Tom Stoppard’s “Heroes” gets a Philly premiere
At 26, M. Craig Getting is at the other end of the age spectrum from the characters he’s directing in “Heroes.” Tom Stoppard’s adaptation of Gérald Sibleyras’ play “Le Vent Des Peupliers,” which will close Lantern Theater Company’s season, is the comic tale of three World War I veterans plotting to escape from their retirement home. But Getting felt that he could relate to these characters on a different level.
“These men who served in World War I were younger than I am now when they served,” Getting says, “and it changed their lives forever. They never lost sight of who they were at that time, so my way into the play has been to bring my age to the table as something that these men would love to tap into. I’ve also had the luxury of working with some really talented older actors, so I knew right away that my job was not to bring my own experience to the table as much as help them mine their experiences.”
A King of Prussia native, Getting studied theater at Kenyon College in Ohio before returning to the region, where he’s worked at the Lantern in several capacities, from sound to set construction. His first directing opportunity was the Lantern’s 2011 production of Martin McDonough’s “A Skull in Connemara.”
He’ll direct Peter DeLaurier, Mal Whyte and Dan Kern in the wistful story, as the three aging vets aim to reach a stand of poplar trees they can glimpse from the home’s neglected terrace. “They’re in the twilight of their lives and trying to escape,” Getting says. “Trying to escape the mundane existence of a veteran’s home, and also trying to escape the unstoppable march of time.”
Despite that poignant story, Getting is quick to point out that Sibleyras’ writing and Stoppard’s wry adaptation make it far less heavy than one might expect. “If you think of it as a play about World War I veterans in an old folks’ home, you start to lose sight of the fact that it’s actually a really witty play. A lot of the comedy comes from the discrepancy between how old the men actually are and how young they would like to be.”
Extended through June 16
St. Stephens Theater
10th and Ludlow Sts.