Judith Light Brings Audible Theater to Light with 'All The Ways to Say I Love You'
A true talent talks about the importance of hearing great stage performances — even if you're nowhere near Broadway.By Preston CopleyFeb 27, 2018 11:43 AM
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A "tour-de-force performance". It's a phrase often bandied about in the world of theater. But what does it really mean? In the case of All The Ways to Say I Love You, it means a revered actress pushed to the height of her talents through a creative partnership with a masterful director, via a formidable piece of modern drama. It's Judith Light -- who has come to be one of Broadway's most respected actors after making a name for herself on the small screen (Transparent, Who's The Boss, Ugly Betty, One Life to Live) -- bringing the full heft of her gifts to a thrilling new play worthy of her time and effort.
Audible Theater editor Preston Copley sat down with Judith Light to discuss what it means to give a solo performance in a full-length play -- on stage and in the audio recording booth. With the stakes of the show entirely on her shoulders, and hers alone, it's not a feat just any actor could pull off.
Note: Text has been edited and may not match audio exactly.
Preston Copley: Judith, thank you for sitting down with me, and welcome to Audible.
Judith Light: Thank you. I'm very happy to be here.
PC: You originally performed this role in its world premiere production in New York City more than a year ago. How has it been revisiting the piece in preparation for your performance at Audible?
JL: Really surprisingly different, because I realized that we're doing it so that people will just be hearing it. So, when I went back to work with [director] Leigh Silverman, who had directed it originally, and who is also directing it for Audible, coming back to it is very exciting. Coming back to it fresh, and new, and finding new things in it.
PC: So, you found some revelations in the character?
JL: Well, I've had a very complicated year. My longtime manager of 37 years passed away, and there's something very different in me because of the life circumstances, and how I have been relating to them, that feels very different to me. And so I'm bringing more of that into this [audio] performance. People are going to hear what, in some ways, we did before [on stage], but also things that are fresh and new.
PC: That's so interesting, and I'm sorry to hear about the passing of your manager.
JL: Thank you, thank you.
PC: Have there been technical aspects that you've been working on with the great theater director, Leigh Silverman?
JL: Interestingly enough, we weren't able to get to the studio to rehearse, so Leigh and I rehearsed over the phone, which was incredibly helpful because she could hear things in the way that I was doing them, and give me notes on those things, so that it made it more applicable for the audio performance.
PC: That is so interesting. And I'm sure it'llbe to the great benefit of our audience.
JL: When we came back to it, and this is over a year later, the emotional track that [Silverman] helped me lay down stayed in my system in a way that actually was surprising to both of us. It's like being on the train. When the track is there and laid, it stays there and it stays in the emotional body, which I think is very interesting for people to know about as they're listening to us today.
PC: You were among the first to perform a piece of theater for the Audible Originals banner. What does it mean to you to record this performance forour members and why do you hope people will listen to the play?
JL: I'm very excited about recording this for Audible. One of the things that happens when you have a performance is that it is limited. And we know that there are a lot of people everywhere that cannot get to see this performance. I mean, there are places like the wonderful Lincoln Center that will film [performances] for posterity, but that means you have to be in New York, go to the Lincoln Center Library, and sit down, and stay there, and watch a performance. Audible is making this performance accessible across all kinds of places, and you allow this experience be given to so many more people than would ordinarily happen.
I know that from hearing from people as I run into them in the airports, they say, "Oh, I wish I could've seen you do that." Or, "Oh, the run is going to be over. I won't get to see that." Even people who are in New York have said, "Oh, damn. I missed it." This makes it accessible in a way that absolutely thrills me, which is why I'm so excited about doing it.
I love the work that I do, and to be able to bring that to so many people is not only exciting for us artistically, but also, something that I find really important because it educates, and it brings the art of something to more people so they have that experience. I think it's the arts that lift our culture.
PC: Well, Judith, we are of the same mind and, and certainly we at Audible are over the moon to have your gargantuan talents.
JL: My gargantuan talents!
JL: I'm going to put that on a T-shirt.
PC: Audible theater production is a relatively new endeavor for us. As a theater fan yourself, and one with impeccable taste, what would you be excited to hear us produce as we endeavor tobring these plays to millions?
JL: I would love to have you capture performances that have gotten attention. And I know that you did one with Billy Crudup that Leigh Silverman also directed --Harry Clarke. I saw that in the theater, and it took my breath away. I cannot wait to hear it on Audible.
This is about educating people. This is about connecting people to the excitement of great writers and really educating people in a way that they may not have been educated before. This can go into the schools. You can have a classroom where you have all these young people come in and listen to a play and then discuss it. And then if those of us who are available can go and talk to these young people. You got to give them an experience that they never would've had in any other way. So, that's what thrills me about what you're doing.
Experience Audible Theater with 'All The Ways to Say I Love You'
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