From the Actress–New Plays with Maureen Torsney-Weir

By Maureen Torsney-Weir
So what’s it like to live in one of Jacqueline Goldfinger’s fabulous, complex, characters? In short – it’s like getting the best Christmas/birthday/pick your holiday present ever!!! I’ve been blessed to play Midge in Skin & Bone, Jackie’s second play in her southern Gothic trilogy that premiered at Azuka Theatre just 2 weeks ago!
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Drucie McDaniels (left) and Maureen Torsney-Weir in Skin and Bone
I work a lot on new plays. I love new plays and I’ve learned a lot about acting by working in new plays. When my children were young,  I couldn’t do more than one play a year but I could do play readings. I signed up with a bunch (well, four) of playwright groups in New York and Connecticut (where I lived at the time) to agree to perform in their reading series. What an education!!! The plays would come in the mail and I’d have a week (or less) to work on the character that I was playing for the reading. I learned to see what the playwright intended, and not to want to rewrite their play. I learned about structure, language, character development, and most of all, how the story was being told to the audience. Jackie is a master of all of the above. I especially love her use of language. There are so many wonderful interior rhythms. It’s a joy to work on this play.
There are lots of clues to Midge’s character and some are more obvious (like her family traditions) but some are delicious little treats hidden within the lines. For example – several times Midge mentions  phrases like: “you can have it next year” or “I’m gonna die here…” which lend an urgency to her wanting to keep her home and a desperation to her fights with Ronnie. The play is full of treats like that, but I don’t want to give it all away. You’ll have to come and see us!

Twins & Things: A Quick Interview with Skin & Bone Playwright Jacqueline Goldfinger

Azuka is thrilled to be presenting Skin & Bone, the second installment in Jacqueline Goldfinger’s Southern Gothic Trilogy. As Azuka’s first-ever playwright-in-residence, Jackie developed Skin & Bone over two years with the company following Azuka’s premiere of the terrible girls, the first in the Southern Gothic Trilogy. Her play Slip/Shot received the Brown Martin Award and a Barrymore for Best New Play. As our playwright-in-residence, Jackie was obligated to answer some odd questions for us. Thanks Jackie!

Azuka: You grew up in Florida but now live in Philadelphia. Obviously these two places are very different, but what have you noticed that they have in common?

JG: Philadelphia actually has a very Southern vibe. It’s a cool city. It loves soul music and soul food. It’s not as crazy busy as NYC or other major northern cities, and not as uptight as New England. It feels like a Southern city in a northern geography.

Azuka:  Did your own relationship to your sisters influence your writing of Midge and Madge?

JG: I have two younger sisters. Midge and Madge aren’t based on my sisters but their relationship, the interdependence of sisters in an isolated place, definitely is. Not only were we geographically isolated, but our family was very politically and socially liberal in a very conservative part of the State, so there was this constant feeling of needing to have one another’s back.

Azuka: In earlier drafts, Midge and Madge were not written as twins. How did having your twins influence their characters? 

JG: During the development process I realized that the sisters needed a very special bond to keep the secret that they do – and with twins they are not only exceptionally close but they can emotionally, physically and spiritually mirror each other in interesting ways.

Azuka: Without giving anything away, the characters in this play are a bit extreme, but is there a certain character onstage that you relate to? Or pieces of yourself you see reflected in the characters?

JG: I wish I had Midge’s sass. I don’t. But it would be cool. I have definitely wanted to tell folks off and not done it where Midge has no problem saying whatever is on her mind. So that makes her an extremely fun character to write. Mostly, I write characters, not that I want to be, but that I understand. I don’t write hip-uptown-Abercrombie-and-Fitch characters who live in small boxes. I write characters who dare to live life, even when they don’t have much to live for, and you can see the legacy of their vast potholed journeys in how they move through the world.

Azuka: We’re so proud to have you as a playwright-in-residence here! What’s coming up for you?

JG: There’s going to be a reading of my new play for families, “Enter Bogart,” a 45-minute broad comedy, at White Pines Place on March 23 (http://www.whitepinesproductions.org/) and a reading of my brand new comedy for adults, “Trish Tinkler Gets Saved,” on April 7 at Theatre Exile (http://www.theatreexile.org).