Tracie Lockwood Shines in “Hostage” at the Skylight Theatre

If you keep a list of rock solid A-list stage actresses in Hollywood, then you’re already familiar with the name Tracie Lockwood. Winner of a Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for Featured Performance (A Permanent Image at Rogue Machine), Tracie also garnered two nominations for Supporting Actress from the Los Angeles Stage Alliance Ovation Awards and from Stage Raw, as well as six other ensemble awards for productions she has appeared in Los Angeles.

Currently, Tracie is on stage at the Skylight Theatre in a new play called Hostage by Michelle Kholos Brooks. One of the most compelling, heart rendering productions currently showing in L.A., Hostage is based on a little known but true story the story took place during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis. A rogue mother from Wisconsin travels to Iran to save her son who has been taken prisoner by the Iranian revolutionaries. It is a highly personal take on the incident and uncovers an unexpected connection between two disparate cultures. At a time when the U.S. State Department was unable to help the hostages during the 444 day stand off, the human spirit proved bigger than politics.

Tracie is dynamic as “Barbara Timm,” the mother who makes the trip against all odds, and L.A. audiences are once again taking notice of her strength as an actress. The Los Angeles Times noted “Lockwood’s deceptively unassuming performance is a beacon of authenticity that lights the stage…emotionally shattering.”

Zachary Grant and Tracie Lockwood

We were able to sit down with her between shows to find out more about her role and the play:

HR: Why did you want to take on this role?

Tracie: Because it spoke to me on a cellular level. I am a mother myself; the story is very compelling for two major reasons. First, the idea that this is based on a true story…that Barbara, the character I play, actually did this crazy thing despite her governments objections. She gets on a plane and flies to a hostile country to ask her sons captors to release him, that’s just a beautiful crystallization of what it means to be a mother and what lengths you are willing to go to for your children.

Second, because, especially as a mom, at this point in our political climate it seemed very important to me to tell stories that reflect our common humanity and fragility. At its core, this story asks us to stop demonizing each other as merely reflections of our politics, governments or belief systems and asks us to look at one another as humans with different but equally relevant worldviews.

Cast of “Hostage”

HR: What was the most difficult part about preparing for this role?

Tracie: Honestly, this show was a not difficult. The cast is wonderful, Michelle the writer, and Elina de Santos, the director (who are both mother’s themselves) are incredible and collaborative artists who encouraged us to really play and explore and to keep the central story of a mothers love front and center in our minds, so I got a lot for free.

Maybe the only danger is getting too comfortable in the repetition of doing it over and over and allowing yourself to forget for even a moment how truly shocking, harrowing, and brave the whole thing really was. I think about how quickly your comfortable situation can change, and then I am able to click right into Barb’s story.

HR: How does your experience differ at the Skylight Theatre, from other L.A. theaters?

Tracie: Somehow, at the Skylight, I always seem to get cast as a Republican. I’ve done two world premieres there, the other being Church and State by Jason Odell Williams. In both plays my characters, though wildly different, could be summed up as Republican women who start out with very conventional, conservative worldviews. They are challenged by an extraordinary event and as a result, they change slightly which in turn also challenges what are often very liberal audiences, stereotypical views on Republican women.

Cast of “Hostage”

HR: How have audiences been reacting to this play?

Tracie: Very positive. It has not been uncommon for people to contact me days after seeing the show. Many say that they are still thinking about it, processing it and being impacted by it. It’s a quick ride but such a roller coaster, and it really doesn’t give you a break emotionally once it starts. Because of the three quarter staging and the way that the two timelines weave in and out of each other, the audience is kind of in the hostage room(s). During some performances it has been so quiet in the house that you can hear a pin drop and the audience is just holding their breath waiting to see what happens and other nights the audience takes every opportunity to laugh. Michelle Kholos Brooks has very cleverly included some really funny moments to act as pressure valves that release a little tension. But, as we get to the end we can usually always hear a fair amount of sniffling in the house. We’re really proud of this production. It’s a compelling story, at a compelling time.

HR: Thanks for talking with us, Tracie.

Tracie: Thank you.

Satiar Pourvasei, Zachary Grant, Tracie Lockwood and Vaneh Assadourian

Skylight continues with their post Sunday matinee series, “Beyond Conversation,” free to audiences who attend the performance. The discussion panels allow audiences to gain deeper insights into the contemporary themes of the play. A full list of guest speakers, dates and topics will be posted on Skylight’s website http://www.skylighttheatre.org

HOSTAGE runs Fridays and Saturdays at 8:30pm; 2:00pm on Sundays; and 8:00pm on Mondays through June 24, 2018.

The cast includes Vaneh Assadourian (Tehran Mary), Jack Clinton (Kenny), Zachary Grant (Kevin), Christopher Hoffman (Richard), Tracie Lockwood (as Barbara), and Satair Pouvasei (Ebrahim)

Skylight Theatre is located at 1816 1/2 N. Vermont Ave, LA, 90027.

Tickets are $15 – $39.99. Reservations: 213-761-7061 or 866-811-4111. Online at http://SkylightTix.com

 

 

 

Pocatello – A Play Review

by Peter Foldy

Rogue Machine’s production of Samuel D. Hunter’s play, POCATELLO currently playing at the Met Theatre in Los Angeles deals with dysfunctionality and the corporatization of America. Set in a nation-wide Italian restaurant on the brink of closing down, the play brings together a group of characters who struggle with the changing landscape of their hometown and the shifting and fragile relationships they endure with their families and co-workers. They find it hard to communicate with each other and some have not been able to let go of the demons of the past that continues to haunt them.

Mark L. Taylor, Justin Okin, Eden Brolin, Melissa Paladino, Tracie Lockwood, and Trevor Peterson

Mark L. Taylor, Justin Okin, Eden Brolin, Melissa Paladino, Tracie Lockwood, and Trevor Peterson

At the center of the play is Eddie, the restaurant manager (Matthew Elkins) who juggles two secrets. His sexuality and the fact that the business is on the brink of going under. His crotchety mother, Doris, (Anne Gee Byrd) a woman unable to show affection, does everything in her power to put Eddie down in front of his bother, Nick (Rob Nagel) Nick’s pretty wife, Kelly (Rebecca Larsen) as well as Eddie’s employees.

We also meet a waiter named Troy (Justin Okin) who struggles to make ends meet while trying to deter his alcoholic wife, Tammy (Tracie Lockwood) from drinking again. He also has to cope with his senile father (Mark L. Taylor) and his cryptic wild child of a daughter named Becky (Eden Brolin).

Mathhew Elkins and Anne Gee Byrd

Matthew Elkins and Anne Gee Byrd

Also working at the restaurant is the crack addicted and otherwise unemployable waiter, Max (Trevor Peterson) and his occasional sex buddy, Isabelle (at this performance played by Melissa Paladino). 

As the eatery approaches it’s demise, so does the connection between the characters. Nick and Kelly leave Pocotello promising never to return. Tammy slips and drifts back into drinking again while her daughter, Becky realizes she must escape Pocatello as soon as she is able.

Tracie Lockwood, Eden Brolin, and Justin Okin

Tracie Lockwood, Eden Brolin, and Justin Okin

John Perrin Flynn’s direction moves the characters on Stephanie Kerley Schwartz’s beautifully designed set like pawns on a chessboard. Each and every cast member in Pocotello shines. They are highly committed and believable in their respective roles. With such great actors portraying these lost souls one would think that Mr. Hunter’s script would help us care about their problems just a little more, but sadly his characters find it a struggle to articulate them. I wanted to know why Troy and Tammy’s marriage is failing. Is it just the booze? Why does Nick seem to hate his brother, Eddie so much? Is it because he is gay? What happened between these people?

While sometimes less is more, in this case more would have been a blessing. What we end up with is a mash up of explosive outbursts, family psychodrama and nostalgic monologues about days gone by.

At the end of the day only the kind-hearted Eddie manages to find some redemption, leaving us with a glimmer of hope that Eddie and mom have taken a small step toward normalizing their fragile relationship in a town where nothing is normal anymore.

Pocotello ends up feeling much like a turbulent Thanksgiving dinner with your family. Love them or hate them you may one day look back with nostalgia at the event, perhaps even grateful for having been there.

POCATELLO runs at 8:30pm on Mondays, Fridays, and Saturdays, and 3pm on Sundays through April 10, 2016. ROGUE MACHINE is located at The Met, 1089 N. Oxford Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90029.

Tickets are $34.99.

Reservations: 855-585-5185 or at www.roguemachinetheatre.com

Photos by John Perrin Flynn