Leisure & Lust at The Mount: A Labor of Love

This post was contributed by playwright Sara Farrington.

The last weekend of January, director Marina McClure, myself, set designer Mary Hamrick and our dedicated team of four fiery actors, Kyle Stockburger, Michael Aurelio, Gabriella Rhodeen and Stephanie Regina, performed Leisure & Lust at The Mount. It was a marathon for every artist involved.

Marina placed the plays there in her staging of the piece, meticulously coordinating sightlines in these small rooms, walking a fine line between welcoming an audience into the story while still maintaining that irresistible intimacy, that forbidden feeling of “I shouldn’t be seeing this.”

Although I am a playwright and Marina a director, I might more accurately call us “wildly rebellious artists in the medium of projecting our imaginations around in the form of theater.” I know how that sounds, but I think Edith Wharton trafficked in this label too. She did much more than write my favorite novels: she designed, drew, gardened, did philanthropic work, pondered history and science, entertained, had a passion for food and music. It all stemmed from her insatiable imagination.

Marina and I couldn’t squeeze in for the first show on Saturday, but had to put ourselves somewhere out of sight. So we both climbed into Mrs. Wharton’s bathtub in the bathroom next door to the boudoir and listened to the play from there. No, not quite listened. Eavesdropped. The play was strangely amplified through the walls—saturating them, almost as if the walls were breathing the lines in and out. It was louder, fuller in the bathroom than in the boudoir itself. I almost couldn’t listen. It was too real, too true. It was in there that I had my moment with Mrs. Wharton. No, this wasn’t a play or an installation piece or a voyeuristic peek through a keyhole. This was a perfect storm of story, person, performance, place and an absolute love and profound attempt at understanding our subject. And it was exactly as we imagined.