Interview with Marlee Feacher (Risa) for Two Trains Running
17-year old Marlee Feacher, plays the only female role in August Wilson's Two Trains Running, which will be her first production outside of school. She will be working alongside a seasoned cast of six men, all who have more years and experience. However, her maturity and vulnerability exhibit a confidence and talent that usually only comes with time.
We got to learn more about how she feels working one of August Wilson's most profound plays with some of the most highly regarded actors in the Jacksonville community. We dove a little deeper and asked us about her character choices and overall experience at Players by the Sea.
Q: What do you think August Wilson's greatest message is through this play? How does he display this?
A: I think the greatest message that August Wilson wants to get across is the differing ideas of justice and what it means to different people. Every character is fighting for their own form of justice, and many of them have different ideas of what it actually means. Through everyone’s struggle and journey outside of the restaurant, Wilson manages to create a safe space for the characters to talk about their experiences and learn from one another.
Q: Tell me about your character. How do you relate to Risa and how are you working to display those connections through your acting?
A: Risa is a strong woman, she has no issue taking care of herself and being the only woman in the room. She stands out by her ability to fit in and have a voice around men. Although Risa may be a woman of few words she has no issue saying how she feels, she cowers down to no one. She takes back control of a body so many men have walked over and abused, by creating scars that can only lead you to see the person behind the mask. I’d like to believe I’m the same way, that I have a presence around me that speaks to my strength, that I can fit into any room regardless of my gender. As I prepare to play Risa, I recognize the confidence I exude when I walk into a room, speak to a peer, or simply observe the world and amplify it on stage with a maturity and grace.
Q: When Sterling (played by William Sivad) first flirts with Risa, she shows lack of interest. However, by the end, there is a dynamic shift in her actions towards him. Why is this? How are you working to display this development?
A: Risa has a distrust for men, she must develop a strong reassuring bond with a man before she can let down her walls. She keeps a mental checklist of what she wants in a man before showing any interest. When I first read the script I was taken aback by their relationship because I saw no buildup in the lines to the shift in their dynamic. Through the process of trying to get inside of Risa's mind and studying the script, I saw that the majority of flirting between the two comes across in the subtext and not in the actual lines.
Q: How has your experience been rehearsing with a cast of older men?
A: As the only female, and the youngest, this process has definitely been different for me. I was bit nervous when I first got cast that it might get a bit uncomfortable at times, but as we grow a community with one another it becomes easier for me to get into the mindset of Risa and her ability to hold her own in a room full of men. Working with such a talented and wise cast has helped me learn so much. This being my first time doing a show outside of my school, the amount of experience my cast mates have exceeds mine by far. I love watching as the rest of them work, I can certainly say I leave every rehearsal learning something new.
Q: What are some of the most valuable take aways you've learned through the rehearsal process so far?
A: Although I am far from done with learning from Two Trains, all I’ve learned so far has been tremendous help throughout this process. One of the main aspects that I’ve had to work on for this show is staying present. Risa is almost always on stage and she is constantly working while customers in the shop carry on with their lives. It has been easy for me to zone out or lose track of time but I have learned to work past this by watching my cast mates react and stay present and continuously reminding myself to do the same.
Q: How has it been to work with Brian Niece (Director)? What do you like about his directing style?
A: Working with Brian has been very fun, his directing style is very personalized, he has a way of teaching you things without you knowing you’re being taught. What I’ve really enjoyed about working with him is the freedom to play and try new things. There is no such thing as a wrong choice with Brian, even if he questions your choices, he never makes you feel bad for making them or tells you to change, he simply plants a seed in your mind and allows you to make the choices.
Q: Why should people come to see Two Trains Running?
A: I think people should come see Two Trains Running because it still applies to society today. In the midst of tackling such a heavy topic we still invite people into our community, allowing them to feel safe. Audience members will leave with information to be digested and analyzed as they can see the art mirrored in their every day life. It is a tremendous education delivered in an entertaining, amusing, comedic way.
Tickets are selling fast for this installment of August Wilson's groundbreaking American Century Cycle! Get your tickets online or call 904.249.0289!