5 Questions with Amy Hausknecht
Amy Hausknecht made a strong impression on me with a pair of performances at Ghent Playhouse in “Our Town” and “A View From the Bridge.” Performances that made me sit up and say “Who is that?” She eventually started taking my acting class and I was lucky enough to have her play Elizabeth, the pastor’s wife in Harbinger Theatre’s inaugural production of “The Christians” last December. She also made her directorial debut with “Destroying David”, of which J. Peter Bergman of Berkshire Bright Focus said “Director Amy Hausknecht has done a beautiful job keeping the play alive and vivid, her actors in perfect formation as the ideas of desolation and desecration coalesce.” I am very eager to see what she’s doing next, “The Heidi Chronicles” which is playing this weekend, Friday through Sunday at Albany Barn. Admission is free.
Welcome to your sophomore effort at directing, in the same year! How did you come to be directing “The Heidi Chronicles” and what do you hope to bring to the production?
I first became involved with Bunbury Players during their Cabaret Show “It’s A Flop” last May. Riding on the success of “Destroying David (!)” with Harbinger Theatre in April, Garrett West asked me if I’d be interested in directing their production of “The Heidi Chronicles” as the original director had stepped down due to family issues. The production was going to be at the Albany Barn, and since I was very familiar with the space having performed there and taking acting classes there as well, I said “yes!” Well, as I’m new to directing, maybe it was, “yes?”
What’s the greatest difference between acting in a production and directing one, and what do you enjoy most about directing?
I am more of a forest versus tree person, so that aspect of directing very much appeals to me. It’s amazing to be involved and responsible (gulp) for every moving part of a production. I miss being in the green room though, there’s so much energy in a green room! When I walk into the green room, not as a cast member, I’m hit by this wall of energy. And there’s all this excitement! As a director I’m more nervous than excited. Well, opening night is of course still very exciting!
What does this 35 year old play have to say to us today?
The Heidi Chronicles has a lot to say to our audiences, and I hope the voice of the playwright Wendy Wasserstein will always be valued. She’s so witty, so funny, so observant. Our society has suffered under sexism. When a national presidential campaign chants “Lock Her Up” against the female opponent and tells female congresswomen of color that they need to return home. Really? This is where we’re at? We can’t have women be powerful, opinionated, and voiced? In Iran . . . ok, I’m getting really upset just writing this.
In “The Heidi Chronicles”, in a Women’s support group scene, at the end, Heidi says, “Becky, I hope our daughters never feel like us. I hope all our daughters feel so fucking worthwhile. Do you promise we can accomplish that much, Fran? Huh? Do you promise?”
Another part in the play, between Heidi and her sometimes boyfriend:
Scoop: You’re thinking something.
Heidi: Actually, I was wondering what mothers teach their sons that they never bother to tell their daughters.
Scoop: What do you mean?
Heidi: I mean, why the fuck are you so confident?
You commute quite a ways to participate in Capital Region theater. Can you comment on what you appreciate about Capital Region theater?
Ok, no exaggeration, I love Capital Region theater!!!! There is so much camaraderie, community, and support. Just amazing! I feel so connected to people, and that is a rare thing for me. I go to the theater all the time, and I almost always know someone in the cast or audience, and if I don’t, I don’t care, I know I belong in that theater seat.
What is the play that changed your life?
The play that changed my life did not have a title. It was an improvisational piece that a theater company based in Chicago, Geese Theater Company, performed at Cook County Jail. I was at the performance, not because I was incarcerated, but because I had been asked to join the company. The structure
was the game board of life, and how to get through it whether you’re incarcerated or not, and at the center was the character of the Fool, who messed with your life at every opportunity. The actors wore masks, which they lifted up when they were being honest or sincere. It was such a powerful, raw theatrical experience. I joined, of course!
Bunbury Players presents The Heidi Chronicles, by Wendy Wasserstein, at Albany Barn. Albany Barn is located at 56 2nd Street, Albany. Showtimes are Friday, Nov. 4 @ 8 pm, Saturday, Nov. 5 @ 8 pm, and Sunday, Nov. 6 @ 2 pm. Admission is free.