Evan Sibley plays Edward Seargent in Skylight.
I have had the great pleasure of performing in not one but two productions with Gulfshore Playhouse this year being in both In the Next Room or the Vibrator Play and Skylight! In both shows I was so excited to play two men whom I think should be seen on our stages today. The stories we are told affect the stories we tell ourselves and the stories we tell ourselves affect our entire lives. Too often we are told stories about men who never get upset and never need help. They are two-dimensional, unrealistic, and usually have great one-liners as they walk away from explosions. My two roles with Gulfshore Playhouse, I’m proud to say, play on and break this trend.
In The Vibrator Play I played Leonard Irving who, from the start, is an unconventional man. He is sensitive, emotional, and generally more “feminine” than “masculine”. He speaks very freely of his emotional and sexual attraction to his most recent muse when many men would pick their words (if any) very carefully to discuss such things. In his opening scene, Leo exposes infinitely more weakness and pain than many men do in an entire play. But Leo also falls victim to the traditional role when he refuses to listen to his love interest when she repeatedly rejects his advances. In this story, however, Leo pays for this. Elizabeth slaps him and he is so heartbroken that he immediately flees to Paris. Leo is an incredible male character to have on stage because he both breaks traditional male tropes of emotionless strength but also falls into a traditional trap by not listening to others.
Fast forward 110 years and across the ocean to England for Skylight. Here I play Edward Seargent who, at first, seems to be your typical rebellious teenage boy. A self described “shit”, leaving home after fights with his father, and listening to Eminem and Wu-Tang Clan. He arrives unannounced at Kyra’s apartment and demands she help his father out of his depressed state. Edward does ask for help (clumsily) in this first scene but his fear of his softer emotions keeps him from getting to the real heart of the issue: that he is lonely, scared, and wants someone to show him love.* At the end of the play, however, Edward reenters and does the remarkable thing that Leo did not. Edward admits he made a mistake and shows Kyra his vulnerable need for love. And it is not easy! He is embarrassed, constantly apologizing for and undercutting this with humor, and we see that this young man is doing something very brave. He is exposing a soft part of himself that he has likely not shown to anyone since he was a little boy.
The people we see on the stage, screen, and page have a profound effect on how we move through the world. It is the duty of artists who tell those stories to make sure that they help people move through the world better than before. It has been a tremendous honor of mine to tell the stories of these two men who have so much to teach us and I only hope that my performances have highlighted some of what I have written about today.
* After this first scene Edward’s father enters and tries to rekindle his affair with Kyra and the play wrestles with the ideas I have been writing about (and MANY more). I won’t talk about this part of the play because you just have to come see it 😉
Skylight is playing at Gulfshore Playhouse through May 19th.