The Bay Theatre Company’s “Love Letters,” opening Friday in Annapolis, stars real-life married couple and D.C. theater veterans Valerie Leonard and Nigel Reed. The play follows the story of childhood-friends-turned-adult-lovers who spend much of their lives communicating through the mail. Though Leonard and Reed have yet to exchange love letters in real life, they’re game to share whatever expertise they’ve gleaned from working on “Love Letters” with us.
*Important: The entire interview was conducted with the husband and wife seated directly across from each other, possibly influencing each other’s answers and definitely making meaningful eye contact. Did this affect their answers? Would they have revealed more in private? One can only guess.
Getting to know you On the purpose of a love letter, Reed says, “every letter provides insight into who is writing it. It builds a sense of character, a sense of the relationship, a sense of place.”
Captain Courageous “Anytime somebody writes a love letter,” Leonard says, “it’s an act of bravery. . . . You have to put more of yourself, physically [by writing by hand] if not emotionally, into a letter.”
From here to eternity Leonard believes the reason love letters hold as strong a place in our collective imagination today as we did when Heloise and Abelard basked in eternal sunshine together in the 12th century is because “the feelings are transcendent of time. You can feel it because you have never felt it, or you have, or you want to.”
But enough about me Says Reed: “You write about the other person. You don’t write about yourself. It’s not enough to say ‘I love you.’ You have to say what is wonderful and beautiful about that person that makes you love them.”
Low-tech Reed is not so hot on this whole Internet thing, or cellular phones. “Texting and e-mail hold no place in matters of the heart.” Leonard agrees, insisting that one of the best parts of reading a love letter is “looking at the handwriting and seeing someone’s signature.” However, she allows that “younger people might absolutely think it was fine to use an e-mail.”
Last but not least Reed advises, “Don’t forget to sign it.”
at the Bay Street Theatre Company. West Garrett Building, 275 West St., Annapolis. Friday-March 4. 410-268-1333. www.baytheatre.org. $35-$55.