FROM WHITE PLAINS, running again this weekend at Xavier University, is a regional premiere play directed by Craig Wesley Divino. Divino, a New York based actor, musician, fight choreographer, and co-artistic direct of Fault Line Theatre, sat down with us to talk about this remarkable show.
Tell us just a little about your background?
I grew up just outside of London and going to the theatre was something my family and I did very regularly. I’ve also always been interested in storytelling, in all mediums, including the very geeky ones (comic books, video games, etc). I’ve always wanted to tell stories; theatre has turned out to be where I do that best.
You’re the co-founder and co-artistic director of Fault Line Theater Company in New York City. Tell us more about Fault Line?
Aaron Rossini, a classmate of mine at Brown, Tristan Jeffers, a Trinity Rep set designer and myself founded Fault Line Theatre in 2010. We started the company with a couple of classical productions, Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus and then an original musical version of Aristophanes’ Frogs, and have since moved into the production of new plays. This season we have two world premieres: “The Faire,” a new play by Crystal Finn that is currently playing at the Fourth Street Theatre, and then in “March Breathing Time,” a new play by “House of Cards” writer Beau Willimon.
FROM WHITE PLAINS debuted in New York City. Can you talk about the development of the original work and your involvement in it?
The whole thing started because we wanted to work with Michael Perlman. We looked at a few plays, but ultimately decided to go with an idea that he had for an original work, which was the Oscar speech that sets off the action of “From White Plains.” We got the actors together a few times between January and May 2012 to talk about character and story, and then just started rehearsal. Michael wrote the bulk of the play during our four week rehearsal process, with contributions in the form of ideas and some pieces of writing from the actors. The presence of so many points of view in the room as the Michael wrote the play is in part what makes it so complex. The first production was off-off-Broadway at La Tea on the Lower East Side; we then moved it to the Pershing Square Signature Center on 42nd St for an off-Broadway run. It has since been performed in Boston, Ithaca (with the original cast), and is running in Chicago right now.
How did you connect with Xavier in order to bring this play to Cincinnati?
I play “Nephew Fred” in Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park’s “A Christmas Carol.” Stephen Skiles, the head of the BA Theatre program at Xavier University plays “Mr. Sosser,” and we were chatting backstage about Fault Line Theatre and what we were up to. He read “From White Plains” and immediately asked for the rights to do it at Xavier.
What has it been like working with the students in the show?
It’s been a real pleasure on a couple levels. It’s great to approach “From White Plains” as just a play, starting from scratch and leaving the previous production behind. I came into the process without a concrete plan for how I wanted this production to look or feel: I wanted that to come from the students, both actors and designers. After spending two years with this play, on and off, it’s been great to watch it come to life in the bodies and voices of four new people.
The four actors do a beautiful job with an emotionally charged script. What do you hope people take away from seeing the play?
The goal of this play is to present four people and give voice to their needs and points of view. Our hope is that it starts conversations and makes people ask questions. There’s a talkback after every performance with the actors, so I hope that people will choose to participate in that.
This is my MUST SEE pick of the week. FROM WHITE PLAINS runs Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 7:30. Tickets are available here.