A Journey from Loss to Life – A Feature Q & A with Rabbit Hole’s Mary Saville

Rabbit Hole at Stage Door Players

Mary Saville and Matthew Myers. Photo by R.Todd Fleeman

Currently, audiences have been able to experience Stage Door Players’ production of the Pulitzer Prize  and Tony Award-winning drama Rabbit Hole, by David Lindsay-Abaire. In the production, Mary Saville plays Becca, who has recently lost her four-year-old son in a tragic accident. In this Feature Q & A, Saville discusses the character’s emotional journey, the cast and more.

How would you describe the play? 

Rabbit Hole more than deserves the Pulitzer Prize it won. It’s beautifully well constructed, the language is enormously natural, and the characters are perfectly delineated. The play is an exploration of the way life moves forward—and sometimes backward—in the face of loss. It feels exactly like the audience is just sitting in the corner of the house, living with this family as they struggle and laugh and fight and cry.

What three words would you use to describe Becca?

Driven, Toiling, Lost.

What is the most challenging part of playing her?

The most obvious challenge is the emotional place she comes from—having to imagine myself into the experience of such a horrible loss is hard on the heart. But from a technical standpoint, it was challenging to plot out the arc of the character because she doesn’t move from one point to another in any kind of smooth or coherent manner; her journey through the play has a one-step-forward-two-steps-back quality, just as real grief does.

What drew you to the character?

I’m intrigued by how hard Becca has worked to get past the “blame” phase of dealing with her tragedy. She’s been very intentional about that in the months before the play begins. I’m also intrigued by the seesaw she’s on—between having lost all sense of meaning and purpose, and fighting to regain control over her life.

Is there a comedian/jokester in the cast? Does his/her antics help to lighten the atmosphere since it is an emotional play?

We had such a short rehearsal period, we’ve hardly had time to do ANYTHING besides put our heads down and WORK HARD! But I actually think every person in this cast is funny and fun to be around. And I appreciate that Dina Shadwell, our director, encouraged us to find the funny and the light notes in the play all throughout. It’s important to not let it get too heavy, for the audience as much as for ourselves.

What do enjoy most about working with this cast?

These people are amazing! They’re gifted actors AND terrific people. Cara Mantella and Matt Myers are both people I’ve been friends with for a long time and have always admired as performers but never had the chance to work with. It’s so much fun to play with them every night! And I love the feeling that no matter what might happen onstage, Matt Myers WILL catch me and WILL be brilliant while doing so. I didn’t know Patti French before this, but I’ve seen her on stage and have such respect for her distinguished career. And Chase Alford is pretty new to the Atlanta theater community, but it’s been a pleasure to get to know him (he’s talented and sweet, so more directors should hire him). I feel so fortunate to be counted among the company of such great actors!

What’s next for you?

I’ve had a very busy fall, so I’m actually looking forward to having a few months to focus solely on auditioning, with no shows lined up.

If you could take a plane to New York today. What show would you choose to see?

In musicals, it would be Pippin, Matilda, Aladdin, Cinderella, and A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. As far as plays, I’d love to see Disgraced, Ayad Ahktar’s thought-provoking Pulitzer winner, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, which is based on a stunning and remarkable novel, The Audience with Helen Mirren, and Bradley Cooper’s version of The Elephant Man (having loved Georgia Ensemble’s production).

Rabbit Hole runs through December 7, 2014 at Stage Door Players. For tickets and more information, please visit the theater’s website.

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