Behind the Curtain

Official Blog of International City Theatre

Jennifer Cannon: Abigail Williams in the Flesh

April 24th, 2015

Jennifer Cannon

1. How are rehearsals going?

Rehearsals are amazing. It is good, hard work that ALL of us are putting in. caryn desai is allowing her actors to explore and “play” in an effort to find the best choice for the scene or character. That freedom has opened a gate of true artistic expression from her actors and we are still discovering nuances and layers that are adding to the richness of this play, its characters and their relationships.

2. What do you hope audiences take from Abigail/1702?

I hope audiences will walk away remembering that we ALL struggle with the light and dark in our souls. We should all find a way to embrace and accept our darkness as part of who we are but not let it RULE us.  Abigail is creating a path for herself. She wholeheartedly accepts her demons and her mistakes but is desperately fighting to not let them rule her life. Whether we are learning that for the first time or just need to be reminded, we can all learn something from Abigail’s plight.

Jennifer Cannon in Abigail/1702

Jennifer Cannon in Abigail/1702

3. Since the play centers around your search for redemption, what are your thoughts on the ideas of “falling from grace” and “righting your wrongs”?

I believe “falling from grace” does not just refer to a holy or supernatural “grace.” It can also mean falling from the grace of others or even yourself. You can make choices that garner the disappointment from your family or disapproval from your friends. You can also fall out of favor with yourself. “Righting your wrongs” can be asking forgiveness in an effort to show remorse or engage in an action that will possibly make a situation better. But ultimately, “righting a wrong” begins in yourself. Acknowledging and embracing your mistake, taking action to correct the issue, and then truly letting it go and moving on. We are all human and can only strive to be balanced.

4. Is it difficult to create a character on stage who has already been created in another story? If yes, what are those difficulties?

It is a double-edged sword. Because this is not a new character there is a lot of research and history that provides clues to how the character should be portrayed. But that is only the foundation. This is a new chapter in a character’s life, and more specifically, a different side and color of that person. There are preconceived notions and expectations for Abigail Williams and this play is challenging those ideas. She is not as simple as she may have appeared in The Crucible. There is so much more that goes so much deeper, and trying to do justice to that while still showing a completely different side of her and against the stereotype and audience expectation is a challenge indeed.

5. What play or novel might you want to see an imagined sequel to?

Pygmalion (or My Fair Lady) would be very interesting. How is Eliza Doolittle getting on? Did she marry Freddy? How have the skills she learned from Henry Higgins hindered or helped her?  It would be interesting to explore that strong female character and her relationship with Higgins well after her time of tutoring. Ten years after her time with Higgins would put her in the Roaring Twenties. I would want to see her in that period!

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