Two years ago, Virginia Rep was preparing to start rehearsals for Bo Wilson’s new play, Bonnie and Claire, when the Pandemic hit. We caught up with him this week and discovered that he is giddy with excitement to start this process all over again.
Best known to Hanover audiences for his hilarious Charitable Sisterhood plays, Bo Wilson’s new play is a funny and heartwarming story about two sisters who reluctantly reunite after a forty-year separation. Now in the autumn of their lives, Bonnie and Claire find themselves increasingly reliant on their niece, Zoe, who is trying to start a business and a family of her own while conducting delicate diplomacy between the feuding siblings. Jan Powell will direct.
ABOUT THE PLACE
The play takes place in a small mill town which would feel smaller if it didn’t have a university of about twenty thousand students. Those who know such towns will be able to imagine its odd amalgam of old businesses and new, student-centered enterprises.
ABOUT THE CHARACTERS
BONNIE begins the play as a woman of 67. She is tough and hard-shelled, with an acid humor. She tends to assume that things can and will get worse.
CLAIRE begins the play as a woman of 62. She is Bonnie’s younger sister; vivacious, exuberant, demonstrative. She is the half-full to Bonnie’s half-empty.
ZOE begins the play as a young woman of 18. She is Bonnie and Claire’s niece, the daughter of their brother. She is highly efficient and she relishes new ideas. Unfashionably avid. She doesn’t miss much.
Here are some reflections Bo shared with us on the path to creating, workshopping and now presenting his new play.
I can’t pretend that the postponement of a play was the worst thing about the pandemic… but it stung. We had a great cast and a great artistic team. Marcia Hailey Miller’s costumes were gorgeous, and Terrie Powers‘ set was one of the most lovely that she’s ever designed. And then SWOOP, the carpet got pulled out from under all of us.
It felt particularly frustrating because we’d had such a fruitful script development process. Virginia Rep hosted two weekend workshops where the cast and I read through the play several times, interrogating it and each other– what was clear? What needed work? Did we have enough of this? Too much of that? The second workshop culminated in a chamber reading for an invited audience, who stayed afterward to discuss and ask questions or make points. It was all tremendously useful, helping us to think very clearly about the characters, their relationships, and their histories.
Fast forward almost exactly two years, and the fates are truly smiling on us (knock wood!) Two of our cast members were no longer available, but we still have Virginia Rep favorite Jan Guarino in one of the starring roles, and the other two cast members– to be announced soon!– are also well known and beloved by Virginia Rep audiences. We’re still able to use Terrie’s amazing set, and Marcia’s wonderful costumes, and the script is in better shape than ever.
I can’t tell you how lucky I feel, and how excited we all are to finally be able to take our audiences along on the very special ride of Bonnie and Claire.
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