People’s Light begins 2020 with Lucy Kirkwood’s The Children, a 2018 Tony Award nominee for Best Play. This show follows two retired nuclear physicists who live a quiet life by the sea. The world around them is plagued by earthquakes, tsunamis, and a nearby nuclear meltdown. When a former colleague turns up after forty years with a shocking request, the trio must reckon with their shared culpability in this dark but funny disaster.
We spoke with Marcia Saunders, who plays the role of Hazel, about the show, her character, and what we can learn from the story’s prominent themes.
Q: Tell us about your role in The Children. What is your character like?
A: Hazel is a nuclear engineer who retired early to start a small, organic dairy farm just inside the exclusion zone. She and her husband Robin have four children and four grandchildren. Both of us are in our 60s and are now living in a cottage by the sea outside the endangered zone from the Power Plant. Hazel is deeply fond of animals. Robin (my husband in the play) and I have been married almost 39 years.
Q: How did you prepare for this role?
A: Read the script a lot!! Read all the material the theater provided on Lucy Kirkwood. We had nuclear engineers come in to talk to us about the running of a Nuclear Power Plant. They were terrific and most helpful. Our resident Dramaturg provided reams of material regarding specific aspects of the play.
Have you met Lucy Kirkwood, the playwright? What tips has she given the actors for this production?
A: No, but I have read all the interviews with her about the play. Lucy Kirkwood is very specific about following the punctuation in the play as it has quite a rhythm to it. That was a big tip! And it is true.
Q: Do you find yourself like Hazel in any way?
A: Yes. In so far as, I deeply love animals and am quite maternal. I live on a farm and have a great flock of chickens who all have names. I also have a rooster who is most protective of his girls, yet kind. He’s an all white cochin named Lou. I’ve been married for 33 years and have a 27 year old son.
Q: What has been the audience reception so far?
A: I’ve only gotten one response from a friend who saw it Thursday night. He said he was blown away by the production and the script. Praised us all to the skies. And our first preview performance ended with the audience giving us a standing ovation. That was reassuring. It has truly been a blessing to work on this play with such incredibly talented folks in every aspect of this production.
Q: What do you hope audiences take away from this show?
A: That climate change is a REAL THREAT AND NOT A HOAX as our present President is trying his level best in taking away a myriad of environmental protections that have been put in place now for YEARS! Fracking, coal. Dumping waste back in to the waterways from industrial plants to name a few.
Q: Climate change is an important, serious subject. What do you do in your everyday life to reduce your carbon footprint?
A: I volunteer for an organization that saves open space and addresses the needs to keep our waterways clean! And we recycle like mad!
Directed by Executive Artistic Director Abigail Adams, The Children stars People’s Light veterans Janis Dardaris, Marcia Saunders, and Graham Smith; and runs in the 160-seat Steinbright Stage now through February 9th.
In partnership with the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University and the National Theatre of Great Britain, People’s Light is the first theatre in the United States to offer Smart Caption Glasses to theatre audiences. These glasses, which debut on January 22nd at 7:30pm, provide in-line captioning of the play’s text within smart glasses.
Tickets start at $35, including fees. To purchase, call 610.644.3500 or visit peopleslight.org.