Three Features, Two Previews, and Pix from ANDY AND THE SHADOWS

We’ve got our first wave of press interviews and audience responses coming in from the first two nights of previews. Let’s read the comments and peruse the features and enjoy the production pics courtesy of Stan Barouh.

First, the press:

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From TheatreWashington on “The Search for Duende

 

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From Washingtonian Magazine, “On Making Art in The Shadow of History

 

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and from The Forward, on “A Playwright Confronting His Shadows”

As for the previews, 290 folks over 2 nights have taken in good shows, on their way to becoming better and better as we continue to rehearse, introducing new cuts and bits of new text today. Let’s check out the comments for follow up from students who saw the Design Run two weeks ago. And from others too!

And finally, photos! Thank you to photographer Stan Barouh. Check out some pics below and find more, including production designs and costume sketches, on the Theater J Flickr website HERE.

Andy and the Shadows

L-R: Kimberly Gilbert, Stephen Patrick Martin, Jennifer Mendenhall, Davis Hasty
Photo by Stan Barouh

Andy and the Shadows

L-R: Colleen Delany and Alexander Strain
Photo by Stan Barouh

L-R: Alexander Strain, Jennifer Mendenhall, Colleen Delany, Stephen Patrick Martin, Kimberly GilbertPhoto by Stan Barouh

L-R: Alexander Strain, Jennifer Mendenhall, Colleen Delany, Stephen Patrick Martin, Kimberly Gilbert
Photo by Stan Barouh

44 thoughts on “Three Features, Two Previews, and Pix from ANDY AND THE SHADOWS

  1. Something that was brought up briefly in the post-show discussion and something I have been thinking about a lot concerning “Andy and the Shadows” is the subjectivity of a majority of the play. Fifty-year old Andy acknowledges from the very beginning that we are entering into a dream, and since that version of the character does not reappear until the very end, it is arguable that what we are seeing is not an objective depiction of Andy’s life. This would account for a lot of the unusual temporal shifts, such as how a ten-year old Andy can enter the bathtub and a twenty five-year old can emerge, heavy symbolic imagery, such as the tarnished angel wings, and discrepancies in character interactions.

    The most prominent example of the latter is young Raya. At first, only Andy can see or hear her when she visits him in the bathroom and later in the basement scene at the end of Act I. She presses on him everything that he admires about his mother- her dedication to social justice over commonplace trivialities like groceries, having legitimate stories of war, being an almost mythical figure by knowing that the boat was going to explode- all of which serve to make Andy feel worse about himself and what he has failed to experience. He dreams of her as a form of self-punishment, just as he repeatedly hits himself on his head with his fist. However, come the second act, everyone else is suddenly able to see her as well. There is no apparent change in twenty five-year old Andy’s treatment of her, but now she is invading the set and her presence is questioned by the rest of the characters (unless all of the cast members were hallucinations too, which could make sense as Chad shifts into Nate, no one else was arrested at the parking lot, and we never see the outcome of the movie).

    Other examples of discrepancies in character interactions include Sarah speaking to Andy through the television about her letter and how Andy can see his mother while in the jail cell. The second instance especially takes on dream-like qualities since his suspicion and mistrust of Raya’s account push forward all of the action in the scene. She gives him no obvious hints, or even any new information at all, about how she cast off her stepfather, yet he knows her exact words. It is more of a confirmation of suspicions and realization of his “scream” than communication between the two characters.

    Of course, if the events of the play are a dream, then there are many other options on what sort of other lenses we can choose to interpret it in. Going in a different direction, Sarah felt a bit like the Freudian superego to me, guiding and reprimanding him for most of her appearances, although since we only saw a couple days of them together perhaps this was just the climax of her frustration. If anyone else has other interpretations of how the filter of a dream affects our understanding of the play, please feel free to share.

    Also, as a clarification for myself: I asked the question about balancing how much of your memories you interject into a story with themes you want to promote for my own sake. There are stories about my life that I want to tell through fictional characters, both just to get them out to the world and to work through my related issues, and I’m hitting walls where my story and the characters aren’t matching up, where I’m trying to figure out what are the most important parts of my stories that need to be included, and I was hoping to gain some illumination on that, whether Ari experienced that at all in his process and if so, how he dealt with it.

    And my second question was on a difference I think a lot of us noticed: the ending of the first act. Why didn’t Andy smear the jam over young Raya’s face? The only idea I have, that may not be related to production reasons, was one I got from the post-show discussion. Since Nate is so tied to the earth, perhaps by not smearing the jam it solidified Nate’s character and his realm as separate from Raya’s.

    • You ask really thoughtful questions Mary, and I’m sorry I can’t really shed any light on them. In regards to the jam-smearing, I can only theorize that it was difficult to perform such an act on stage. I could be mistaken, but I thought Andy was supposed to smear the jam on his own face, in which case I would have thought it symbolized the pain and confusion he was experiencing in his attempt to understand his father, his mother, and their relationship.

      I think the idea the Sarah is almost a Freudian superego is a great interpretation; my impression,was very much the same, but I had not completely developed that thought yet. I very much agree that she is a guiding force in his life. When he is lost, she does her best to set him straight, at the expense of their own relationship. I think it is significant that she plays Mickey’s wife in Andy’s midnight movie, because it gives her an added dimension. Throughout the play she is a strong character, but we don’t really see her identity until we are able to associate her with the wife that has been left behind, and then abandoned again after seven years of waiting. The parallels between the two characters gives us more information about Sarah, which in turn makes her more three dimensional.

      • You’re right about who the jam was supposed to be smeared on- I checked the script again and it says it was on Andy’s arms, so thanks for pointing that out. And in that case, your interpretation of Andy’s struggle to connect with both of his parents and their stories is really apt.

      • Karinne, I think your comment was really thoughtful and I had the same reaction that there a couple aspects of the production that I completely misunderstood during the rehearsal process, yet at the same time it was interesting to see how much the characters have come to life since the rehearsal process. I also initially misunderstood the scene where Andy shot himself metaphorically in the foot, since Andy frequently uses irony or sarcasm throughout the play, and I hesitated as to whether this was a literal shooting. However this confusion may also be because the metaphor was so credible given Andy’s attitude towards his parents and towards the other characters in the play, that it is easy to see how Andy’s impatience, persistence and frustration leads to him shooting himself in the foot over and over again, until he finally sees his parents through a more objective lens.

    • Mary, I really understand your questions that you’re asking throughout, both about the framework of the play, the subjectivity of the point of view, the confusions of theatrical ground rules as we move into the making of the film — and then, at the end of your post, your questions about how much of your own life you can put into your work and still keep it artful and authentic. As with last night’s talk-back, I’m more interested in hearing other audience members reactions, insights, and confusions about the play rather than offer and impose my own rigid interpretation of what’s the right way to read the play. That’s kind of what I was getting at when I said–perhaps it was after your question–that the query “how much of the play is autobiographical?” is not a very interesting question to respond to. But I really didn’t mean or intend to make you feel badly about the question — and I’m sorry I said it in the way that I did! Your observations above are spot-on and the play is a tricky proposition. I’m seeing that some people are really getting it, but others may not be—you all probably saw that as well—that some audiences were confused and not loving their time, while others were totally into it. Sending you all the very best from rehearsals — where we’re still continuing to tinker, cut and add some crucial new lines in Act II. More again soon.

    • Mary – As usual, I enjoy your candid, honest remarks and observations. The way that you inject yourself into the lens of the observer (an objective observer, intent on nailing down the core of a play, or any other given work of art) remind me of what journalism is at its core — and I think you’ve mentioned that’s a goal. Every point you bring up is one that was on my mind but I either a) didn’t say in person, b) didn’t wrote in my own pots (below), and c) added a layer to the concepts, symbols, and ideas that I wouldn’t have thought of myself. I appreciate the symbolism, and I thank you for bringing up the smears to my attention — I’m going off to pen a symphony, “Andy’s Smears.”

    • Mary:
      I read your post, and suddenly things make a lot more sense to me. You seemed to put into words everything that I was feeling and observing, but could not figure out how to say. You picked up on a lot of temporal shifts and character changes that I did not even notice myself. I was confused most of the time and it took me a while to catch on. I did not even notice when Andy was changing ages…as the actor stayed the same age throughout the show. I really like your analysis as to why Andy did not smear the jam over young Raya’s face. I originally thought Andy was supposed to smear the jam on his face, but neither happened so I chose not to worry about it. I also agree with you that I found instances where the story and characters didn’t align, and I appreciate Ari’s response to your questions. I can’t wait to discuss this as a group to break down our questions and understandings of the play. Thanks for your insight.

  2. Having seen the designer run for ‘Andy and the Shadows’, going to the actual production was an interesting experience. The differences between the more relaxed, candid, unpolished designer run and the fast-paced, disciplined performance we saw last night were very striking. It was immediately obvious to me where lines and/or emphasis had been altered; sometimes I appreciated the change and sometimes I wasn’t so sure. The addition of costumes and further props led to a new dimension of the performance, notably with regard to the angel wings. The addition of sound effects and lighting also created a vast difference between the run through and the final performance. The mystical realism was greatly enhanced when lighting made flashbacks and dream states more pronounced. It was interesting to see how the director and stage manager had adapted the play to the stage, even making changes from the designer run through.

    I was surprised at how much I had missed watching the play the first time. Some of the symbolism had completely escaped me because I was so involved in untwisting the complex plotlines. For example, I realized the second play that the angel wings symbolized Andy’s mother’s innocence and clarity of purpose. When Amy returned from Israel with sullied, almost bloody-looking wings, this demonstrated how she had lost the innocent conviction that had led her to undertake such a drastic, altruistic endeavor in the first place. The first time I saw the play I also completely missed the metaphor of Andy shooting himself in the foot. I thought that he literally had, despite the multiple times Andy declares it is a metaphor. I understand now that the amateur film made him realize at last that he was putting his parents on pedestals and searching for heroism where there were only two flawed yet accomplished human beings. His whole life his misconception had been defeating his own search for understanding; he had been metaphorically shooting himself in the foot. Only until then could he understand the truth about his mother’s past and his father’s motivations.

    • Karinne, I completely subscribe to missing the metaphor of shooting himself in the foot! In retrospect, it was made very clear that the entire thing was simply another metaphor, but for some reason I really thought that he was walking around with a hole in his foot. He really wouldn’t have been able to walk around as much as he did if he was bleeding all over the place… I also appreciated your observations regarding the changes made between the designer run and the preview. I also noted quite a few differences and like you’ve said, the lighting, music, and props really did make even the same scenes appear quite different!

  3. Watching the designer run before the preview really highlighted the differences that had been made in the span of two. I wanted to make a quick comment on the pace of the play. The preview performance was more structured and delivered in a significantly faster fashion than the designer run. On some level, I preferred the preview more than the designer run because it kept the play flowing smoothly. On the other hand though, I felt that there were a few moments where I appreciated the dramatic pauses of the designer run, because it allowed for more audience response. A specific moment that stuck out to me was the joke Andy makes at the very beginning about being mature, immature, or an idiot. I heard a few chuckles that faded almost immediately because Andy continued talking and it felt like it was no longer appropriate to laugh. This was an example of where I felt the more relaxed atmosphere at the designer run allowed for the audience (us and the designers) to laugh, before the play progressed. Was this due to cutting back the script to fit the time limit?
    As Mary and Karinne have pointed out, watching the play for the second time also helped me see a lot of symbolism that I missed during the designer run. Mary brings up the best example with Raya “invading the set”. I think that entire scene, and not just the ability of the other cast members to see Raya, but also the eventual introduction to Raya’s mother, is incredibly symbolic. Andy’s hallucinations of Raya start to color his interactions with other people and the addition of yet another character that Andy shouldn’t be able to imagine represents not just the growing obsession that Andy has with his parents, but is symbolic of how much the situation is spiraling out of control. This results in the eventual crashing and burning of these ideas when he’s arrested and put in jail.
    A question that I’d wanted to ask during the discussion is the jam jar at the end of the first act, but I wasn’t quite sure how to phrase it. Considering it is the cutoff between the first and second acts, it seems like it’s definitely an important event, and there are quite a few interpretations (ex. One interpretation is that it foreshadows Andy’s realization of the truth as the “memories” spilled out of the jar). Mainly though, I wanted to know if you feel like the change in how the jam spilling ended up being performed has affected the impact of the event? I know at least a few of us were surprised by how passive the event ended up being, considering the discussion we’d had about Andy smearing the jam on his face and about the jar shattering onstage. At least for me, I imagined something slightly more dramatic, though I can understand how it would have been dangerous to have glass shards all over the stage and the risk of jam getting on Andy’s clothes.

    • Really interesting observations and questions here; particularly about the end of Act I. The drama, we concluded, was in the build up to Nate dropping the jar; not in the actual shattering which, in the end, we were unable to execute. “Sugar glass” — a fake glass that can safe crash on stage — isn’t able to contain liquids. So we concentrated on the aesthetic presentation of the jam and went for less of a special effect. When we’re on Broadway (insert smiley face joke lol here), we’ll have a bigger budget and go for a bigger impact!

  4. The preview of “Andy and the Shadows” was much different than the play itself. I was much less confused this time around because I had a much stronger visual image. During the design run, it was difficult to differentiate when Colleen Delany was playing Andy’s sister (Amy) or Andy’s mother when she was a child (Raya). The costuming and more distinct set helped me in figuring this out. Overall, I found the acting in “Andy and the Shadows” to be very well done. I still think that Alexander Strain, from Roma in “Glengarry Glen Ross” to Andy in “Andy and the Shadows,” is a phenomenal and very talented actor.

    Overall, I enjoyed this production. I will admit that I did not agree with the character of Andy in every aspect, or even quite understand everything coming out of his mouth. For these reasons, I found Andy to be the most interesting character in the play. He so strongly yearns to discover the truth behind his mother and father’s histories and childhoods. He alters between praising his mother and putting her down. This is exemplified while an extremely conflicted Andy was in jail and states that he puts his mother on a pedestal but he “doesn’t know why.” At one point, Nate, Andy’s father, said, “That woman (Raya) isn’t as tough as you’d think.” This was very interesting comment I thought considering Andy’s wavering views. Another interesting aspect of Andy’s character is his obsession with suffering. He constantly speaks of his family’s struggles throughout history due to their Jewish culture and religion. He sees ghosts of his mother’s past, fantasizes about what may have happened, and overall seems like an unstable character who constantly is reminded of grief, pain, and suffering just from being in his own home. At one point in the play, Andy’s obsession with oppression and suffering is countered by his role as a healer. While Andy complains about the sadness of his family, making him seem weak and upset, his mother tells him that “it is a wounded family and you [Andy] are its healer,” portraying Andy as a strong leader and healer within his family.

  5. Andy and the Shadows – My Life and the Echoes

    Whether you liked it or not, whether you appreciated or not, and whatever you may or may not feel about the most recent play (and last) we viewed, “Andy and the Shadows,” one thing it does do is it does reinforce the themes I’ve written about on this blog, the themes I wrote about and spoke about at the midterm reflection period, and the themes I’m currently analyzing, writing about, and will be speaking about for Thursday’s final presentation. I’ve written and spoken ad nauseam about the sense of ‘self’ that interjects into a given perception and reception of a given work of art – a play being a prime example. A play about self-reflection, self-identity (and even branding), and finding oneself at different stages, the subjectivity /objectivity complex referenced in several of the posts above is really a complex of and relating to the sense of self I have written about. I don’t know who I am; it’s a dire problem I aimed to solve coming to Washington. I’m a grown man crying as I write a blog post for a theater class I didn’t even want to take, and I have no regrets abbot the admission of emotions the plays have evoked, the ways they’ve inspired me to think about my own life, or the ways I’ve challenged and reviewed the ways other factors and facets in life have changed the lens through which we view the world.

    To that end, the innocence and ‘clarity of purpose’ referenced above also escaped me in the designer run, as did much of the symbolism throughout the play. (Though I will say that as an out-of-the-box person who prefers candid, casual conversation; I much preferred the designer run to the final, finished product).

    All in all, it is worth noting that my own identity is shaped largely by the disconnect from a normal (neutral) relationship with my parents, too complex to fit into this small space. That relationship – between Andy and his mother, between me and my parents, between siblings – is the familial core of identity which comprises the sense of ‘self’ critical to a comprehensive understanding of who we are, and often more importantly, who we are not.

    Very grateful to see this – even more grateful to see it from designer runt through to the finish.

    • Thank you for your candid response to the play. I am glad that “Andy and the Shadows” got you thinking about your own life and your identity, because it proves that you are willing to take the initiative to reflect on yourself and the world not just around you but also expand your horizon, and really open your eyes to look at the world with different perspectives. It also means that you are striving to improve yourself, but at the same time keeping true to yourself. I am not sure if you would agree, but hopefully, you will continue to reflect and respond to your life changes in the future.

    • Brandon, it’s interesting that you point out how much this play is about self-reflection. I think the audience can easily miss this theme, seeing that so much of the play focuses on Andy’s views of his parents. But at the end of the day, the way he sees his parents is also the lens through which he sees himself. I think maybe because Andy is incapable of understanding his parents, that he has serious troubles understanding himself – maybe this is why he’s so hesitant to get married, or to find a movie that he’s so passionate to make. I think this really goes back to the point that in order to understand ourselves, and in order to discover who we are, we need to first come to terms with the world around us.

      • Sam…this is a really good point. Something that I think was especially interesting is that, despite the fact that we were some of the youngest members of the audience, I think the play contains an extremely youthful message that is very timely in our lives. It considers the struggle of understanding oneself with the looming backdrop of one’s family casting a giant shadow. This is something that I think happens for everyone in their late-teens/early-twenties when they (often) leave home and grapple with the past, present, and future. I wonder if the cognitive dissonance and conflict of this struggle resonated with older members of the audience. I wonder if they understood this dissonance in relation to their own children, or grandchildren. I hope they remember the friction of growing up in a world pieced together by history, ambition, and love.

  6. Walking away from Andy and the Shadows made me reflect on my own interpretations of my parents’ stories. I say “interpretations” because the play clearly points out that what we hold to be true is often influenced by miscommunication from the storyteller and our own desire for the “perfect” story. Growing up we can’t help but put our parents on pedestals — just like Andy did. As small children they are the heroes we aspire to be.

    I remember begging for stories from my parents just like Andy did in the bath scene. My dad left New Zealand as a 17 year old. What was meant to be a quick stint as a crewmember on a boat ride to Australia ended up being a yearlong journey to America. My mom grew up in Mexico City, attending the American School and taking weekend trips to their family’s home in Acapulco. My parents met through their mutual love of sailing at a regatta in Mexico— a love story that I was so proud of for its uniqueness. In my head I overly romanticized their pasts because I thought it would make my present more special. I remember being jealous of their adventures and being disgusted by the mundane nature of my own suburban childhood. Andy’s own experience with his parents’ stories was similar. The guilt he felt as a second generation Holocaust survivor could almost be described as jealousy. He wanted a story that would make him the hero he saw his parents to be.

    But as I got older, the pedestals I put my parents on began to crumble. When they got divorced my freshman year of high school, my parents suddenly became human. I saw them as flawed — my dad horrible for leaving and my mom weak for letting him. It no longer mattered where they came from or how colorful their pasts were because nothing could romanticize what they looked like to me in the present.

    Andy’s journey offered a glimpse into a future of acceptance that I haven’t yet fully reached with my parents. My dad was just remarried this week — an event that has unearthed several old wounds for me. I couldn’t help but tear up during the hospital scene. It caused me to think about how I would feel if my dad passed away before I got the chance to tell him that despite everything we’ve been through I love him and want the best for him. I hope to eventually reach a place of acceptance and unconditional love for my parents just as Andy did.

    • wow, what a spectacular digesting of the play you’ve done, Kate, reflecting back on your own rich and complex upbringing. I’m moved by all these posts I’m reading — every single one is a strong, personal, and highly insightful assessment of the production with some useful observations that we’ll being into our next rehearsal and help in our continuing refinements of the production. But the fact that so many of you are responding to the play and thinking of your own lives and family interactions is exceptionally meaningful.

    • Kate, I really appreciate your post because I hadn’t really related my own personal family history with this play and have been struggling to identify with Andy. I can read about, appreciate and even empathize with Andy’s emotions, but not directly relate to them. The way you aptly injected your own story into your post made me realize, however, that whatever the specifics of Andy’s family situation are, the play is still very much a story about what it means to be a family. This is why I liked the relationship between the siblings around the dinner table, and why I laughed when Andy said he would recognize the sound of his mother’s knuckles anywhere. The play captures a sense of family that goes above and beyond the plotline.

      I like how you talk about learning to see your parents as human beings with flaws. It is also something I’ve had to do in a similar situation, and something everyone must come to terms with as we grow up.

      By far my favorite scene in the play is when Andy is talking to Raya from his jail cell as she is sitting up to her desk. The scene is so charged with honesty it still made me tear up a bit. To find out your parent is not quite the hero you thought they were is humbling. So much of how we define ourselves is through our parents. If they were strong, we can be too. When we discover their weaknesses it can be scary, but it is also a bit comforting to realize how human we all are (we can still falter and end up ok).

    • Kate–first of all, thanks so much for sharing such a personal interpretation of “Andy in the Shadows.” I really enjoyed the play because I think family dynamics are fascinating. It is good to know that audience members can draw parallels to their own lives. In my post I mentioned that I couldn’t relate to Andy, especially his intensity, because I am not a dramatic/artistic person myself. However, after reading your post, I began to think of stories my parents have told me, and I realize that I do embellish them. I even embellish some of my own stories, so maybe I am more similar to Andy than I had thought. Sometimes it takes a little more than the 48 hours to digest the plays we see.

  7. In the dramaturgy section of the program Peter Birkenhead describes “Andy and the Shadows” as a story of “a young man raised in the shadows” of his parents’ stories. Seeing the production again made me realize the critical importance of Andy’s relationship with his parents. Andy, as a character is challenging. He is relentlessly persistent, seemingly self-absorbed, and (more than a bit) out-of-touch with reality. This is more than just a comic-relief element, however, and speaks to what may possibly be the central theme of the play. After the show, Rabbi Bruce Lustig mentioned “second generation survivor guilt,” an intergenerational trauma condition I had not heard of before this discussion.

    While doing a little research I stumbled upon a 2007 article from the San Francisco Chronicle on the topic (http://www.sfgate.com/opinion/article/Echoes-of-Holocaust-terror-guilt-Survivors-2618377.php). The article argues that when parents who survived the Holocaust are silent about this sort of history, it leaves children with an inescapable sense of incompleteness. Even if parents are not silent, perhaps just elusive, the child still has to come to terms with the weight of their survival. Andy only exists because his parents suffered and triumphed. The guilt he feels about this shapes who he is and makes him feel like he has to succeed. All of his very human failings make him feel like they suffered in vain.

    One interviewee in the article mentions dreaming about her grandparents rising out of the Auschwitz smoke asking why she had not had children and carried on the lineage they had died for. This seems to be exactly what Andy is struggling with in the play. He puts his parents on a pedestal for surviving and continuously punishes himself for not living up to their legacy. He struggles with idea of marrying and starting a family because he is worried he will end up being another suburban drone with a suparo and an ice chest. What will his grandparents have died for then? Why should his parents have undergone so many struggles to survive for THAT? The weight of their survival is heavy on his shoulders as he tries to live his live “in” their shadows.

    • You bring up a good point about the sense of hopelessness that the children of Holocaust survivors can have when their parents do not share their stories with them. I think it is always good to know the past that your ancestors have gone through; even though you may not have gone through it personally, knowing about it and hearing it firsthand or from the passing down of stories through generations may help to secure feelings of identity.

      I think this general sentiment definitely applies across the board to other survivors of tragedies—from the Japanese internment camps to slavery. This play made me think about my own history in terms of civil rights experiences. As the daughter and granddaughter of two women born in the segregated south of Birmingham Alabama, I often think about my own history and the things that they had to survive through that I will never experience firsthand. Hearing stories about those dark times definitely helps me to feel like I have a good sense of my identity because I know where I came from and how hard the struggle was in America to get to where we are today. I definitely appreciated the play for this general theme that many can relate to.

  8. Overall I enjoyed “Andy In The Shadows.” I love watching family dynamics–the bickering between husband and wife, brother and sister. Andy as a character can be a bit much. I don’t identify with his obsession to learn about his parent’s past. I’m not a creative or passionate person so his intensity was a little distracting and off-putting at times. I really enjoyed all of the actors though and found the cast to be extremely talented. I won’t give anything away about the ending considering the production is still in previews, but I really enjoyed the ending.

    Many things were discussed in the post show discussion, but two things that were discussed in greater detail were the dark angel wings that Andy’s sister wore when she returned from Israel during the airport scene and the movie “Cast A Giant Shadow.” I personally knew nothing about the movie and didn’t find that it subtracted from the scene in the slightest way. A woman had suggested that they print a little something about the movie in the playbook, but I don’t find that necessary at all. You don’t have to know the film to take the takeaways from the scene: linking the parallelism between Andy’s dad and the Mickey Marcus from the movie and the fact that Andy chose to reinterpret the film and rewrite history, which is what he had been doing to his parents history–glorifying it and placing their stories on a pedestal. The film was a flop, so it is expected that not many audience members will be familiar with the film. As for the dark angel wings, I personally did not like them. I thought the actress made it very clear that she was returning broken and clearly no longer optimistic about her endeavors in Israel, so the wings were weird and unnecessary to me. However, many people in the audience expressed great interpretations of the dark angel wings, so clearly some people enjoyed them.

    • Like you, I had no knowledge of “Cast a Giant Shadow” before seeing this play. I totally agree with you that it is unnecessary to give the audience more information about the movie — even younger generation viewers like us who are totally clueless can understand enough about the movie for the references to make sense. Because this play was my first introduction to the movie, it almost seems unnatural to type “Cast a Giant Shadow” without the “to” before. While cultural references help to make a play more personal, it is important to make sure that the plot and characters do not rely so heavily on those references. That way, the play can be more timeless. If audiences don’t have to do outside research to understand the meaning of such a reference, I think it has been used successfully. Because we didn’t need more information about “[to] Cast a Giant Shadow” to understand its significance, the play can reach a larger group of people.

  9. Thursday night’s preview showing of Andy and the Shadows was an interesting one. Because we had the privilege of seeing a run-through of the play a few weeks ago, I came into the theater with the knowledge of what took place in the play. This granted me the benefit of focusing on what had changed in those two weeks. The addition of the finished set, costumes, and props really helped to better tell the story than during the initial run-through. They also helped by adding the symbolism and providing better representation the differences between the dream sequences and reality that were absent during the first viewing. That being said, though, I still did find the intersection of Andy’s dreams and reality confusing, especially during the scene when Andy made his movie. I liked the story and could follow most of what was going on, but that part really confused me.

    Speaking of the plot, it really reminded me of Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel “Everything is Illuminated.” In that story, Jonathan, the main character travels to Europe to try to find and thank the woman who saved his grandfather from the Holocaust, but instead he helps another survivor atone for the bad things he did in order to survive. I viewed the struggles by Andy and his mother as similar to the ones of Jonathan and the old man he helped in the novel. Andy and Jonathan both try to live through their elders because that is all they could view as important in their lives. The mother and the old man, though, are trying to stop living in their pasts and need the other character to help them get through it. I don’t know if these comparisons helped or harmed my appreciation of Andy and the Shadows because it had to live up to my expectations of the other story, but I did find it very interesting that they are similar.

    Overall, I enjoyed the play very much. There were a few confusing parts but other than that it was very enjoyable, and a good way to end the viewing portion of this semester.

  10. It was great to see “Andy and the Shadows” in full effect. Having seen the designer run two weeks ago, I was delighted by the play once more but in a new way. Unlike the designer run, the preview had an amazing set and fantastic costumes that contributed to my experience. Last week, I commented on the designer run blog post that I would have really loved to have a set and costumes to better guide me through the play. While I was so wrapped up in the play because the visuals really aided me through the story, I am starting to think that I enjoyed the designer run more. Both shows were amazing, but the designer run and the lack of visual aids really complemented the detachment from realism that pervades the play with the ability to use more of my imagination. Without the visual aids, I was forced to rely on my mind, and, therefore, I was able to better connect the play’s message to my past experiences and my own memories. Regardless, I was still so pleased with both performances. The designer run was great for reflecting back on my past, yet the preview was really great to understand the story. In this show, something new that I noted was the concept of how my parents’ pasts affected me. This may be strange timing, but I recently saw “Place Beyond the Pines” in which the actions and histories of two young fathers impact the lives of their respective sons. I thought this was relevant because I noticed a familiar theme in “Andy and the Shadows”. Unlike the designer run, I was so intrigued by the thought of how my own parents’ histories affected me and how they motivated me in the past during the preview. Overall, it was an amazing production and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for some fun things to do.

  11. In my previous post about the rehearsal of Andy and the Shadows that we watched last week, I mentioned something that I’d like to write about more in-depth this week: our parents. This play is all about how we reconcile truth and fantasy when thinking of our parents. It’s one of the most important steps of growing up, and it’s a step I myself haven’t taken. Andy wants so desperately to revere his mother as a God among mortals. As he said early in the play, he was always slow in completing various rites of passage – losing his virginity, getting married, etc. – and understanding that his mother is not as perfect as he wants her to be is also a difficult realization for him to come to.

    It’s a difficult realization for all of us to come to. Even today, I still find myself thinking about my mom or dad, and I’m just in total awe of how great they are. I know not everyone has amazing parents, and some learn very early on of their flaws and troubles. I’m not entirely sure whether that’s good or bad. On the one hand, they are more grounded in reality. They understand that people are inherently flawed, and perhaps they have a better perspective on life. But isn’t it nice to have such great role models? Is it so bad to think positively about someone?

    For Andy, the perfect image he has of his mother is difficult for him to overcome, and it ends up hurting him. He really struggles with this reconciliation of truth and fiction, and it’s tough to watch his fantasy come crumbling down around him. But for me, the perfection of my parents is something for which I strive, and even though I know they’re not perfect and that they have flaws, I’m still searching for them – although not actively.

    • Sam, I totally agree with you in the idea that many people (myself includes) have this idea that our parents are perfect. It would really hard to find out something about my parents that completely changed my perception of them. In Andy’s case, he thought his mother was a hero and he found out some new details that altered his view of her. I can’t imagine how difficult that would be!

    • Sam, reading your blog post made me think about how I view my own parents and whether seeing them as “perfection” is a good or bad thing. I much like you were blessed with unbelievable parents who have always been there for me and I know they always will be. That said it’s important to realize that they are not perfect in every aspect of their life…no one is. For me I see my parents are “perfect” because not a moment in my life has gone by where I was not positive that they loved me. That’s more than anyone son can ask for. I hope that when I become a father I will be able to have the same level of love that my parents have given me. Having that kind of role model in your life is something that is invaluable and that I’m eternally grateful for.

  12. In “Andy and the Shadows,” Andy struggles to define himself in the context of the memories and identity that he inherits from his Mother. Through Andy’s exploration of his Mother’s memories we see the emotional trauma that his mother incurred so to speak, and it is interesting how Andy claims her memories as his own, and in so doing, almost claims her weaknesses as well.

    I think this observation brings to light the relationship between parents and their children, particularly how the experiences and decisions of parents influence their kids. Andy reacts strongly to his Mother’s past, but he also responds strongly to his Mother’s reaction to her past, and to the way in which she interprets and processes it. In fact, it his Mother’s dishonesty or habit of denial which prompts Andy to explore the facts of her past, in an attempt to break the routine of fearful denial that his Mother practices and which Andy also seems stuck in.

    I can definitely personally relate to this aspect of the play, as I think that the mysterious and traumatic incidents of our parents’ past deeply trouble us, and even more so, the way in which we believe they respond to these circumstances. For example, in the play Andy’s relationship with his Father is defined by his belief that his Dad is not a fighter, that his Dad runs from the battle to lead his Jewish family forward in the process of self-discovery and from assuming his role as a tragic hero of sorts. I can certainly see how my relationship with my parents or with other relatives that I am particularly close to is colored by the extent to which I perceive them to either fight, or to run and hide from life’s battles. And even this may be difficult to ascertain, because sometimes like Andy, we may misinterpret the way in which our parents or even others around us deal with their battles. Sometimes, what may appear to be cowardice may actually be courage. And while we may not be able to find images of Micky Marcus that we may expect to find in our parents, if we dig a little deeper into the storehouses of our parents secrets we may find that they have spent their entire lives manufacturing marmalade, or secretly fighting the battles that we thought they were avoiding all along.

  13. I enjoyed going to see a preview of “Andy and the Shadows” on Thursday night. I was able to understand things that I had not understood previously and to see the play as one smooth movement was also enjoyable.

    Understanding the flashback scenes and who was supposed to be who was the best experience this time around watching the play. I am grateful for seeing the design run last week because I am not certain that I would have been able to piece together all of the characters had I not previously seen the play. For me, there is a lot going on in the play. There are scenes depicting the past, the present, and all the while Andy has “hallucinations.” Sometimes it was a bit difficult for me to figure out what only Andy was seeing in the play and what everyone was seeing, and in fact how real his “hallucinations” were. That being said, I do not think my confusion had a lot to do with the coherence of the play itself. When overhearing the conversations that other members of the audience were having about the play, it was evident that they knew who was who in the flashbacks and seemed to follow the play just fine.
    Altogether, I enjoyed the play because it was a glimpse into the viewpoint of a man who is facing the new beginnings of life as his engagement to Sarah becomes more and more real. Typically, (heterosexual) weddings are all about a woman who is getting married and not a man who is participating in the marriage as well. I liked how it displayed the nervousness and anxiety of Andy because it is a perspective that one does not typically see. During the discussion, one audience member mentioned how it seemed as if Andy was using Sarah to advance his own mission of self-discovery. While this may be seen as being true because the play overwhelmingly focuses on Andy, this may also just be a consequence of the nature of the play focusing primarily on one character.

    I continue to like this play, as seeing it for the second time has allowed me to ask myself new questions and to notice things I did not notice before.

  14. Andy and the Shadows was an experience that had me thinking about a number of things when the show ended, which was why I didn’t have many questions during the post show discussions because I think I was still in a pensive state. Nevertheless one of the things I have been thinking about is what I like to consider one’s “journey.” This play seemed to me the telling of a part of his journey through life and for whatever reason sought adventure and seemed to only think that could come from suffering.

    Andy’s search for suffering bothered me just as much as it did the first time we saw the play during the design run. I guess it really bothered me that he wanted to focus on his parent’s journey instead of creating his own. I think one’s identity is indeed tied to their history but his search for connections to his heritage through suffering in my opinion kept him from valuing what he has today. Similarly I find that I have connections to my ancestors through suffering but I think that my dwelling on their experiences could prevent me from fully appreciating the fact that their sufferings afforded my freedoms and also prevent me from creating my own. Hardship isn’t an indicator of nor central to living but it can be a part of it. With that said, I was left feeling like the play was very open ended in that we didn’t find out where Andy truly was in his journey.

    In my last blog I wrote about Earnest Hemingway “Finally a literary buff moment: Andy’s obsession with Earnest Hemingway was intriguing and understandable considering that the theme of much of his works was war and love. But even beyond that it was his adventures that probably attracted Andy to his work- much of that being reporting on wars like the Spanish Civil War and World War II and taking Safaris.” I think Andy’s fascination with Hemingway was something that I didn’t think about as much seeing the play this time around, nevertheless I still see those same connections and why he was so drawn to his works. When Hemingway wasn’t writing about adventures he was living them.

    Finally, I thought about the mediums of storytelling that were apparent in this play: verbal (i.e. Raya), archival (Nate) and videography (Andy). I think a point that was definitely being driven home was that holding on to stories is important even at the risk of altering the original story.

    • Jamesa, I completely agree with your views on how Andy should focus on his journey versus his parents. He really is consumed by the suffering aspect of it and does not take the “freedom” Raya wants to give him, nor any appreciation of those intentions. But it seems like it is very easy to fall into that style of thinking, so it is very admirable on your part that you have recognized how you cannot dwell on it.

      As for where Andy is in his journey at the end of the play, we are clearly at a turning point in how he regards his mother, with their conversation in the jail and determining his scream, and his father, with his realization in the hospital room that they are more similar than he thought. And as a fifty-year old he seems much more grounded in his identity. By reading your post, I realized that I am increasingly interested in the transition in between. My first impression would be that the developments Andy makes would be extremely liberating, but how does one let go of an obsessive mindset one has had for their entire life? It seems like it would be a new struggle for Andy, one that may not be able to be best captured in the time-restricted arena of theatre, but nuanced and fascinating regardless.

    • I too was annoyed by Andy’s pursuit of authenticity through his parents experiences. It is interesting to think about life’s journey and how we all have family legacies but it is also our responsibility to build our own for future generations to build upon.

      If one searches for suffering in their family, one will find it. Thinking about my parents, I realize that every sacrifice that they have made for my sister and I has been rooted in something lacking in their own childhood. For my mother, being raised by a single mother who had to work all the time and had very little time for her children resulted in my mother ensuring that she had time for us, even if she had to work nights or take time away from work to be at home. My father’s father worked all the time as well and was often too tired to spend the extra time with him, resulting in my pops making sure he guided me through my maturation process. Both have made sacrifices for me to achieve my education.

      Unlike Andy, I have realized that my journey is my own, and that while I have the pain of my ancestors on my shoulder, I will not let it hinder my life. In fact, it will motivate me.

  15. I thoroughly enjoyed “Andy and the Shadows”. Congratulations to Professor Roth for a great production. We were present for the design run a few weeks ago. It was a good experience to see how the actors perfected their lines, and learned their places on the stage. It was even more interesting to see the finished stage and the costumes. These things helped me follow the show better this time, as I am a visual learner. The design run was a great exercise of the imagination though.

    One thing that I was interested in was Andy’s pursuit of “duende” and his authenticity. As the play was set in his 20’s, Andy like all of us was in search of himself and what he is about. However, it seemed as though he was unable to get to know himself because of his obsession with tragedy in his family history, particularly that of his mother and his perception of the lack of tragedy in his father’s background. He felt as though he could not be living without his own tragedy, when his mother intended to shield him and her other children from the type of pain that she experienced. Andy’s authenticity was so caught up in his parent’s stories, that he became angry at how they lived their lives like a “regular” family. He was afraid of committing to marrying Sarah because he didn’t want to be an average person. He lived his life like he could not live up to the hero that he perceived his mother to be. He committed to “saving” his family and misinterpreted it trying to manipulate the way they lived their lives.

    Throughout the play, Andy focuses on portraying his family’s story in film. On the way he upsets his fiancé, his mother and his father. His pursuit of meaning and authenticity became a selfish one even though he was not searching for self. In one scene his mother told him about his rage and that it wasn’t even his and that it was hers and he had no right to feel as if he was the one to experience pain and tragedy. We all have family legacies. Some of which have dark past that have shaped the way we interact as a family. However, Andy needed to realize that his families past did not have to consume him, and that it was up to him to build on the legacy.

    • Mark, I agree with your statements about Andy’s “duende” and family history as I wrote about this (kind of) in my post as well. To put it bluntly, Andy needs to move on. What was interesting to me was Andy’s conversation with his fiancé, Sarah. Andy was talking and Sarah said to Andy that he is acting as if they haven’t lived. Andy proceeded to say that they haven’t lived. This was strange and interesting because he seems so entrapped in learning about the unfortunate things in life, such as suffering and oppression that his family faced, that he fails to move on with his life or anyone else’s for that matter. He pushes his mother to the limit just do discover the “true” story behind her childhood and the war. Andy has lived, in my opinion; he just is not and has not embraced it. Rather than worrying about not living life, he should begin now and start enjoying.

    • During the design run I also thought a lot about “Duende” and what it was supposed to mean in the context of this play. I think that it was interesting how you connected his pursuit of authenticity to his 20’s and thus is pursuit of self. I think that was brilliant simply because it might have added explanation to some of the feelings of anxiety I sensed from Andy early in the play. Like how he began by what I felt was ranting for the first 5minutes, the sense of urgency like time would slip away from him if he didn’t know the fullness of his parent’s story. I appreciate how you thought of this in the terms “he was unable to get to know himself because of obsession with tragedy in his family history and I agree completely. Well put.

  16. Watching the play “Andy and the Shadows” twice was definitely a valuable opportunity, especially the first time as a designer’s run, and the second time as a preview. I really enjoyed watching both of them, and I must say that the opportunity to watch a play twice really gave me a different look and I think it was beneficial to the learning process of theater production. Additionally, I just want to add that I found the cast to be very gifted.

    This play surely portrayed the dynamics between Andy and the rest of the family. Throughout the play, I was able to witness Andy’s frustration in finding his identity. It seemed to me that Andy was living with a sense of guilt, and he was giving himself a lot of pressure to succeed. I could feel for him, and I am sure it was tough, because it is so easy to get lost with oneself. Finding one’s true identity can be difficult, and may involve a lot of emotions. In Andy’s case, trying to learn from his parents’ past was definitely not an easy topic to discuss. From my understanding, I recognize that this play is not completely based on real events, and I think the mixture of non-fiction and imagination makes the play interesting because it allows room for inspiration.

    I think this play was powerful in a way that it explored around self-reflection and identity. Specifically, I think this play served as a premise of learning about the past and understanding our family’s history. It is important to know because it shapes our identity. Some events in the past may not be very pleasant, but we must embrace the past with open arms so we are able to learn and progress forward with a mindset of creating a better future for our next generation.

  17. After seeing Andy and the Shadows for the second time, I was amazed at how much the play had transformed from its rehearse stage. The first thing that struck me was how much the staging and sound effects added to my ability to understand the show. I really felt the sound effects were terrific. In particular, the sound effects helped me to differentiate between the dream segments from the reality segments. I also found the sets to be very fun and creative. The roof top was one of my favorite sets this semester. It was a small change to the set that made all the difference in the world in telling the story.
    Two actors stood out to me during the performance, Michael Claybourne and Davis Hasty. Their ability to play off one another was remarkable. Also, I really enjoyed their dialog and found it add a nice touch of humor to the production. I was impressed by the ability of Michael Claybourne to play a number of different characters during the performance. It was remarkable how quickly he was able to change costumes from one scene to the next.
    My one regret during the performance was my lack of knowledge of Jewish culture and history. I felt some of the jokes were lost on me as I had no personal or historical context to place them. This made me feel slightly out of place and even quiet lost at points throughout the show. All in all, I was very impressed how far the play had come over such a short period of time. Once again, the ability of the actors to learn their lines and actions, on top of everything else in their lives, is truly amazing to me.

    • Wow I should’ve read your post before I wrote mine… We seriously had the exact same things. I totally agree that I felt out of place with all of the Jewish cultural references. It made me feel like there was a whole subplot of the play that I completely missed out on. And I completely agree that Michael Claybourne and Davis Hastings were incredible! I can’t imagine how much work it would be to develop so many characters and play them all within a span of two hours each with such unique traits and quirks.

      Apparently great minds think alike!

    • Brian, I really liked that you voiced this. I completely agree with you that I felt lost at some points throughout the play because I did not have a deep enough knowledge of Jewish Culture and history. I also think having a greater knowledge in Israeli history wouldn’t have hurt either. I felt lost at some points because I felt like I couldn’t relate to the characters during scenes where a Jewish reference was made; I often pondered on whether I actually knew my history lessons and it unfortunately distracted me from the play. However, I felt more lost during the designer run than I did in the preview. Having seen the play previously and being better able to visualize the scenes, I followed the overall themes of the play better during the preview. Although I would be lost at some points in the play, I felt like “Andy and the Shadows” really gripped my attention throughout the show due to the strong themes that I found personally relevant. Regardless of my confusion, I think the show can really relate to everyone. The focus on family and trying to navigate through a disorderly period in Andy’s life helped grab my focus on the story as well as the messages I got from the play. Overall, I may have been confused at some points, but I felt strongly connected to the play due to the message I received.

  18. Unlike the other students in this class, I was unable to see the full rehearsal of Andy and the Shadows. I was able to see the first act, but I was excited to be going into the actual production without having seen the ending.

    When watching the play rehearsal, we did have an idea of the set we would see on stage. We knew there would be multiple levels, which is something we haven’t seen in any of the other plays (if my memory serves me correctly!). What we didn’t experience in the dress rehearsal was all of the sound effects that would play a large role in the play.

    This play was really interesting in that it showed scenes from the past and the present. I think this is something very difficult to do in a play, which is why it is something not often done. In movies, it is relatively easy to show scenes from the past and present one after another because different effects can be used to distinguish them. In a play, this is something not easily done. I appreciate that young Raya always wore angel wings. I did find it confusing however, that young Raya was played by Colleen Delaney rather than Jennifer Medenhall. I understand that almost all of the characters (all expect Alexander Strain) had more than one role, but I feel like since young and old Raya were still the same character that they had both been played by Jennifer Mendenhall. The first time I saw this play I was very confused because young Raya wasn’t wearing angel wings in the rehearsal. It was definitely easier to understand in the actual production when the angel wings were used to distinguish young vs old Raya.

    This play used a lot of Jewish phrases, traditions, and even some hebrew (I think??). Unfortunately, I was not able to understand these parts and they sorta went over my head. I think I would’ve had a better understanding of this play if I knew more about the Jewish culture.

    I have to say I was so thrilled when I learned that Alexander Strain would take the lead role as Andy in this play. He was undoubtedly my favorite actor in Glengary so I was enthused to see him again. I think he was absolutely terrific!!!!! His mannerisms and way of speaking always made it feel like he was really interacting with the audience. I would imagine that Strain added more complexity to the character of Andy when he was cast as the role.

    I would also like to say that although they had smaller parts, Michael Claybourne and Davis Hasty were absolutely hilarious. Whenever they walked on stage I prepared myself for some comical lines. It takes a lot of talent to come in and off stage as many different characters within one play, but I believe these two did it well.

    Back to the note of the sound effects, I must say my favorite combination of sound effects and acting was during the roof top fight scene when Andy jumped in slow motion off the roof to fight James and Jerry.

    Overall, this cast was terrific. Each actor fit each role so ideally!

    Another terrific production!

    P.S. Sorry this post is late… I was a little distracted by MICHIGAN WINNING THEIR GAME IN THE FINAL FOUR!!!!!!!!!!!!

    And I also saw American Utopias. So I had a busy day Saturday.

    Please forgive me🙂

  19. I second what Sarah said about this post being late!

    Andy And The Shadows was an experience unlike any other. I was able to hear about the writing and process of producing the play, I went to a rehearsal, and I was able to attend a preview on Thursday night. It was a transformation process as I was able to see the set, characters, and plot come to life. I was initially intrigued by all of the stories professor Roth chose to share with us in class, and my interest was heightened when I saw the preview.

    When seeing the complete live performance of Andy And The Shadows, I was at first a bit confused. Many of the things that I saw being practiced in the rehearsal were completely cut out of the play or altered significantly. Seeing as the actors spent a lot of time rehearsing these elements, like a fight scene on the second floor of the set, I was surprised that they were left out. I talked to Professor Roth about it during the post show discussion, and he said that they were cut because the director didn’t want them or they took up too much time. I was slightly disappointed because I was somewhat looking forward to watching a fight break out on stage.

    Another thing that really struck me about Andy And The Shadows, was the intense use of imagery and flashbacks. Sometimes it was hard to keep up with the weaving in and out of settings, but I got used to Andy’s thought process after awhile, and was able to follow the twists and turns of the play. But I guess that’s what happens in a dream…there’s no straight line or path of thought. Everything jumps around subject to the dreamer’s focus.

    Andy kept revisiting his youth in his dream and I think, in a way, he was hoping his parent’s past would help explain the purpose and point of his existence. I think Andy felt unconnected and confused, and did not really have much sense of purpose. He was a son, a brother, a friend, and a fiance…but I don’t think he could quite grasp what that meant to him.

    Throughout the play, Andy was visited by the ghost of his Mother’s younger self, whom only he could see. I have not quite unraveled the purpose of this symbol, but I think it was just another component of his dream. I think since he loves, respects, and listens to his mother so muchmore than anyone else, the ghost was meant to be a eminder to him of her presence. Andy’s Mother’s presence and Andy’s devotion and reliance on her eventually drives a wedge between he and Sarah, causing her to leave him. He did not seem in a big rush to get married and I think she got sick of him dragging his feet.

    Overall, Andy And The Shadows was a phenomenal show. It was very complex and thought-provoking, while still having a satisfactory amount of comedy. I am excited to talk about it more in class and the broaden my understanding of the plot .

  20. I think, although drawn from the poetic residue of a different culture, the concept of “duende” encapsulates the loftiness, perceived urgency, and ephemerality of the American Dream. If we replaced the career-oriented focus of the American Dream with a sense of artistic passion, it would closely resemble “duende”. It almost evokes the same sense of exceptionalism as does the American Dream…the idea that there is something larger for which to strive. This is definitely the sense I got from Andy’s character, as well as something with which I personally identify. It can be so tempting to convince yourself that you are capable of that glory. The source of that idea can be multifaceted…the glories of your family history or its failures, a desire to return or a desire to escape, etc. I think the inherent beauty and tragedy of this concept really took flight in “Andy and the Shadows.”

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