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Sunday, May 16, 2021

An Evening at DTC with "The Outgoing Tide"

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At a recent showing of “The Outgoing Tide” at the Delaware Theatre CompanyTown Square Delaware had the unique opportunity to attend what’s known in the business as a “talk-back.” Following the show, the actors, playwright and director came onstage to take questions from the audience.

The Story:

“The Outgoing Tide,” set on the Chesapeake Bay in the fall, tells the story of the Concannon family’s struggle with Alzheimer’s. The production includes nationally-recognized actors Peter Strauss (Gunner Concannon), Michael Learned (Peg), and Ian Lithgow, son of John Lithgow. [SPOILER ALERT: Don’t read on if you don’t want to know what happens!] While mother and son offer conflicting solutions to the plight of Gunner’s demise, it is Gunner himself that provides a plot-turning direction that ultimately poses a seemingly greater challenge to the entire family.

These actors and Executive Director Bud Martin and playwright Bruce Graham spoke at length about their roles, the challenges of theatre and their experiences with this devastating disease.

On what attracted the actors to the play:

All three actors talked about the emotional connection they felt both with the characters and with the story itself. And, as Peter summed up, “This play has legs.”

Of the difficulty of playing characters affected by Alzheimer’s:

Michael, who mentioned that her character, Peg, has “stayed with her” to the point that she loses sleep at night, talked about the importance of channeling emotion by playing off of the other characters.

The audience members, several of whom attested to the authenticity of the characters’ mannerisms and emotions, were especially interested in Peter’s method. He researched his part by studying YouTube videos of families affected by Alzheimer’s – a process he described as both “edifying and terrifying.”

On directing:

Bruce spoke about the leeway he gives actors with his script. “It’s the closest thing to working with a dead playwright – I get out of the way,” he laughed.

On performing in Wilmington / “off-off Broadway”:

“We don’t withhold one molecule, no matter where we are,” Peter said. “New York City is where the big guys are, but we want to get better each night.”

Ian, who lives in Philadelphia, talked about how much he enjoys performing close to home – a sentiment echoed by Bud Martin, whose commute to DTC from his Pennsylvania home is the shortest he’s had.

On what’s next for the cast of “The Outgoing Tide”:

The cast, crew and set head to New York City for a run off-Broadway. After all, as Michael said, “Heaven is a stage show in New York City.”

On behalf of the Delaware audience, thanks for bringing a piece of that heaven to Wilmington!

“The Outgoing Tide” ends its run at the Delaware Theatre Company on October 28. To learn more about the show, check out this video by Content Delaware and a recent feature in the News Journal.

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