Tuesday, April 5, 2022

K Harris

Sixty-Six Theater Co. (Producing Director Trina Chan) announced the first show of its 2022 Mainstage Season—The Effect, written by Lucy Prebble. Kymberly Harris (below) will direct. 

The Effect had its world premiere at the National Theatre in London in 2012 and was the winner of the UK Critics’ Circle Award. The play had its North American premiere at the Barrow Street Theatre in New York in 2016. Winner of the UK Critics’ Circle Award for Best New Play, this funny, provocative and deeply moving play offers a powerful theatrical exploration of the human brain through the heart. Questions of sanity, neurology and the limits of medicine are explored alongside ideas of fate, love and chemistry. 

Kymberly Harris is a director, writer, filmmaker, actor and acting coach. Her work tends to be deeply experiential and process-driven. She teaches acting at The Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute in West Hollywood and to selective private clients who are working in TV and Film. In her early acting career, she played Maggie in a showcase at her MFA Program directed by Arthur Penn. Now as a director, writer, and filmmaker, she bridges the theatre and film worlds. Her play "Faith" is the only drama published in the new anthology, "Proofread or Die!," featuring works by colleagues and friends of the late David Foster Wallace. She has directed several new and contemporary plays at her resident companies in LA and in the Midwest. She recently wrote and directed an award-winning short, ROSE'S TURN, and her second film, FAITH, won Best Short at the 2018 New York International Film Festival. Her feature I HEARD SARAH received the Robert Rodriguez Best Indie Auteur of the Year Award, and will be distributed by Good Deeds Entertainment. Her upcoming feature is THE BOY IN THE PINK FLIP FLOPS.
Tell our readers about the theme of The Effect.

KH:The play is set in a drug trial for antidepressants. Each character has their own conscious reason for choosing to participate or facilitate this trial, and their unconscious reasons for needing to deal with depression and relationships reveal themselves. 

What do you find special about the play?

KH: I can't think of a more timely play for this moment. We are all reeling from feelings of isolation after the pandemic, and we've all had moments, maybe for the first time, to truly self examine our lives, values, and relationships. The world is changing so much, we all have dealt with new feelings of hopelessness. From that state, it is more challenging to let others know you, or to let go of relationships that no longer serve you. What is beautiful about the play is these characters are also forced into introspection by circumstances beyond their control. And they are forced to decide if they will choose to love or self love, or continue to live in isolation. And there is a lot of humor and sexiness inherent in their process.

As director, what are your greatest challenges?

KH: My desire is to live solely in the world of a story when I'm directing. But life doesn't always allow that, so needing to split my focus is challenging for me. Also, with this play, you have two worlds, one that is very monitored and tech savvy, and the world within the clinic that is raw and emotional. So there's a way I'm directing two styles at once and finding where they connect. That part is a thrilling challenge, and I admire Prebble's writing more each day, as I discover this living emotional animal alive and breathing within this very sterile environment.

Talk about your cast and how they match their characters.
KH: I knew I wouldn't be able to deliver this play unless I found just the right actors. Leah Verill as Dr. Lorna has the reserve and intelligence of a scientist and the emotional depth of a passionate woman with a troubled past. John Ruby as Dr. Toby is just the right combination of charm and mystery needed for us to believe in his motives, success, and to understand Lorna's emotional and psychological entanglement with him. Jakki Jandrell has a great understanding of the drive and fears of Connie as well as her need to be honest and grow. 

Paul Rush is a complex and layered actor with the ability to transform and live his role, which is what we needed for Tristan because his range throughout the play is so great. And they're all wonderful, wickedly smart human beings with abundant talent.
How does the play fit into 66's mission statement?

KH:This is a significant story and I think anyone willing to participate in such a raw and current exploration is an ambitious storyteller. My experience of 66 is that it is a supportive incubator for risk taking and exploration, with a passion for excellent, contemporary, character driven writing. 

What do you hope the audience will take away?

KH: The audience becomes part of the experiment in this play, because as observers we are peeking in at what is meant to be a private process. As "participants", we all become complicit in the decision to take medication for depression or not, and to contemplate how our minds inhibit or encourage our ability to love. Is it irresponsible to test these patients in this way? Who profits from the sale of prescription drugs, and how does that affect the decision making? How does the doctor's subjective experience affect the trial? Is love a decision or an inevitable fate? And finally, is it worth it to show your soul to another, even though you are damaged and may get damaged again? If we achieve the level of thought and empathy around these questions that the story has helped us experience, I think it will be an impactful night of theatre. 

Kymberly Harris
Director @firsthand.films
@staytunedla: an interactive blog for actors

The Effect Opening: Friday April 29th at 8pm Performances: April 29th - May 21st, 2022 Fri, Sat & Mon 8pm, Sun 4pm inside The Strasberg Institute 7936 Santa Monica Blvd

West Hollywood, CA 90046

Tel: 213-926-3150

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