Thursday, October 18, 2012

A few questions with "Apples & Oranges" playwright Alfred Uhry

Posted By on Thu, Oct 18, 2012 at 1:29 PM

Playwright Alfred Uhry and actors Tony Carlin and Patricia Richardson rehearse the world premiere play Apples & Oranges at the Alliance Theatre, now on stage through October 28.
  • Courtesy Alliance Theatre
  • Playwright Alfred Uhry and actors Tony Carlin and Patricia Richardson rehearse the world premiere play "Apples & Oranges" at the Alliance Theatre, now on stage through October 28.
In Apples & Oranges, now on stage at the Alliance Theatre through October 28, Oscar-, Tony- and Pulitzer-Prize winning playwright Alfred Uhry adapts Vanity Fair journalist Marie Brenner's memoir about her brother's struggle with cancer into an intense two-character drama. We caught up with the Driving Miss Daisy playwright and Atlanta native to ask a few questions about the new work.

What interested you about the project of adapting Marie Brenner's book for the stage?
It's a good book. I was called by Lynne Meadow who's artistic director of the Manhattan Theatre Club in New York, and she asked would I be interested in adapting this book. The book had just come out, and I'd read a review of it in the paper right around the time she called. I knew Marie's work—I didn't know her—but I knew her stuff, and she's good. So I read the book. It's about a dysfunctional relationship between a brother and a sister. The set-up was one brother and one sister and no other siblings. That happens to be my own set-up with my sister and me. While we're not dysfunctional, it seemed interesting to me because I'd never seen a piece of theater about the relationship between a brother and a sister. If they're same-sex siblings, there are easier ways to communicate, but when there are just two of you and you're of different sexes, you're programmed from childhood to go different ways, but you bear the same memories, the same scars, the same everything. It seemed interesting to me to write about that, so I said sure.

GREAT CROP: Patricia Richardson and Tony Carlin in Apples & Oranges
What sort of discoveries did you make about the material as you were adapting it?
Anytime you work on a theater piece, once you get into a rehearsal (and I always go to all rehearsals), you get the actor's voices and you think "Oh, I could sharpen this, cut that." That's been happening a lot.

What interests you about premiering the production in Atlanta?
Well, it's great for me. I am an Atlanta boy. This particular theater has been very good luck for me. Driving Miss Daisy ran here for years, and I don't think anything else has run here for remotely that long. My play Last Night of Ballyhoo premiered here in this theater during the 1996 Olympics and it went on to big success in New York. It's a little play and the Hertz is a small theater so it's a good combo.

When you come back to Atlanta, do you revisit some favorite spots and old haunts?
I come back to Atlanta every year or so. My sister's here, my family's here, a lot of old friends are here. But this time it's strange because I'm working. I'm not really able to see everybody very much. I had an odd experience the other day when an old friend of mine arranged for 30 or 40 people from high school to come to a matinee. So I was seeing people I hadn't seen in 40 years.

"Apples & Oranges" runs at the Hertz Stage of the Alliance Theatre through October 28. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the Alliance.

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