The following is an interview with Ye’ela Rosenfeld regarding her currently running production of The Physicists at the 2017 Hollywood Fringe Festival. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Rosenfeld about the inspiration behind the show, how she approved the revival of the original work, what she hopes that audiences will take away from the show, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: The play, The Physicists, is currently appearing as part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival. For those who may be unfamiliar, what can you tell us about its premise?
Ye’ela Rosenfeld: The Physicists is a classic play written in 1961 by the Swiss playwright Friedrich Durrenmatt, who is most known for his play, The Visit. It takes place in an insane asylum where a murder investigation unfolds. Two patients, one who believes that he is Isaac Newton and one who believe he’s Albert Einstein, just murdered the nurses who were caring for them. The Physicists is a grotesque comedy which explores the relations between science and politics and asks the tough questions; who do we put in the helm to lead this world and isn’t the world really ran by crazy people.
BD: As the director, what attracted you to the project, and how did you approach its revival?
YR: I have known the play since I was a teenager. My father who is a theatre director had a huge library of plays. For some reason I put it as a personal goal to read them all… Recently, when getting the itch to put up a show, I picked it up and read it again. To my delight I found myself laughing out loud on my couch, and it was then when I realized that that’s the one to revive. The play did not just happen to be very timely. It also asks difficult questions and examines deep and profound ethical dilemmas and all of that – with humor.
In my version I have chosen to push the Durrenmatt circus even further. The play is performed with a live band, an Avant-Jazz trio playing original score composed by Tom McLaughlin (a Quiet Storm). I have also pushed to the extreme some of the characters, such as the Head Psychiatrist (played by Jacque Lynn Colton) who I put on an electric wheelchair and the Chief Attendant (Played by Konstantin Lavysh who is moving on stage while constantly accompanied by a circus like version of a Nazi march.
BD: You have a fantastic cast and crew involved with the project! What can you share with us about the creative process of working with the team and bringing the show to life?
YR: The Physicists had an extensive 6-week rehearsal schedule in which we have rehearsed daily. Any independent theater maker would admit that trying to schedule 15 actors (including kids!!!) on a low budget such as this and have them commit to such an extensive schedule is quite ambitious. But thanks to our magnificent stage manager Angela Acuna and the admirable devotion and professionalism of the cast, we made it happen. The Physicists may be unique in the Fringe landscape for it being a full 2-hour play with intermission which provides the full theatrical experience including period design (by artist Rhea Cutillo), a known play and live music.
BD: What do you hope that audiences will take away from the show?
YR: The play raises a lot of questions of importance that each can evoke a lengthy discussion. When advancements in science provide us with god-like capabilities to create and to destroy, is there really anyone who should bare responsibility? The scientists? The politicians? Or humanity as a whole? Are we to trust our leaders and the people we put in a position of power? As the play says, “What is once thought, can never be unthought” and so the disastrous results are unfortunately inevitable.
I do hope that besides the important questions and discussions which the play brings to light, American audiences will be exposed to a piece of European classic and will become more familiar with the genre of absurd and grotesque theatre.
BD: What makes the Hollywood Fringe Festival an ideal venue for The Physicists?
YR: In all honesty as this play is a full-length theatrical classic piece, it is not really a Fringe show in nature; however, the Hollywood Fringe Fest is a momentous performing arts event, which brings audiences of all kinds to the theatrical experience. Being a part of it makes it accessible to people whom otherwise would have never stumbled into our doorstep.
BD: The show will be appearing at the Sacred Fools Theatre through June 23, 2017. Are there any future plans to perform the show at other venues?
YR: We very much hope to keep running and bring this piece to more audiences.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects that you would care to share with our readers?
YR: As a filmmaker as well, I do have a couple of projects in different stages of production and updates can be found on my website www.yeelarosenfeld.com. As for the entire cast and crew, everyone is working on multiple projects and encourages audiences to take a look at our program and continue to support and follow us through all our future endeavors.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell readers who want to learn more about and purchase tickets for The Physicists?
YR: We only have 5 shows left stating this week. Please secure your ticket, so as not to miss out on this truly unique, hilarious, and though-provoking piece.