Double or Nothing: An Interview with Olivia and Theresa
Following last week’s Behind the Scenes interview with two of the Windfall cast, the Brelby Buzz sits down with two of the three women of the show to discuss their characters and thoughts on some of the darker themes addressed by the show. Brelby Artistic Director, Shelby Maticic and Company Member, Megan O’Connor help get us prepared for the heavier side of this dark comedy that deals with responsibility, love, loss, and what it really means to be loyal.
Brelby Buzz: What character do you portray in Windfall? Are there any significant similarities or differences you notice between you and your character.
Shelby Maticic: I portray Olivia. I think that, while Olivia isn’t based on one person, there are some pretty clear parallels between us; this comes with the territory of being married to the writer. She’s a grad student, pursuing a terminal degree in a field that melds business and the creative industries. She’s this interesting blend of being a peacemaker and blunt. She doesn’t really take sides when the boys are in fights, even though she’s been with Trent for about a decade. She’s been friends with the two of them for even longer, and she places a lot of value in the fact that Owen is one of her best friends. She loves Trent, but she openly admits when he’s in the wrong.
Megan O’Connor: I’m playing Theresa, who is Trent’s mother. The biggest difference between us is about 26 years, children, and more tragedy than I’ve experienced (fortunately for me). Theresa is a mother in her 50’s and I’m not, but she is very serious and career driven as am I. I’ve decided in developing her from the conversations with Fernando, Brian, and the cast, that she’s not a working mother, but a career woman with a child and in my mind there’s a big difference between those two women. That distinction is helping me figure out not only who she is, but her relationship with Trent. There are definitely parts to her that I can see myself becoming in the future and others that I see as a potential for me and hope I don’t follow exactly behind her. But for all of her flaws and in spite of her heartache, she can be kind and doesn’t take anyone’s crap and if there’s anything people say about me now or in 26 years, I hope it’s something along those lines.
BB: Talk about your favorite part of the rehearsal process so far.
Shelby: We came into this process already being a very tight knit group. Chelsea is the newest to Brelby, but she’s been a part of Results May Vary for months now, so we know her too. Over half of the cast are my roommates, and I’ve been best friends with Megan since high school. We didn’t have to do a lot of the early team building activities that new casts sometimes need, because we have a comfort level and chemistry already. So…I’ve loved getting to jump in and work right away. I’m also loving how physical this show is. It’s a different kind of physicality than I’m used to, and I’m really enjoying the challenge.
Megan: I love the challenge this show provides for all of us, and it’s been really fun to work with some of my favorite Results in a different setting. We’re all hilarious and to take on something so dark and heartbreaking is going to shock some people, but we’ve got chops! We’ll make the funny parts hilarious, but the emotion everyone is starting to bring to each rehearsal will blow you away. And I agree with Shelby, the process has been really fluid and fun since we all already know each other so well but it’s been great to work with Chelsea on her first Brelby show outside of Results May Vary! Fernando is also one of the most interesting directors I’ve worked with. I’ve watched him with other actors and on other projects and he has a very clear vision of what he wants and how he thinks things should look, and personally, he has a great way of eliciting emotions and reactions without you feeling overwhelmed or like you’re being told what and how to do it. He’s got style, keep an eye out for him. Rehearsing for this show was really daunting to me at first, but it’s been so wonderful even on the hard days and that’s definitely due to the people I’m surrounded by.
BB: Discuss the challenges you are faced with from the first read through and now to the rehearsal room when bringing a world premiere to life on the stage.
Shelby: World premieres are my jam. I love breathing life into brand new characters. That being said…Brian has written a very challenging piece for us. It’s a dark comedy (which is his jam), so while in one scene I am jumping over the couch to grab wine bottles for dinner…in another I’m grieving the loss of my partner. The range of emotions is huge, and it’s like running a marathon each night. I don’t get cast in dramatic roles very often, and I’m very rarely cast as this kind of love interest. I appreciate how encouraging our entire team is. We’re just about to get to the point in rehearsal where the real character work and emotional digging happens, and I’m terrified but ready. I’m glad that these are my cast mates. They’re going to have my back.
Megan: Theresa hasn’t changed a lot from the first read through. Brian wrote a really interesting and well-developed character with her, but I immediately began to panic after seeing how much she goes through over the course of this play–it’s definitely the most dramatic role I’ve ever had, the most serious, and the most emotionally engaging character I’ve ever taken on. Because my lines and story arc didn’t really change, I’ve been able to just start preparing myself to get really deep into someone else’s grief, which has been really scary. But I’ve decided to trust Fernando and rely on my castmates for encouragement and tips from their experiences, and to take a huge leap to really let go of a lot of my own insecurities and try something new. I really just hope I add to the incredible cast I’m part of and do justice to the story and character.
BB: Describe to the best of your ability the plot of Windfall in 140 characters or less. Basically, give us a tweet describing this show.
Shelby: To escape his problems Trent fakes his own death. A lottery win sets his plan in motion, but what happens to the people that he left behind?
Megan: Psychopath fakes death to avoid debts, wins lottery, enlists loyal best friend in deception. Hilarity&heartbreak ensues. #cahoots #karmakap
BB: “At the temple there is a poem called “Loss” carved into the stone. It has three words, but the poet has scratched them out. You cannot read loss, only feel it.” – Arthur Golden, “Memoirs of a Geisha.” Discuss how the loss (or a supposed loss in the case of Trent) of a loved one can impact an individual.
Shelby: I have some very real experience with this, and while the pain never really goes away, you learn to manage it. I lost my father to cancer while I was pursuing my undergraduate degree, and I lost two friends to suicide in the past few years. The grieving process is a curious thing. Everyone experiences it differently, and despite what some may think…there is no timeline on grief. There is a day each year that I am in a funk, and will probably start crying at anything. Brian knows this about me, and knows that it’s connected to losing my father and it’s cyclical each year. For about a year after I lost my dad, I honestly thought that I had forgotten how to feel emotions most of the time. You can feel vacant. Sometimes you feel weak. Sometimes you feel like you’re harboring a secret that nobody can know…or maybe nobody wants to. There’s a Grey’s Anatomy episode where Christina tells George, “There’s a club. The Dead Dads Club. And you can’t be in it until you’re in it. You can try to understand, you can sympathize. But until you feel that loss…” I have this small circle of Brelbians that all lost parents at a young age, and there is something strange about the kind of bond that creates. Losing someone can bond you to the others who have experienced that tragedy. I think that is part of what happens with Owen, Olivia, and the other characters in this play. For most, it’s grieving the death of this pivotal person in their life. For Owen, it’s grieving the loss of his best friend as he knew him. They experience this terrible tragedy, and they become closer than ever as means of coping with the sadness.
Megan: Loss, the way I’ve experienced it, is like a complete state of dullness. I fixate and don’t want to think about anything other than that thing and I empty my mind entirely so it can be all that I think about. I know it’s a true loss if I let it consume me and I get racing thoughts that prevent me from sleeping. I’ll stay up so many nights with “what ifs” and trying to think of ways to fix it, different ways conversations could have gone, I imagine alternative futures, things that will never happen, and it starts the process all over again when I finally realize that what life should have been is not what it will be. The thing about grief is that it ages you, it forces you to confront everything you’re feeling, even when you’d rather not but you’re stuck in it until something or someone helps you dig your way out and find your way back. I’m fortunate to have never lost someone so foundational to who I am as Shelby has so I don’t know what that’s like, but I can only imagine how destroying it would be to go through that kind of soul searching darkness only to find out that person faked it. I’d start to have visions of ending up in jail to be perfectly honest, so if you’re planning on faking your death make sure you cut ties with me first.
BB: Olivia is Trent’s fiance. Talk about the relationship your character has with Trent and how she reacts to the news of his death.
Shelby: Trent and Olivia are comfortable. They’ve been dating for about a decade, but they’re about 30 now, and I think she’s finally looking for some stability. Olivia is definitely the go getter of the two. She’s in grad school to be able to provide a better life for them, and I think she views it as a way to get him to feel comfortable taking that next step. I honestly think Olivia sees Trent being a stay at home dad, while she pursues entrepreneurial endeavors. She has invested a lot of time and a lot of herself in their relationship, so when she loses him…I think it hits her like a ton of bricks. She and Owen both feel like it might be partially their fault. She’s missing a piece of herself. She has some lines that essentially say…she has spent most of her adult life with him. She doesn’t know who she is without him.
BB: Theresa is Trent’s mother. Their relationship and her reaction to his death is going to be very different from Olivia’s.
Megan: Yes, very very different. Theresa and Trent are pretty opposite from each other and at this point in their relationship there is a lot of tension. I think Theresa wants them to have a good relationship, but is unable to understand his lack of ambition and accept that he’s not as driven as she is. But he also takes advantage of her generosity and has manipulated her feelings and when we meet them, she’s not willing to let it continue in spite of how much that’s going to hurt her. Before his death, they have a fight and, while I don’t think she says anything that she would regret later, the fact that he leaves and she never gets to see or speak to him again eats away at her. That he died while they were still angry with each other is unbearable to her. Not only is her son dead, but the last memory she has is him yelling that she’ll never see him again. Needless to say, she’s destroyed by his death and whatever her life would have been is not what it will be as a result of his decisions.
BB: These women do not exist solely to tell Trent’s story or to react to his decisions–what about your characters interest you? What do you want audiences to take away from watching their part in this story?
Shelby: Olivia is a person that I relate to. Brian did this really interesting thing…telling the stories of three different millennials who pursued three different paths as adults. Owen goes to college and then gets to work. He may be in a cubicle now, but he has big goals. Trent job hops, and doesn’t have many aspirations for the future. He loves living in the now and hanging out with his best friends. Olivia goes the academic route. She wants to pursue a graduate degree to secure a more stable future, and I think there is something admirable about that. (That maybe comes across as very self-serving, because I too am doing this right now.) I’m really enjoying digging into this dynamic that she has with each of the boys, and the way that she fits into their lives. Olivia has been with Trent for a decade, but she doesn’t live with him, and she isn’t engaged. It doesn’t actually come up as a big deal breaker for her. She’s focused on her career and studies, and acknowledges that starting a family is part of her future, but she isn’t sitting around begging for a ring. She’s bettering herself and making things happen. I hope that audiences see that in her. That there are relationships that come in all shapes and sizes, and there isn’t one perfect mold for everyone.
Megan: Theresa is a very interesting part of this story. So much of it revolves around this trio of millennials, but Brian’s also made sure the audience sees their parents and how they react to the way people our age and our generation think and live currently. It’s a good dichotomy that I’ve had fun trying to figure out. Theresa herself is strong and career driven and cares about her family in her own way, which I appreciate. Not all Mom’s are going to be stereotypical cookie-baking-soccer Mom’s. In general, Brian did a good job of providing two Mother characters neither of which are what we would initially think of when we hear the word “Mom.” Women are so varied and have so many opportunities now, I appreciate that Theresa is a representative of the kind of Mom who works and prioritizes her family, but she’s also determined to succeed and stern, direct, interested in prioritizing her health and wellness and all these wonderful characteristics that you don’t normally associate with Moms unless yours was like that growing up. She’s flawed, to be sure, but her life is about more than her children, and I want audiences to appreciate her as she is. She may not be a traditional Mother, but what works for one woman and her family doesn’t work for everyone but her feelings and the way she’s impacted by her son’s actions are tragic and ones that parents in general, not just Mothers, should be able to empathize with.