Interview Column: Connor Wahrman '17
This week, JustArts sat down with Connor Wahrman ’17, who plays Peter in the forthcoming production of “At Home/At The Zoo,” which opens this week.
justArts: For those who don’t know anything about “At Home/At the Zoo,” can you just tell me a little bit about the play and its structure?
Connor Wahrman: What we’re doing is a one-act version of [the play]. It’s the original version, which is called “The Zoo Story.” Later on, Edward Albee — may he rest in peace as of a few days ago — decided to tack on another segment in Peter’s home, making it “At Home/At The Zoo.” So in “Zoo Story,” it’s just two characters. Me, for the most part on a bench, and Jerry, played by Dan Souza ’19, for the most part off the bench. I don’t want to spoil reveals at the end, but a lot of it goes into the nature of theater, the double role of the actor and the character, theater both as representation and performance at the same time.
JA: How are you guys playing with the material and the structure of the show?
CW: Albee was notorious for making things always his way. If he found out that you were deviating in blocking or lines or anything, legend has it that he would shut you down. So despite that, we have gone ahead and changed some things to get across the directorial vision of Raphael [Stigliano ’18]. We had the idea of incorporating lines from the “At Home” part into the scenery. We toyed with the idea of, in different performances, the actors switching roles — decided to scrap [those ideas]. But those were the kinds of things that inform the direction of the way that we’re taking it. With those ideas in the background, it helps in observing the performance.
JA: What’s it like working with such a small cast and crew?
CW: At rehearsals, it’s usually just me, Dan, Raph and our stage manager Delaney Palma ’19. And it’s very familiar. Usually when you come to rehearsals [for other shows], you’re in a scene with a few people. There’s a large cast, but most scenes are one-on-one or three people carrying on activities, so it’s not that different [at these rehearsals] — except for it’s always just me and the one person. And you just get to know everybody a little bit better.
JA: Edward Albee passed away very recently. Are you planning to memorialize him in any way in the performances?
CW: There will probably be an after-show thing. [W]e’re not changing the show itself at all in result of his death. But there will be mention in the playbill and post-show “Thanks for coming.’”We dedicate this show in memory of Edward Albee, although he probably wouldn’t appreciate it.
JA: Can you tell me a little about your character — to what extent you’re comfortable with without giving away anything?
CW: It’s hard to find the line between lower-upper middle class and upper-upper middle class, but [Peter’s] somewhere around there. He’s a family man in his forties but dresses a little younger because he wants to. He’s a smoker, but with a pipe, so he keeps it classy. And he’s at the park. You’ll learn a little more about him as the show goes on, some of which is just lines and some of which has meaning later on. So you’ll just have to see it.