Hayley Finn is the Associate Artistic Director at the Playwrights’ Center. She has directed several shows at MJTC, most recently 2014's Ivey-award winning play Rose, and joins us this spring as director of Bad Jews.
As Associate Artistic Director at the Playwright’s Center, do you see themes emerging in the new work you encounter these days?
Playwrights write on a variety of topic and in myriad styles. Sometimes common themes emerge and they usually reflect the zeitgeist of the culture. I don't know of other plays that are tackling the themes in Bad Jews and in the way in which Joshua Harmon is doing here so I think this play is unique.
At the read-through of Bad Jews, you said, “There’s a lot of antagonism [between characters] but there’s also a sense that this is a family that can do this.” Can you say more about that?
I think I was talking about the culture of this particular family. You get the sense from the text that this family is comfortable arguing. Arguing (in the classic sense of setting up arguments to prove a point) is something Liam and Daphna excel at. Their brains work quickly and they have facility with language and using language to prove their points. I also think that the culture of this family is that they say what they're thinking. They don't hold back.
I also liked when you said, “The Holocaust is looming in this play.” The idea of “looming” really struck me: looming confrontations, looming adulthood. Do other kinds of "looming" tensions stand out to you?
What's also looming in the play is the fate of Jewish culture and religion. All of the characters address this in the play, from very different perspectives. Some of the greatest moments of tension in the play arise from Daphna and Liam's opposite views on this topic.
Daphna and Liam have a lot to get off their chests! As a director, how do you navigate the actors through their monologues?
It is a fun challenge to navigate the long monologues in the play. I work with the actors to tackle them from a couple of angles. The first is understanding what's being said, why it's being said and the logic between all the twists and turns that the characters are saying. The second is a very technical approach. It involves understanding rhythm. Essentially we score the text.