Mark Christopher Baer, director of Indiana University Northwest’s Theatre Northwest’s production of “Well,” said he has learned some personal lessons on the road to bringing the acclaimed drama to the stage.
“I think the play taught me something about empathy and how hard it is to see our own biases when it comes to dealing with family members,” he said. “I think that there’s a lot to think about with this play.”
Running through Nov. 10 at IUN’s Theatre Northwest Mainstage, “Well” is the tale of Lisa, a middle-aged woman who chronicles her relationship with her mother, Ann, who is brought onto the stage to show her scenes from Lisa’s life. Lisa also focuses on her family’s history of mental illness, which has affected her significantly.
“Well” was penned by Ann Arbor and Lansing, Michigan-raised playwright and actress Lisa Kron, whose credits include the Tony Award-winning musical “Fun Home” and the acclaimed “2.5 Minute Ride.”
The play made its off-Broadway debut in 2004 and, two years later, was staged on Broadway. Both productions received critical raves.
“I think it’s one of the best new plays I’ve read in a long time,” Baer said. “It’s surprising in its structure. It plays with some of the rules we think there are about what a theatrical experience is … this play kind of breaks apart in a way that makes it feel very live, as if something unique is happening.”
Amber Holley is Lisa and Stephanie Naumoff is Ann in Theatre Northwest’s “Well.” The cast is rounded out by Valerie Plinovich, Mia Godfrey, Elijah Sabourin and Jay-Lan Hallibuton, who take on multiple roles.
“Stephanie Naumoff is an alumni coming back to Theatre Northwest, and she’s a real terrific example to our current students about how to conduct yourself as a performer,” Baer said. “She’s throwing herself into this part, and I think it’s going to be really exciting.”
Next up for IUN Theatre Northwest is a production of “A Doll’s House,” scheduled to open at Theatre Northwest Mainstage Feb. 9.