by Anna Ziegler
Let the Nadelmans help you find Another Way Home in a funny, moving, and uplifting examination of what it means to be a family in this world premiere by Anna Ziegler. While visiting their son at summer sleep away camp, obsessive middle-aged Jewish parents Lillian and Philip are compelled to question everything they thought they understood about their children, their marriage, and their true desires...
“engagingly told with flashes of poignant humor, and vividly performed under the direction of Meredith McDonough”
- Robert Hurwitt, San Francisco Chronicle
“[Another Way Home is] an insightful memory play that wins us over with its freshness and wit, only to reveal unexpected depths. The playwright etches this family with tenderness but also with bracing honesty so that it's hard not to see yourself in all of the characters on stage at one moment or another.”
- Karen D'Souza, San Jose Mercury News/Bay Area News Group
“Another Way Home [by playwright Anna Ziegler] is the type of thought-provoking, contemporary material I so enjoy about Magic (in addition to its beautiful location at Fort Mason, overlooking the Bay). It’s fresh, current, and hip. Recent productions… reinforce artistic director Loretta Greco’s ability to continually source voices that push the envelope of conventional theater.”
- Clinton Stark, Stark Insider
“[Another Way Home is] a laugh-packed serio-comedy that shoves family life under a microscope. The dialogue by playwright Anna Ziegler is ironic, sardonic, poignant, insightful and funny — with each sensation rapidly piling atop the next.”
- Woody Weingarten, Marinscope
Development of Another Way Home was supported by the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center during a residency at the National Playwrights Conference of 2011. Preston Whiteway, Executive Director; Wendy Goldberg, Artistic Director.
Developed as part of Chautauqua Theater Company’s New Play Workshop series, 2010.
The play is a recipient of an Edgerton Foundation New American Plays Award.
Carrie Hughes: Anna, how did you start writing plays? What led you to being a playwright?
Anna Ziegler: I took my first playwriting class in high school. At the school I went to, St. Ann’s in Brooklyn, it was the really cool class that everyone wanted to take. We had a playwriting festival, where you directed your own one act at the end of the year. Mine was called An Off Night and it was indeed an off night! It was a little bit of a disaster. But I still remember that very first experience of sitting in the audience watching your play as being what it still is, one of excitement and fear. I remember clutching my best friend’s hand, just completely terrified..I also always wrote a lot of poetry, and my mother, over the years, would encourage me to write plays. My poems included a lot of dialogue and she’d say, oh, I think this would translate really well into dialogue in a play. In college I took two playwriting classes, one with Donald Margulies my sophomore year and another with Arthur Kopit my senior year. Arthur Kopit admitted me to the class on the basis of a poem. He was very supportive of my writing plays and he happened also to teach in the grad program at NYU at the time, I was a senior and I had no idea what to do with my life. And he thought it would make sense for me to go to grad school in playwriting. So really, without too much thought, I applied to that program and then went to it, and have been writing plays ever since.
CH: One of the things I love about you as a writer is how diverse your body of work is. You’ve written historical biographies (Photograph 51), plays about politics and religion (Dov and Ali), adaptations of myths (Minotaur), and lots of other things, and those plays vary a lot stylistically as well. That said, in all that variety, are there any themes or styles that you find yourself coming back to time and time again?
AZ: Certainly the themes of betrayal and forgiveness come up a lot, and of accepting the reality and imperfection of love, especially committed, lifelong love. I also tend to write about characters grappling with the stories in which they find themselves..And stylistically, although I don’t write very much poetry anymore, I console myself with the idea that I haven’t completely given it up because it finds its way into my plays. I do often make a conscious effort to incorporate that side of myself.
CH: How did you come to write Another Way Home?
AZ: I was inspired by a number of things. One was the tone and style of Six Degrees of Separation, which I had been teaching at St. Ann’s. Another was the setting—I’d always wanted to set a play at a sleep-away camp, which I thought was good, rich territory in a lot of ways. And then, I did want to write a play about a family. It occurred to me at a certain point that none of my plays were about family, or involved an entire nuclear family. Many of my plays have teenagers in them; many have adult characters, but not all together in a family unit. So that suddenly seemed like a challenge and a goal and felt right for this play.
CH: You’ve been working on this play for a little over two years, I think. How has the play changed over that time, in the broadest sense?
AZ: It has changed and evolved a lot; in fact, it had a more dramatic evolution than most of my other plays have had. The cast of characters hasn’t stayed the same, for one, which is huge — to add and then remove whole characters and storylines. It was indicative of my struggle to find what was really at the heart of the play, I think. It began as a play that centered on issues of prejudice and class and race, and even though the framework of the story has stayed the same, a lot of the focus has changed. But ultimately, this is, and probably always was, a play about what it means to be in a family. And it’s a family that I hope people recognize. I think all families are pretty flawed and this one is certainly no different, but the play is really about what it is to come to terms with the difficulty of love and commitment and what it takes to be in a long term relationship—with your spouse, but also with your children. What is it to love your child but also not understand him.
CH: I’ve been working on this play pretty consistently, but you’ve had a number of different directors and actors in workshops and readings around the country, and now the dramaturgy wonderful team we have at the Magic. I think one of the things I struggle with, that lot of people working on new plays struggle with, is that we want to help, we want to be useful to you, but we also don’t want to screw up what is ultimately your play. Theatre is such a collaborative art form. How do you as a playwright take the perspectives of all your collaborators while remaining true to your own voice?
AZ: It’s a really good question. It’s really difficult. But if, in an early reading of a play, you hear a character or a scene in a way that just sounds right, I think you know that you’ve found that character or that scene, and you stick with it over the course of the evolution of the play. That said, I think it’s incredibly difficult to know what your voice is. As you said — I think my plays are very different. It’s not for me to say if they have a consistent voice or not. I think as I am getting more experienced I’m getting a little better at recognizing what’s truly important to me and then sticking to my guns about it. And I think it also has to do with having people you really trust who have read multiple drafts of your play and have a context that cuts across all the different directors and actors who have been involved over time. To have someone, or a couple people, who are not you, who have some perspective and objectivity about your play, is really invaluable.
CH: One of the things Loretta talked about at first rehearsal is how there aren’t so many writers who write well for many generations, but you do that very, very well. You are significantly younger than Phillip and Lillian, and obviously you are older than Joey and Nora…
AZ: It’s true, I’m kind of in the middle.
CH: Can you talk about writing Philip and Lillian? You don’t have any children yet, but a number of actors who’ve worked on this piece, who do have children, comment on how you get that experience right. How do you approach writing characters who are somehow outside the realm of your experience? Parenthood in particular, being such a specific experience — I know a lot of people who don’t have kids feel nervous writing about it.
AZ: Well, in some ways, it’s more fun and more free to write a character who’s much different from you than it is to write one who bears the burden of capturing you or what you’re thinking/feeling at a given moment in time. That never feels satisfying — you never feel you’ve gotten it right — so in that sense it’s much better, psychologically, to try to capture someone different, not to mention how much fun it is to inhabit someone who lives in a world you barely recognize..In terms of writing about parenthood in particular, I think I’m even more interested in it because I’m not a parent. Parents say that love for a child is more powerful than any other kind of love and I wanted to dig into that and also imagine the complications that would arise within a marriage, as a result.
CH: On the other hand, you have written about teenagers in number of your plays. What about that stage of life draws you to write about it?
AZ: I do love writing teenage characters. Part of it is how honest teenagers are, how they really can’t hide what they’re thinking and feeling and everything is really important, which is what you want in a play. You want to engage with people who feel the stakes are very high. There’s just so much humor and drama that exists in the world of teenagers and it’s great fun to me.
CH: Getting back to camp. You said you thought camp was a fertile place to write about. Why? What about camp seems dramatic, for lack of a better word?
AZ: Certainly growing up, or the inability to grow up, are themes or fascinations that show up again and again in my plays. (Let’s not read too much into that!) And camp sort of literalizes that. It’s a place that represents childhood in its most magical form and therefore is a place where adults would feel out of place, particularly alienated and particularly adult. It’s also the perfect setting to explore someone who isn’t sure if he’s grown up, isn’t sure how to grow up, and is really stuck between those two worlds.
CH: One of the things we’ve been talking a lot about in this play is time, and especially the way time works in the context of story telling, because of course it’s a memory play and Philip and Lillian are telling us about this thing that happened in the past and we go back and forth. When you sat down to write this play did you know it was going to be a memory play? Did the story dictate how time operates, or did time dictate the story?
AZ: The first six to ten pages of the play are pretty much what they were from day one. So I guess I did know, and I think that goes back to Six Degrees of Separation and being inspired by the tone and style of that play, by the idea of having a married couple telling a story. So I think that did suggest the way time would function in this play more than the other way around.
CH: I don’t think any of your other plays are really memory plays in this way. What do we gain, and what are the challenges that come along with it?
AZ: I think one thing we gain is that the characters are able to reflect on the events of the play in ways they couldn’t if this were just in the present. And I think that allows them and me to wax a little poetical about events in their lives in a way that’s a little harder when you don’t have access to direct address and narration. I think the difficulty is that the stakes can feel lower because the audience knows the story is in the past, so there’s that much more focus on the director and the actors to activate it. To make sure we are watching this story not to see whether things turned out okay, but because we’re interested in how things came to pass.
CH: Lillian is a photographer, and theater is such a visual medium. You’ve written a lot of plays, including this one, that lend themselves to striking visual components, but you really come from words — you come from poetry, you didn’t come from a theatre production background.
AZ: I’m the rare playwright who was never an actor…
CH: So how does the visual theatrical world work for you? When you sit down to write a play, do you throw some words at your collaborators and see what they come up with? Or when you’re writing do you have a picture in your head of what it will look like on stage?
AZ: Rarely. I think I fall more frequently into the former camp. But I also know when collaborators suggest something that feels wrong. So I have some sense of what things should look like, of what the world looks like. But no, I always struggle to describe the visual world. I think I hear the play much more than I see it.
CH: This is a play about a family in a moment of crisis, and yet, it’s really funny. I know we laugh all the time in rehearsal, and hopefully the audience will too! Are you aware that it’s funny when you’re writing? Do you set out to include that humor, or is it just funny because it’s true?
AZ: I don’t know that I ever sit down with the intent to write something that will make people laugh. It’s surprised me that I’ve been able to write funny plays. I always like to make people laugh, in life, but I don’t think of myself as a very funny person. And I remember, when I first started writing plays and having them performed, my parents would say, gosh, we didn’t realize you were funny. So I think maybe it’s a way to stretch a muscle I didn’t know I had.
CH: And what do you think humor contributes to this play?
AZ: I think it helps me relate to the characters. It humanizes them. After all, there are some situations that are so sad we can only respond by laughing. I’m thinking specifically about the early scene when Philip and Lillian first see Joey at camp and he’s so incredibly rude to them. And it’s funny because it’s not at all funny, because it’s so extreme. But it makes me feel for Philip and Lillian, and for Joey. And I hope the audience has the same response.
CH: Before we go, would you like to introduce the Nadelmans?
AZ: I think of the Nadelmans as a very normal family facing some very serious issues: Joey’s sadness, for one, but even more one of those seismic shifts that periodically interrupt and forever change a family landscape. In the Nadelmans' case, this shift emerges from Nora and Joey getting to the age where they’re about to leave home and from Philip and Lillian having to confront who they are separate from their children — who won’t be children too much longer. They are, each of them, growing up, changing, adjusting—just as we all do — and we are finding them here in that moment of adjustment.
Anna Ziegler (Playwright) makes her Magic Theatre debut with Another Way Home. Her play Photograph 51 is forthcoming in February-March 2013 at Seattle Rep, and her play The Minotaur at Rorschach Theatre (Washington DC) in January-February 2013. These and other plays (Dov and Ali, BFF, Novel, Evening All Afternoon, and Life Science) have been produced at theatres including: Ensemble Studio Theatre, New Georges, Theater J, DR2 (W.E.T.), The Cherry Lane (Playwrights Realm), Brown/Trinity Playwrights Rep, SPF, The Fountain Theater, English Theatre of Berlin, Theatre503 (UK), Synchronicity Theatre, Vermont Stage, Chester Theatre and Nora Theatre Company. Commissions: Manhattan Theatre Club, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Virginia Stage, and New Georges. Awards: Tribeca Film Institute/Sloan Foundation grant; STAGE award; Weissberger Award (finalist); Edgerton New Play Prize (Magic Theatre); Douglas T. Ward Playwriting Prize (for an alumnus/a of Tisch); NYIT Award Nomination for Best Short Play (2011, 2012). Residencies/Workshops/ Readings: Sundance Theatre Lab, O’Neill Playwrights Conference, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Cape Cod Theater Project, Arena Stage Downstairs New Works Series, PlayLabs (Playwrights Center), Chautauqua Theatre Company, Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab, TheatreWorks New Works Festival, Lark Playwrights Workshop, McCarter Theatre Playwrights Retreat, Rattlestick Theatre, Araca Group, Old Vic New Voices, terraNOVA Groundbreakers Playwrights Group, Orchard Project, Ars Nova, Berkshire Playwrights Lab, Primary Stages, Geva Theatre, Icicle Creek Theatre Festival, and The New Group. Publications include: New Playwrights: The Best Plays of 2007 and DPS editions of BFF, Life Science, and Photograph 51. Film: Screenplay adaptation of Photograph 51, with Rachel Weisz attached to star. Education: Yale (BA) and NYU/Tisch (MFA).
Meredith McDonough+ (Director) is thrilled to be back at Magic, having directed the first act of The Lily’s Revenge starring Taylor Mac. She is currently the Associate Artistic Director at Actors Theatre of Louisville where she will be directing The Whipping Man this winter. She was previously the Director of New Works at TheatreWorks in Silicon Valley, where she directed two world premieres by Laura Schellhardt, Auctioning the Ainsleys and Upright Grand, as well as [title of show] and Opus (BATCC Award, Best Director). Other Bay Area credits include A Steady Rain (Marin Theatre Company), and numerous readings and workshops with Playwrights Foundation and Playground. She has also developed and directed work at Roundabout Theatre, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Steppenwolf Theatre, Atlantic Theatre Company, Keen Company, Women’s Project, Delaware Theatre Company and Geva Theatre. She was a Drama League Directing Fellow, an Affiliated Artist with New Georges, and the Associate Artistic Director of the Orchard Project. She has her MFA from UCSD and her BS in performance studies from Northwestern University.
+ Member of Stage Directors and Choreographers (SDC)
Jeremy Kahn* (Mike T.) is thrilled to return to San Francisco and make his debut at Magic Theatre. His credits include: Would (NYC Fringe/New Ohio Theatre), Tortilla Curtain (San Diego Repertory Theatre), The Storytelling Ability of a Boy (Center Repertory Company), Kimberly Akimbo, The Fantasticks, and Tigers Be Still (San Francisco Playhouse), Moonshiner (Jackalope Theatre Company), SHAKESPOD (Edinburgh Fringe), Alice In Wonderland (Chicago Playworks), and Chicagoland (The Inconvenience). Jeremy was an artistic ensemble member at Theatre Mir, where he appeared in Beautiful City, Caucasian Chalk Circle, and the web series Bang Bang Shoot. Theatre Mir closed in the spring of 2012. Jeremy has participated in the development of new plays at Magic Theatre, Jackalope Theatre Company, and Berkeley Repertory Theatre. He received a B.F.A in acting from the Theatre School at DePaul University in 2009. www.actorjeremykahn.com
Riley Krull (Nora) is proud to be making her Magic Theatre debut! She graduated from the Boston Conservatory of Music in 2011, where she received a B.F.A. in Musical Theatre. Riley’s other onstage credits include: Wendla in Spring Awakening (Altarena Playhouse), Margot in Legally Blonde, The Musical (Diablo Theatre Company), Louise in Steve Martin's The Underpants (Custom Made Theatre Co.), and as Mary in Three Sisters and the title character in Sugar (both with 42nd Street Moon). Other favorite credits: Peggy in 42nd Street, and Babe in The Pajama Game. She was also a part of this year’s New Works Festival at TheatreWorks, and will be a part of the World Premiere of Being Earnest, a 1960‘s musical adaptation of the Oscar Wilde play, at TheatreWorks this spring. www.rileykrull.com
Kim Martin-Cotten* (Lillian) Recent work includes Broadway: Merchant of Venice with Al Pacino; National Tour: August Osage County; The Pearl Theatre: Moon for the Misbegotten (which earned her a Drama Desk Nomination); The Goodman Theatre: King Lear with Stacy Keach, and the premiere of Ghostwritten by Naomi Izuka. She has done many productions of Shakespeare's plays and been involved in much development of new works. She is also a director and recently directed productions of Death of a Salesman, Cabaret, Proof, and Taming of the Shrew, as well as assisting Anna Deveare Smith in her initial production of House Arrest: First Edition at Arena Stage.
Daniel Petzold (Joey) is excited to be returning to the Magic after appearing in Linda McLean's Any Given Day directed by Jon Tracy. He's also performed in The Salt Plays with Shotgun Players, Forever Never Comes with Crowded Fire, Much Ado About Nothing, Julius Caesar, and Romeo and Juliet with Pacific Rep, Little Brother with Custom Made, and performances with the San Francisco, Livermore, and Marin Shakespeare Festivals. He has a BA in Theater and Performance Studies from UC Berkeley. Love to Mom.
Mark Pinter* (Philip) Off-Broadway: My Sweetheart's the Man in the Moon, Hypothetical Theatre Company; Three on the Couch, Soho Rep. Regional includes: The Price, Northern Stage; Follies, Little Theatre on the Square; Book of Days, Arena Stage; The Sound of Music, Syracuse Stage; Hamlet, Old Globe; Charley’s Aunt, Carter Center Stage; The Lover, The Lion in Winter and Becky’s New Car, North Coast Rep; Equus, Black Comedy, and Shadow Box, Arizona Theatre Company; Victor/Victoria, North Shore Music Theatre; Hello, Dolly!, Bucks County Playhouse. He starred opposite Lillias White in Courting the Muse for the White Barn Theatre. Television includes: NCIS: Los Angeles, Law and Order, SVU and CI, and long running roles on All My Children and Another World. Films include: Other People’s Money, Eden Myth, Season of Youth, Vanilla Sky and the award-winning short, Play. MFA-Hilberry Repertory Theatre/Wayne State University. Proud member of AEA. For Carla and Esme – you bless my life.
* Member of Actors' Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers.
Angela Nostrand* (Stage Manager) is thrilled to return to Magic Theatre. Recent credits include: Why We Have a Body, Evie’s Waltz, K of D: an urban legend, Tir na nog, The Crowd You’re In With, Expedition 6, The Long Christmas Ride Home, and The God of Hell (Magic Theatre); Octopus (Encore/Magic); Skin (Encore/Climate); T.I.C. Trenchcoat in Common (Encore); The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity, The Soldier’s Tale, The Eccentricities of a Nightingale, Speech & Debate, Fat Pig, Bosoms and Neglect, Private Jokes, Public Places, and The Price (Aurora Theatre Company); Restoration Comedy (Stanford Summer Theatre); Three on a Party (Word for Word); Charlie Cox Runs with Scissors, 9 Circles, and The Pavilion (Marin Theatre Company); The Rambler National Tour (Joe Goode Performance Group).
Annie Smart** (Set & Costume Designer) returns to Magic Theater where she designed Tír na nÓg and The Right Kind of People. In New York, she designed several shows for The Public Theater and the Broadway production of In the Next Room. Recent local shows include Man and Superman, Private Lives, Pastures of Heaven, and Candida for California Shakespeare Theater; Auctioning the Ainsleys for TheatreWorks; for Berkeley Repertory Theatre: Big Love, Suddenly Last Summer, Passing Strange, To The Lighthouse, Heartbreak House, Yellowjackets, In the Next Room, Tiny Kushner, Taking Over, and Three Sisters; and for San Jose Rep: The Understudy, A Long Day’s Journey into Night, The Weir, Freud’s Last Session, and costumes for Double Indemnity. Originally from London, Ms. Smart designed sets and costumes for the premieres of Caryl Churchill’s Fen, Ice Cream and Hot Fudge, A Mouthful of Birds, and The Skriker amongst numerous other shows for the Royal Court, Joint Stock Group, and the National Theatre. Ms. Smart teaches costume and set design at the University of California, Berkeley.
Paul Toben** (Lighting Designer) Broadway: The Story of My Life; Off-Broadway: The Judy Show (DR2), Saturn Nights (Incubator), Electra in a One-Piece and The Realm (Wild Project), Romeo and Juliet (Columbia Stages), When in Disgrace (Examined Man), and others; London: Daddy Long Legs (St. James); SF Bay Area: Fly By Night, [title of show], Auctioning the Ainsleys, Upright Grand (TheatreWorks); Regional: designs for Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Northlight Theatre, Arizona Theatre Company, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Flat Rock Playhouse, Theatre by the Sea, Rubicon Theatre Company, and other theatres nationally. Paul is a member of United Scenic Artists Local 829. www.paultoben.com
Sara Huddleston (Sound Designer & Director of Production) joined Magic staff in March ’07. For Magic, she designed Any Given Day, Jesus in India, What We’re Up Against, Or,, The Brothers Size, An Accident, Mrs. Whitney, Goldfish, Mauritius, Evie’s Waltz, The K of D, and Octopus (Magic/Encore Theatre Company). Further Bay Area sound design credits include In On ItT.I.C. (Encore Theatre Company); The Shaker Chair (Encore Theatre Company/Shotgun Players); Macbeth (Shotgun Players); Volleygirl and Riot (A.C.T Youth Conservatory); Three on a Party (Word for Word); A Round Heeled Woman (Z Space); and Invasion! (Crowded Fire). Ms. Huddleston received a BFA from the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama.
Carrie Hughes (Dramaturg) dramaturged the workshop of Another Way Home at the O’Neill Theater Center, and has worked on many of Anna Ziegler’s plays, including The Minotaur and A Delicate Ship. Carrie is the literary director at McCarter Theatre, where her recent production dramaturgy includes ,em>The Convert by Danai Gurira and The How and the Why by Sarah Treem. Other dramaturgical credits include: The Kite Runner and When Something Wonderful Ends (Actors Theatre of Louisville); Victoria Martin, Math Team Queen (Women’s Project); Serious Money and The Black Monk (Yale Repertory Theater). She has dramaturged workshops at the Lark, New Harmony, New Georges, and the Kennedy Center’s Page to Stage festival. She is a graduate of Amherst College and the Yale School of Drama.
* Member of Actors' Equity Association** Member of United Scenic Artists local 829.
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