Iona Holder talks directing and ‘Proposals’
Q: Why did you choose Neil Simon’s “Proposals”?
A: I am usually drawn to new plays, but I really wanted to pay homage to Neil Simon’s legacy and expose the actors and the audience to traditional American theater. Neil Simon is one of those playwrights that I think everyone should have some exposure to and [“Proposals”] is a sweet, sentimental comedy-slash-drama, and it’s charming and nostalgic. And I appreciate those parts of it. When I first read this script last spring I cried, I laughed, I cried again, and I laughed some more. This script has huge emotion. It’s just one of those really touching stories of family and I think that everybody can understand it. Either someone longs for it or is grateful for it.
Q: How would you describe yourself as a director?
A: There are certain styles of directing. My personal style is that of an interpretive director. I view playwrights as philosophers who have something to share and myself as the translator. I try to stay as true to the precise intentions of the playwright and the script as I possibly can, because I understand that they chose every word for a reason. If they wanted to cut it out, they would have. I sometimes spend 45 minutes on a word because actors have to understand how to say it in the right context. Subtext is prevalent in our everyday life. The same three words can mean something completely different depending on how you say them.
Q: How do you think the audience will react to this play?
A: This play covers the different kinds of relationships, and the good and bad of relationships. It’s one of those highly-relatable plays where everyone will be able to relate to someone in the play because they have experienced it: whether they have been that guy or known that girl. And that’s always a comfortable, fun place for the audience to be. And there is great comic relief that I think a lot of people like.
Q: What are you most excited about regarding “Proposals?”
A: I am working with an incredible production team – the people designing costumes, lights, sound. We are working together as a production team to create an authentic experience, and there are going to be some little surprises. Something we’re actually starting this week is working with a dialect coach. We are trying to be extremely authentic to 1953. We have a fantastic set designer, also. With this production team, I feel like I’m able to dream as big as I possibly can. There are a few surprises that I think are going to make this play not just a play to see but one to experience.
Q: When you direct a play yourself and then watch it, does it take some of the magic away because you know what happens behind the scenes, or is it that much greater because you see the hard work pay off?
A: Well, the work is never done. I don’t actually see it as an end, even when the play is over, because it’s all about the journey. The payoff for me is when they’re cast in another play and they’re better able to trust their instinct. I don’t really see the payoff until I see them succeed later. That’s where the circle completes — when they recognize their own brilliance that I see in them.
Q: Which character do you think the audience will be most intrigued by?
A: I don’t pick favorite characters. I adore all of them for different reasons. There’s comic relief in a couple of specific characters that I know some people will be drawn to, but then the powerful emotions of other characters will be something that others will relate to. When it’s all said and done, it depends on who you attach yourself to. What you take with you depends on who you are and where you are in your life. I almost feel like it would be unfair to have a favorite because it would be like telling the audience, “This is what you should like.”
Interested in seeing “Proposals?” The show will be playing Nov. 7-10 and Nov. 13-17 at 8 p.m. and Nov. 11 and 18 at 2 p.m. General admission tickets are $14; $10 for senior citizens, GC Faculty and non-GC students; and $5 for GC students.