The new play, set in a creative writing classroom, delves into the work-in-progress novel by the title character. Whether the work is fact or fiction and whether it involves the escapades of a young George W. Bush is up to the audience (or class) to decide. The star of stage (Hurlyburly) and screen (the "Alien" saga) spoke with Playbill On-Line about her latest work — again in the hands of husband, director Jim Simpson — which brings her back to her some of her favorite things: new work, Off-Broadway and comedy.
Playbill On-Line: Have you been stealing scripts off of your husband's desk?
Sigourney Weaver: No, I think [A.R.] "Pete" Gurney sent this to Jim hoping that I would be interested, which of course, is a huge honor for me because I've always wanted to be in one of his plays. He wrote it for The Flea [where Simpson is artistic director] and he did think of me as he wrote Mrs. Farnsworth, but I think she's a completely independent creation. I just lucked out.
PBOL: You've been doing more theatre as of late, is that Jim's influence?
SW: I try to do a play every year. I certainly think that when we read Pete's script that it was fantastic to have a theatre where we knew we could do it. And it is very meaningful to us to be running a theatre in New York. But I think that even if it weren't for The Flea, I'd still want to go back; especially to Off-Broadway where I feel like the work is really interesting and I miss it.
PBOL: The past two years we've seen you doing heavy dramas — The Guys and The Mercy Seat — both involving the Sept. 11 tragedy. It's good to see you in a comedy again...
SW: I agree, there's nothing I like better than doing a comedy; especially right now. Being able to distract people and also at the same time doing something I think is very relevant is a real joy.
PBOL: What about Mrs. Farnsworth drew you to the work?
SW: I think that there are a number of things. One, the play is a very interesting look at what is fair to bring up about a person's life and career when they run for office. And, I think what I loved about Mrs. Farnsworth herself is that she's so passionate and so dear in a way. There's no malice in her, just outrage and frustration — personal and political. I think she's a very personal character whose taking the politics of the world very personally, as a lot of people are. It's affected all of our lives so much. And it was just great to play a character who, without sort of becoming a strident political creature, expresses herself with such openness and passion and sincerity. I just felt the whole dialogue was very important to bring up in an election year. PBOL: The comedy, while obviously political, works on a relationship level as well.
SW: I definitely think it's a play that can be done whether it's an election year or not. There's much more, in an odd way, about self-expression and closure and all those things we bring up in the writing workshop [in the play].
PBOL: Does working in smaller, intimate spaces worry you or is it easier?
SW: I've just always been drawn to Off-Broadway. Maybe because that's where I worked most of the time when I first came to the city and worked with so many beginning playwrights. I have always been so grateful to have had three or four years Off-Broadway before I had to go and do anything that was more conventional because I feel like Off- and Off-Off-Broadway are where the really interesting stuff starts to bubble up. Also, I feel like the Off-Broadway audiences are very smart, very engaged, very sophisticated. Actually there's kind of a hunger for all art forms right now, I think. People are really looking to music, dance, painting, theatre, even movies for distraction, solace, inspiration, all kinds of things. And it's a very vital time because I feel like people really are drinking up art. We need it because they nourish us and keep up going.
PBOL: You've worked in science-fiction, comedy, drama, on stage and on screen. Do you try to find a balance?
SW: I think there's some sort of interior compass that's always trying to find comedy which I think — a good comedy — is a rare creature in any medium. I always try to find the humor in the serious things because I think that's more life-like. I really prefer to do new work. People ask me 'Do you want to do Hedda Gabler?' and I know I should, but the truth is what I really want to do is a new play. And I would run to a new play a hundred times faster than an old play.
PBOL: What's next on your plate? Movies? More stagework?
SW: I'm sort of hoping that maybe this will have another life; we can't continue at The Flea. But, it would be wonderful if we could play it more this year. I've talk to Republicans and Democrats who have seen the show; I even know a few Republicans who are coming back again. I hope that perhaps we'll be scooped up and put in a small theatre elsewhere, so that we can continue to do the play a while longer. Or in the fall. It's a very juicy, topical sparkling comedy... [and] I think everyone needs a good laugh about this.