Opening night for any actor can be nerve-wracking but opening a new production the week of one of the biggest presidential shakeups of all time? That could be terrifying.
However, Emma Kaye isn’t worried. The star of the Huntington Theatre Company’s new comedic production of director Maria Aitken’s “Bedroom Farce,” which opens today, is feeling optimistic and hopeful despite the unusual circumstances.
“It’s a strange thing,” the Essex, England-bred actress says thoughtfully. “We ended rehearsal early because no one could focus. We hugged and were fearful and hopeful together. But theater was designed to bring about change. If there’s a feeling of hopelessness in our lives, to effect change, whether it’s to make people think or cry or laugh or emote, it makes you feel a little more useful. If we can use our art as a distraction for people during their process, it makes you feel like you’re giving something back. We’re not brain scientists or curing cancer, but we can guarantee a laugh.”
“Bedroom Farce,” written by British playwright Alan Ayckbourn in the ’70s, centers on four couples over the course of one tumultuous night. The couples, each in a different phase of marriage (bliss to… well, blah) find themselves intertwined as each pair attempts to unwind from a night of dysfunction and confusion. While the entire production takes place in three separate bedrooms, the focus of the evening is not quite what you’d think — as in, there’s no sex involved.
“We explore the notion of sex in the bedroom, without ever bringing the sex into it,” explains Kaye, who plays Kate, a newlywed and one half of the youngest couple on stage. “It’s about exploring everything else that happens in the bedroom — other than sex.”
Kaye, who moved to America 10 years prior, found her way back into theater through unusual circumstances. Finding it difficult to reestablish herself as an actress following a move and a career break, Kaye began work as a reader for productions during the audition process. When actors would come in to audition for a show, Kaye would read back the other characters’ lines while the casting director and director made their decisions. Sounds like an easy way to get noticed? Well, says Kaye, it’s not so common.
“You hope somewhere along the process they take a look at you and are like, ‘Oh, she’s actually quite good,’ but really, it’s a lot of hoping someone will notice you,” admits Kaye. However, her break came when a friend recommended she be the reader for Aitken’s Huntington production. And says Kaye, following rounds of auditions, the director turned to her and said, “Right, we’ve auditioned everyone, but we think we’ll give you the lead.”
“It was an ‘Oh my God, it finally happened!’ moment,” remembers Kaye. “They looked apart from that huge gap in my resume and gave me a chance. So much of this career is about luck and being in the right place at the right time, but you still need to work to make it happen. And finally, it just all lined up for me. It’s the American dream.”
If you go
Through Dec. 11
Avenue of the Arts/BU Theatre
264 Huntington Ave.
Starting at $25, huntingtontheatre.org