Exclusive video interview with David Morse (“How I learned to drive”)
“I can feel who I am now, bring things that weren’t there before,” ‘How I Learned to Drive’ star reveals David Morse. The actor gets back into the shoes of Uncle Peck in the Broadway production of Paula Vogel‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama 25 years after originating the Off-Broadway role at the Vineyard Theater in 1997. He is joined by other members of the original cast Marie-Louise Parker and Johanna day in this revival of the Manhattan Theater Club, and the actors have had plenty of time to reflect on how their 25 years of life experiences have “enriched” this production. Watch the exclusive video interview above.
Morse says the question “why now?” was an important element that was floating in the air when starting work on this production. Vogel and Parker had tried to bring the play to Broadway for many years, but scheduling and theater availability became perpetual obstacles. So when the stars finally aligned, Morse began to wonder “are we just doing this to do this?” Is it important to do this and is it important for the world to have this?
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Indeed, the world has changed since Vogel’s script first shook audiences. What at first appears to be a sweet tale of an uncle and niece’s connection quickly turns into a powerful examination of sexual abuse. Morse needed to know how the script would fit into a world where people have become more emboldened to discuss abuses of sex and power. So the crew came together for a two-day period of rehearsal and discussion about their lives since the original production, and why this script still spoke to them. “These two days have been essential, revealing, personal and very moving,” says Morse. “And it brought us together in a deeper way than we had before.”
“I was a little scared going into it,” admits the actor. Experiencing the play more than two decades ago had such a lasting impact that he feared he couldn’t deviate from the way his younger self played it. “I really didn’t want to be locked up,” he explains, “we’re new people, in a new world.” But this original experience is part of what makes this reunion so special. The lines had to be relearned, and their deliveries were adjusted. Still, Morse suggests that the play remained so “vivid” in the actors’ minds that “there was this kind of pattern built into us, emotionally”.
Morse also appreciates the simplicity of the staging of this play. The production is more concerned with dialogue and the inner lives of the characters, rather than massive pieces. The actor thinks it creates an environment that “is kind of an extension of the rehearsal process.” It’s a chance for the public to get a glimpse of a space that almost looks like a rehearsal studio and the freedoms this space engenders. “This world that you’ve created in your mind…it’s your imagination,” the actor notes of the creative process. Seeing audiences engage in an imaginary world is part of what makes them excited to immerse themselves in this story again. “It’s the magic of theatre,” exclaims Morse.
Morse won the Lucille Lortel, Obie and Drama Desk Awards for her performance in the Off-Broadway series of “How I Learned to Drive”. He earned Emmy nominations for “John Adams” and “House,” and a Tony nomination for the recent revival of “The Iceman Cometh.”
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