Behind the Curtain

Official Blog of International City Theatre

Mary Jo DuPrey Loves Command of Complex Language

June 15th, 2016

Mary Jo DuPrey

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, now in its second week of a four-week run, has received a wonderful response from audiences since it opened. Our critically acclaimed production is led under the direction of Mary Jo DuPrey. We asked her some questions about her work on this side-splitting show, and she was kind enough to respond. Enjoy!

1.  Since this is your first time directing at ICT, what has your experience been like?

Directing at ICT has been so wonderful.  ICT is dedicated to bringing the very best scripts to stage with the very best actors in town, which is always a pleasure for a director!

2. As someone who has also acted, how does that influence your approach as a director?

I think being an actor gives you a very good platform to work with actors because you have the ability to imagine the approach an actor may take and that provides a very good start for conversation about script and character.  Also, training as an actor gives you the proper vocabulary and understanding to communicate with actors in a way that is meaningful and useful to them.

Leslie Stevens, Stephen Rockwell, Connor McRaith and Jennifer Parsons in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike at ICT.
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3. Is there added pressure when directing a play with accolades such as Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike?

Yes, of course, there is that pressure because many people have seen the play and have very strong ties to the original.  On the other hand, the play often receives those accolades because the writing is so good, and it’s always easier to direct a great script than an average one.

4. Since he is one of the most prolific playwrights of the modern era, what do you think makes Christopher Durang such a respected playwright?

I think Durang is one of the few modern playwrights who has such an unerring command of complex language.  The more we delved into this script, the more the actors and I discovered the need to be letter perfect and not paraphrase because even the slightest misplaced word lessened the work.  He is so witty and erudite, and works with language in a way that one rarely sees anymore.

5.  What do you hope audiences take from seeing Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike?

Well, I think the kernel of the play is inside Vanya’s monologue in which he bemoans the current state of American culture, but, unlike Chekhov, Durang gives a more hopeful, optimistic solution to modern angst, and that is to find refuge in family and those you love.  I think that way, it’s not unlike The Wizard of Oz.  “There’s no place like home.”  Though ‘home’ may mean different things for different people, it is essentially, very true.

For more information or to purchase tickets to Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike: please visit or call 562.436.4610.

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