Combining the Personal and Political

Amy Blackman plays Kyra in Skylight. 

I was born in England and moved to New York City in the year 2000.

AMYBLACKMANHEADSHOTFULLREZYears later, as a 17 year old searching for college audition pieces, I stumbled across a speech in Stuff Happens by David HareThe speech was by a character named simply “A Brit in New York.”

Using dense language such as “the infantile pyscho-babble of popular culture” this character argued how America had changed post 9/11. As a British-New Yorker whose first day of 7th grade was 9/11 and shortly after stood on the end of her block alone outside a Starbucks with posters protesting the US invasion of Iraq, I finally felt I’d found my voice in Hare’s argument.

In hindsight, it’s a miracle that any college decided to accept this angry British girl spewing rhetoric about the state of American politics into their BFA program, but I’m grateful they did.

What drew me to Hare’s writing then just as it does working on Skylight now is his ability to combine the personal and political. The language is complex and brilliant. It requires great specificity and stamina. During the last few weeks rehearsing at Gulfshore Playhouse with our director Christian Parker and fellow actors Todd Weeks and Evan Sibley, we have worked hard to break down and carve this rich play with as much clarity and nuance as we can. All three of the character’s arguments are complicated, contradictory, full of love, anger, guilt, betrayal, and fueled by their history and upbringing.

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The text requires the same attention to detail that Shakespeare does. And similarly to Shakespeare, Hare’s writing reflects how we as humans really think. It’s been thrilling to explore with such a dedicated and talented group of artists.

The result is electric. The language moves and flies and twists and turns. Skylight is a play where you continuously hear surprising, new ideas night after night. And just as my 17-year-old self found the language for her frustration and isolation in Stuff Happens, Hare’s Skylight gives voice to points of view – deeply personal and political – that on our own we may struggle to find the words for.

Skylight is playing at Gulfshore Playhouse through May 19th. Tickets starting at $45. 

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