'A game of tennis': Actors Fran Dorn and Marc Pouhé prepare to perform together for the first time
“I’ve been waiting for this moment for 20 years,” Marc Pouhé says the upcoming Austin Shakespeare live reading of The Glass Menagerie, in which he’ll be performing with fellow local acting legend Fran Dorn for the first time.
“You know, Marc was a student of mine very briefly, whenever that was,” Dorn says with a laugh, “I barely know what day it is, so I can’t remember anything that’s happened in the past. So it’s great to be able to work with him, lo and behold, all these years later.”
In the upcoming production, they’ll be playing mother and son, taking on the roles of Amanda and Tom Wingfield in Tennessee Williams’ classic memory play. It’s a new role for Marc – he previously played the Jim, the gentleman caller, in an earlier Austin Shakespeare production – but for Dorn, it’s a chance to revisit the character. “I actually did The Glass Menagerie, I think it was about fifteen years ago… in Chautauqua. I remember, vaguely, it being a nice production. But I’m eager to revisit it with Marc and with Khali [Sykes, who plays Amanda’s daughter Laura]. It will be really fun to revisit this role. I’m fourteen [or] fifteen years older than I was the last time. My perspective about thwarted expectations in your life is quite different now, and I think I’m much more sympathetic toward Amanda than I was then, so I’m interested to see how that plays out with the other actors on stage, especially Marc.”
“I’m looking forward to a game of tennis,” Pouhé says. “The scenes between Tom and his mother Amanda are some of the best in American playwriting. So I’m really excited to play tennis onstage with Fran.”
This will be a staged reading, not a full production, which means a much shorter time commitment for the actors, but not necessarily a different approach to their performances. “You think about just as much, you just don’t have the time to invest that you would ordinarily,” Dorn says.
“For me, not having to learn 90 pages of dialogue is great,” Pouhé says with a laugh. “It is a reading, but I will say that [director] Ann [Ciccolella’s] readings tend to be fully invested, and we’re still connecting with each other and we’re… not face buried in the script.”
“I think actors adapt to whatever time span they have,” Dorn adds. “We have a week, several days, of rehearsal, and so we will explore that as far as we can in that amount of time.”
It’s surprising that it’s taken this long for Dorn and Pouhé to perform on stage together, but both actors say they hope to team up again. “I’d love to,” Pouhé says. “Say the word and I’ll be there. I’ll put it out there into the ether: I’d love to see Fran as King Lear and me as anybody in the play with her.”
Dorn seems game, with perhaps a slight reservation about memorizing so much dialogue (Lear isn’t Shakespeare’s most talkative role, but it is in the top twenty). “Ann and I have been talking about that for a long time,” she says while laughing. “That’s a lot of lines!”