Edward Albee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Three Tall Women debuted on Broadway March 29 in a new production from director Joe Mantello starring three of theatre’s strongest women: Glenda Jackson, Laurie Metcalf, and Alison Pill. One of three of Albee’s Pulitzer-winning works (he also won for A Delicate Balance and Seascape), the play premiered at the Vineyard Theatre in 1994 and never made it to Broadway.
Mantello and the three stars greeted Playbill LIVE after their opening night performance to speak about bringing their characters—A, B, and C—to life, what their rehearsal process was like, and how performing in a play about reflection caused them to examine their own lives.
The two-time Tony-winning director joined Playbill first to talk about his approach to a play. “I spend a lot of time with a play before going into rehearsal, initially with the designers and the great Miriam Buether, who designed the set—we designed it all by Skype," he shared. “We didn’t meet in person until the set was designed and she came over with a model. That was really my entré into the play, was my collaboration with Miriam.
“Then I just read the play over and over and over again and once it's cast I imagine those particular voices in my head. But then I try to start at zero in collaboration with the actors try to clear the underbrush of the play.”
He also spoke about Metcalf, whom he’d directed on Broadway twice before (in November and The Other Place, both of which earned her Tony nominations). “What I love about Laurie is there are no pre-conceived notions going in with her. I think her mission with a play is to give the audience the ride of their lives. There's a kind of irreverence,” he says.
And it seems the admiration is mutual. “I heard Joe Mantello, my favorite director ever, I heard Glenda Jackson was attached to it and Alison Pill was going to be in it and Scott Rudin was gonna be producing and I thought, 'I need to be in that rehearsal room,'” Metcalf said.
To hear her full thoughts, as well as insights from Jackson and Pill, watch the full stream above.