I open with a quote from Oscar Wilde:

I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.

We humans are a complex bunch. Just as our skin color, facial features, and freckle fractal vary from person to person, so do our emotional make-ups. As an actor, I find the job of discovering and then attempting to relate these complex emotions to be very therapeutic. Some directors/teachers/acting coaches will tell you (when beginning to discover a character) to start with traits, features, or points of view of that character which you can relate to, and then build upon that. This connection serves, for me, as a means of self-discovery. Theatre has helped to teach me (and to understand more deeply) who I am as a human being. As a director, I enjoy being that initial outside eye to the action and a force for assisting my actors to present characters that are complete enough psychologically as to be believed as a fellow human being. Then you just hope that your audience relates to the characters enough, that they see something of themselves onstage and are drawn in; mind and spirit.

What makes theatre difficult this day and age is how much of who we are, or rather who we often pretend to be, is mandated by someone else. By corporations, by commercials, by celebrities…we are directed to conform to certain guidelines and straying from the norm can set you off as an outcast. It sounds cliché, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been accosted for not liking American Idol or not watching this show, or not feeling this way or that way. Really brutal verbal beatings.

So we deny ourselves. We repress. And repress. We have a problem accepting our own emotional make-ups. We force the real issues deeper and deeper into our subconscious until they reemerge as quirks, pains, phobias, compulsions, or even erectile dysfunction. Then we take medications to correct these self-inflicted wounds when really we should be confronting them with a Sherlock Holmes-like method of investigation:

“Who am I?”

“Why am I who I am?”

“Does any of this need to change?”

In Winky the two main characters, Neil and Winky, are a brother and sister duo who each suffers from this immense repression.  Neil can be credited with the desire and motivation to better understand himself and improve upon his faults, but Winky cannot. A semi-content homebody, a great deal of Winky’s energy is spent fighting off her fantasies, which attempt to provide her a glimpse into her own psyche – but she refuses. It’s these conflicting ideals, contentment versus resentment, and how they are presented in this play that struck an instant chord with me. I feel these two very basic, and opposing, human emotions provide a strong foundation for these very complex, labyrinth-ian characters to be built upon and allow an audience to find a part of themselves in one of these characters.

The theatre is the only place you can go for these types of emotional connections. A picture on a screen will never seem as real to you as when you catch the spittle off an actor’s lip or you feel them make direct eye contact with you, I don’t care how 3D your glasses are. This is what I love about theatre: the immediacy and intimacy of emotional exchange.  I hope that, withWinky, we are able to make those connections and tell you a story.

Enjoy the show!

Chris Wesselman, Director


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