March 27, 2016
BY JUDY CARMACK BROSS
This election year seems like just the right time for playwright Lucas Hnath’s newest work, Hilary and Clinton, having its world premiere at Victory Gardens Theater next month. It follows on the success of the author’s Red Speedo and The Christians, and his New York Times recognition as “one of the brightest voices of his generation.”
Still, Hilary and Clinton star, Chicago-born actor John Apicella, says you have to picture characters with these names as they might operate in another universe with none of our definitions of reality. He helped explain more thoroughly what this mind-bending suggestion truly asks of us:
“Lucas writes with such striking and insightful style; there is much like George Bernard Shaw in the way he uses language. It was great to have him sit in with us on some rehearsals. To him, the universe is infinite and there is not quite our reality about what’s going on: it’s a political storm in another world. I certainly don’t look like Bill Clinton, and I don’t play it with an Arkansas accent or with any Clintonesque mannerisms. It is set in a New Hampshire somewhere in 2008.”
A founder and past artistic director of the highly regarded Antaeus Theater Company in Los Angeles, John has starred in plays across the country. His TV and movie credits include Seinfeld, Twin Peaks, Point Break, NYPD Blue, and High Crimes.
We visited with John following a six-hour rehearsal.
“We take a few short breaks, but afterwards we go home to further study our lines and our characters. The language is wonderful and you have to practice over and over to get it perfect, to really get it into your bloodstream. Cheryl Lynn Bruce, who plays Hilary, has massive monologues and the lioness’s share of the work. Chay Yew, our director and Artistic Director of Victory Gardens, is one of the most talented and significant theater artists in the country and makes every project exciting and challenging. I consider it a highlight of my career to be on the list of people he wants to work with.”
Although he moved from Chicago’s Taylor Street neighborhood when he was only eight years old, John remembers clearly when his father made that decision.
“He walked into the kitchen, threw the snow shovel on the table, and announced that we were moving to Arizona. It is great to be back, working in a city where theater is so important to people. Everyone here is always talking about their favorite theater, it is unique in America.”
Hilary and Clinton runs April 1 through May 1 at the Victory Gardens Theater at 2433 North Lincoln Avenue.