Daisey said that, although he’s given the experience a great deal of thought, “fundamentally, it didn’t change the core of how I do my work. I’ve already dedicated myself, I think like we all do, to doing better work all the time.”
Is “American Utopias” fiction or non? “I’m coming from the standpoint that it’s a story. It is true. I am telling it. If people choose to go and fact-check it, how wonderful that they’re so engaged in my work.”
So, does that mean it’s true? People “can choose what kind of truth that means to themselves. . . . I’m not going to submit to the kind of interrogations the work has received in the past.”
He is prepared for a different kind of interrogation: feedback from a live crowd. “You need an audience that’s warm and receptive but isn’t sycophantic,” he said. “You can’t do it in the living room for a group of friends. You need the charged environment of the actual theater.”
Sunday at 7 p.m. at Woolly Mammoth, 641 D St. NW. 202-393-3939. woollymammoth.net.
Keegan Theatre is wrapping up its run of “A Couple of Blaguards,” which means it is probably about time for the uninitiated to verify the definition of a “blaguard.”
I consulted an expert, and by that I mean I called Colin Smith, who is directing the production. Excellent choice, self! He provided not only a definition but also the etymology: “A blaguard is like a scoundrel,” he said. “I believe it came originally from a military term, the black guard. [They were] a sort of frowned-upon group.”
This is a lovely definition but might not be accurate, as the Dictionary of Word Origins offers the following: Blackguard was a nickname for the kitchen knaves in a lord’s retinue, because they used black iron pots and utensils and also because they were dirtier than other workers. Either way, kind of a rude thing to say to someone. But, we’ll take it!
The play, by brothers Frank and Malachy McCourt, tells the story of their childhood in Ireland and immigration to the United States. The narrative is nonlinear; the play consists of vignettes. Smith said the transition scenes “were as important to me and the actors as the scene parts, because that’s when we really get to see them being brothers.”
The sketch-style show is a change of pace for Smith, who directed Keegan’s production of “Laughter on the 23rd Floor” last season. “It’s a little more freeing than working with a very structured, linear play,” he said. “There’s nothing scripted [in the transitions], but there’s room for the actors to find the brothers’ relationship . . . [and] what inspires them to tell the next story.”
Despite the hardships faced by the McCourts, many of which were famously documented in Frank’s books, “Angela’s Ashes” and “’Tis,” Smith said that what drew him to the play was the brothers’ sense of humor.
“There’s something about Irish comedy that always has some pathos involved that I really like about it,” Smith said. “The whole play is about struggles growing up in Limerick, immigrating to America, to New York, and behind everything, it’s pretty dark. But the Irish sense of humor sort of pervades over it.”
Through Sunday at Keegan Theatre, 1742 Church St. NW. 703-892-0202. keegantheatre.com.