In Jeff Talbott's The Submission, Meet Theatre People Behaving Badly

By Harry Haun
08 Sep 2011

Rutina Wesley and Will Rogers
photo by Thom Kaine

Wesley, who throws both of those monkey wrenches into this billowing bonfire, is staying mum about the mysteries of her role, but it's no secret how happy she is to be on stage again: "Theatre is where I get inspiration, and to be back with this play is great for me." Then it's back to making a dying for herself on TV's "True Blood."

Will Rogers is content with his actor/best-friend slot. "I'm the sounding board for these new plays Danny writes," he explains. "I'm kinda there as a support system, a voice of reason trying to bring him back down to earth at times."

Thomas, also on a TV break (from "How To Make It in America"), adds, "Theatre makes you cry and drives you crazy, but you're here because we want to be. My character's the guy who says, 'You guys don't have to do this.' I identified with his understanding of the passion and his distance from it.

"What I like is that Jeff wrote a very honest piece. You read it, and you kinda cringe. You're, like, 'Wow! You just gonna put all that personal stuff out there?' And I think if we're going to do this play, we might as well do that. Him writing a play that honestly inspires me as an actor to, hopefully, put something vulnerable out there as well."

Perhaps these are Talbott's acting roots showing. Prior to playwriting, the Yale School of Drama grad was seen on Broadway in the revival of Sly Fox and covering Fortune's Fool. Off-Broadway in 1999, he played a shrink in the first NYC revival of Arthur Laurents' first play, Home of the Brave. Ironically, Talbott's first play was the first recipient of the Laurents-Hatcher Award, a prize named for the playwright and his partner, Tom Hatcher. "Arthur made the connection because he was very involved in that revival," says Talbott, "but he didn't know that I was the one who wrote it, because the names of the contending playwrights were unknown to the judges." Laurents died May 5, just weeks after handing Talbott the prize money at an award reception, where the 93-year-old playwright called the script "fearless."

The Submission began with a conversation, and Talbott hopes it ends with one as well: "When people walk away from this play, I'd like it to start in their own lives a conversation about how they treat people and how we regard one another."

Check out's video feature with the cast.