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Q&A with ‘Big Love’ Seniors

Erin McGinn | Tuesday, November 7, 2006

“Big Love,” the latest mainstage production presented by the film, television and theater (FTT) department, features several Notre Dame seniors within its large cast. Those actors – Conor Woods, Drew McElligott, Mike Anderson and Sarah Loveland – see the production’s message, director and unique staging as essential aspects of this latest production.

Erin McGinn: Why did you decide to get involved with this production of “Big Love?”

Conor Woods: Well, “Big Love” is a really challenging script in terms of it [having] a lot of movement. It’s got a lot of monologues and it’s not realistic in the sense of a Tennessee Williams play. It has a lot of abstract moments, and it’s really an actor’s dream. Almost every character has a moment where they tell their philosophy of life and what they think life and love [are] all about. And I really love the message of the play, which is that love trumps all. So, to be in that [production] is really a treat.

Drew McElligott: I really liked the script, and I really liked a lot of the characters in it. It’s a really character-driven show, [with] a lot of different people in it. That’s something that really attracted me to it. We have a really talented director, Siiri Scott. She was actually a huge draw, not only for me, but also for the majority of the other people in the cast. It was just a great opportunity to work with her in a more professional stance.

Mike Anderson: Well, I knew people that were auditioning, and I had Siiri Scott as a director in many of my classes. I’ve had experience with her before, and I wanted to be directed by her, which is one of the main reasons why I auditioned.

Sarah Loveland: It’s always fun to do the departmental shows, and because it is so physical – that’s why I was drawn to the play initially. And Siiri is a wonderful director.

McGinn: Can you describe your character?

Woods: Yeah, I play an openly gay character [Giuliano], which is always fun. And the character just really helps the three sisters – there are 50 sisters, but only three in the play – and just teaches them to be who they are, and in that sense it is a very socially-conscious play. It has a lot of messages. He’s very flamboyant and he is just like, “that’s the way I am, and that’s the way it’s going to be.” I really thought that was such a great message, and to get to play someone who is that self-confident is really such a treat.

McElligott: I am the egotistical jackass of the play [Constantine], with a soft side, of course. I am kind of the “manly man” – I represent everything macho, basically. About four lines into the show, everyone hates me, and then it’s kind of my fight through the rest of the show to kind of turn [the audience] around on me, and convince them that I actually have a point – that the way I am serves a purpose, which is kind of a big challenge.

Anderson: My character is Oed, he’s one of the brothers, cousins of the three girls, that they go to find them to marry them. Oed is kind of the sidekick of the brothers – he doesn’t say much. He’s quiet and he doesn’t say anything unless it’s important. He’s more of the goofball out of the three brothers.

Loveland: I am playing Lydia, [who] is one of the three sisters. She’s sort of the wild sister who goes out all night, and is kind of crazy, but then she’s sort of eventually tamed by love. Well, not necessarily tamed, but she’s the one that actually acknowledges love and goes in that direction.

McGinn: What was it like working on this production?

Woods: It certainly has been a very challenging production to work on. I think it was a lot harder than we thought it was going to be, but I feel like we’re ready for audiences to just absorb the messages that are in it. And I think that we’re really excited about that, and for them to see it. And it’s really funny too. It has a lot of really funny moments, but a lot of really thoughtful moments as well.

McElligott: This production actually has been very different from a lot of shows. In addition to FTT shows, I’ve done loads upon loads of student shows – I’ve done about 15 plays during my time at Notre Dame – and when you do an FTT show, you get to do a lot more technically-speaking. This will be the first time I get to rappel from the rafters, and I learned how to flip myself without hurting myself for this show, which was fun to learn.

Anderson: It’s the most physical play that I’ve ever been in. Just some of the stuff that we do – it’s draining. Even though it’s a short play, I’ve had to do a lot of things that I’ve never done before. This one, it jumps around a lot. It’s kind of weird [because] it goes from this reality to this stylized dream stage and back and forth a lot. I think that was different than most of the plays I’ve done usually, which were more straightforward.

And some of the stuff we’re doing is a lot different, like rappelling down from the catwalks, which is pretty cool. A lot of music is involved in this play too, and usually there was not a ton of music in the shows that I’ve done in the past.

Loveland: Well, I was really excited to get started doing it because it’s so physical. The whole time it’s just been a bunch of surprises, and everything’s been really exciting.