Supporting theatrical work written, directed and/or designed by women.
Christine Verleny is currently tearing up the boards in Oberon Theatre Ensemble’s production of Keep on Truckin’ — It’s War, an existential comedy written by Walter Brandes. The production is part of the Midtown International Theatre Festival where Oberon has scored with two previous productions, winning three festival awards and nominated for 13 others.
Verleny plays an assertive operative in the midst of an unknown conflict in the show. A very meaty role. She has starred previously in Oberon’s American Rapture, Crazy for the Dog (Rachel Reiner Productions) and The Pearl Theatre’s Toys in the Attic. She spoke with Works by Women about being a part of the Midtown International Theatre Festival, what roles she’s dying to play and what’s up next for her.
Works By Women: You’re starring in the new comedy Keep On Truckin’ — It’s War. What’s it like being the only woman in the cast?
Christine Verleny: The role was written for me by my husband (playwright/actor Walter Brandes), and he gave my character the most testosterone in the play (go figure!). Very powerful, I love it.
WBW: What do you love about the comedy?
CV:It is an intelligent, political, dark, absurdist comedy. Everyone will walk away with a different understanding of what they have seen. Conversations will ensue. Everyone will laugh at different things, depending on their life experiences, but everyone will laugh. People will be driven to discuss what they have seen and work to understand it fully. It will anger some, enlighten others, tickle many and just plain make folks think. That is my kind of theater.
WBW: The piece is part of the Midtown International Theatre Festival. What is the festival experience like?
CV: Crazy. Kamikaze theater. We had only one day in the space to tech the show. We managed to run half the show with lights and sound before we opened. I am not complaining. I think on opening night, the lack of being fully rehearsed adds an exciting, dangerous element and new things are discovered.
WBW: What roles are you dying to play?
CV: I do a lot of original work and love developing new characters, but would love to sink my teeth into some iconic roles like Josie in Moon for the Misbegotten or Paulina in The Winter’s Tale. A crack at any of the sisters in August Osage County would also be fun.
WBW: What’s next for you?
CV: A trip to France. Then who knows. Something always comes up. Maybe Walter will write another role for me.
WBW: What are the challenges facing women in American theater?
CV: Finding multi-dimensional roles. They are out there, but few and far between.
WBW: What gives you hope for women in American theater?
CV:The writers/producers/directors I am surrounded by. I am a member of the WorkShop Theater Company and the Oberon Theatre Ensemble. Both companies work to find plays that will utilize all of their members, regardless of sex or age. If I find a project I like, I can work to get it on stage and in front of an audience. I am sure there are other companies out there who are doing the same for their members and that is exciting.
Keep on Truckin’ — It’s War opened Monday, July 16, and performances continue through August 2nd at the Dorothy Strelsin Theatre at the Abingdon Theatre Complex (312 West 36th Street, between 8th & 9th Ave.). For tickets visit: OvationTix.