Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: The play, The Night of Blue and Salt, will soon premiere at the NY International Fringe Festival. For our readers who may be unfamiliar with the show, how would you describe its premise?
Jenna Langbaum: The Night of Blue and Salt follows WIFE and MAN, a couple whose young love rusts into a seemingly hopeless fate. WIFE, full of magic and manic, longs to be a writer, often speaking in lines of Sylvia Plath and Virginia Woolf. MAN, full of knowledge and numbers becomes a surgeon, speaking mostly in medical jargon and statistics. When WIFE and MAN endure the tragedy of losing their baby girl, their lack of communication is ultimately their greatest downfall. Written in the style of Theatre of the Absurd and riddled with dark humor, WIFE gradually dismantles the shackles of domesticity and a loveless marriage to be the dramatic feminist ingénue she always longed to be.
BD: The production originated as your final thesis at Hamilton College. What inspired the writing of the show, and when did you decide to submit it to the Fringe Festival?
JL: At Hamilton, I wrote The Night of Blue and Salt along with an extensive research paper and staged a reading of the piece with student actors. At the time, I was reading a lot of Theatre of the Absurd for my classes and just finished A Dream Play by Carole Churchill. I started with this vision of a woman in a fur coat smoking outside her pool who lost her child. I knew the tragedy of losing of her child would provoke mental illness. From there, I began researching mental illness, and I found it difficult understanding the medical jargon. Through this research, I discovered her husband. He would speak in medical jargon and she would speak in poetry and they would just barely communicate. I interned at the Fringe Festival the summer of 2013, and, after I wrote the play, I would daydream about submitting the piece to the festival. I applied on a whim, and I got in! I couldn’t be more excited!
BD: As the writer, director, producer, and a performer within the show, how do you balance the workload of the production and do you feel that the various roles enhance your creative process?
JL: It has been very challenging but also very rewarding! I have immersed myself in every aspect of this show and as the writer, director, and producer. I have the opportunity to bring my specific vision of this story to life. The various roles definitely enhance my creative process. I am also lucky because my cast offers great insight into the script and the production as a whole.
BD: What do you hope that audiences will take away from the show?
JL: The Night of Blue and Salt offers a glimpse into a slightly absurd, dysfunctional, funny, tragic love story. I think there are elements in MAN and WIFE’s relationship we can all relate to: the stage of infatuation, the moments of anger and resentment, the isolation and the devotion that come when you’re in a relationship with one person for many years. What I take away from this show is that the idea of loving someone is ever changing. How you love someone at 15 is certainly different than how you love after tragedy and years of marriage. Even though the story of MAN and WIFE is riddled in sorrow, there is a great love beneath.
BD: What can you tell us about the cast and crew who to life, and how would you describe the creative process of the group?
JL: My fellow cast mates, Andrew Gibeley and Anna Jastrzembski, both attended Hamilton with me. We all participated in theatrical productions and took theatre courses. Andrew Gibeley actually participated in my original staged reading of the piece.
With similar theatrical backgrounds, we were able to fluidly discuss and create the world of The Night of Blue and Salt. Whether it was our work with Christopher Durang or Bertolt Brecht, we brought our shared theatrical influences to the table when deliberating over characters and moments. We spent a lot of time on the words. We treated the script like an extended poem.
BD: What makes the NY International Fringe Festival the best venue for The Night of Blue and Salt?
JL: The Night of Blue and Salt was written with a strong focus on linguistics and language. The production is minimalistic and small scale. With FringeNYC, you must be able to load in and out in 15 minutes. With FringeNYC, less is more and I feel the same way about The Night of Blue and Salt.
BD: The show will be appearing at the Fringe Festival from August 13-26, 2016. Are there any future plans to perform the show at other venues?
JL: No plans as of yet, but I hope there will be!!
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell readers who want to learn more about and purchase tickets for The Night of Blue and Salt?
JL: Click here to visit the Fringe website or here on your mobile device.