAC!
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"It's a Blast!" Go See Rock of Ages 10th Anniversary Tour NOW! at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino!
The five-time Tony award-nominated Broadway musical, Rock of Ages, returns to the stage with a 10th Anniversary Tour at Atlantic City’s Hard Rock Hotel & Casino! Performed in the venue’s ultra-modern Sound Waves theater, Rock of Ages runs from now until November 4, 2018.
There's One In Every Family: "Charley's Aunt" at The Shakespeare Theatre
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Event calendar
Monday, Nov 12, 2018


MUSIC

DAVID SANCIOUS & WILL CALHOUN @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 7:00pm

WHEN BROADWAY GOES DARK, VAN DYK GOES LIVE @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 7:00pm

Bickford Benefit All-Stars @ Bickford Theatre at the Morris Museum, Morristown - 7:30pm

In Dreams: Roy Orbison in Concert – The Hologram Tour @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 7:30pm

MUDDFEST 2019 @ Mainstage @ Union County Performing Arts Center (UCPAC), Rahway - 7:00pm


THEATRE

Elf The Musical @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 7:30pm

Auditions: Cinderella or the Story of Bigfoot @ Studio Playhouse Upper Montclair, Upper Montclair - 6:30pm







FILM

Free Solo @ The Newton Theatre, Newton - 7:00pm


LITERATURE


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