Reflections from Ray

When my full time academic career ended over a year ago, I began dreaming about what a renewed career as an independent Hamilton artist might look like.

A few months later, when the offer of a part in Whale Fall was made, I began to see a way forward, working with people I knew and respect deeply. Stephen and I had worked together bringing playwriting skills to students and Aaron Craig is a former student – now a director and dramaturg in his own right. I’d seen Stephanie in a beautiful production of Mary’s Wedding a few years ago. While I knew the people though, I hadn’t worked as a peer with them. I was intimidated and I still am, a little.

Ray and Stephanie discuss a scene in rehearsal for Whale Fall.

I wish I could say that being an actor again, after years of talking about it, has been sweet, and easy. It has been beautiful but it’s been hard too. The play demands honesty. It requires emotional presence. It requires love, and it draws me into risky territory. “Beautiful and daunting” is how Stephanie and I have characterized the play.

Whale Fall strikes me, primarily, as a father/daughter love story. It brings us into the joy and the playfulness of the relationship but it also asks us to experience their flaws. It asks whether love can transcend death and even if it can teach us about eternity. I think that Stephen has also suggested with the script that we need plays and ceremonies to grapple with the anxiety of our time – anxiety about the environment, about death and about eternity. It gives me hope, in a way that I hadn’t anticipated.

Ray and Stephanie in a scene for Whale Fall

Finding hope and joy onstage, in so many beautiful risky moments, with an actor like Stephanie Hope Lawlor is truly one of the great experiences of my career. She’s the best. And so is Aaron. And Stephen. Great people, all.

Whale Fall premieres at the Hamilton Conservatory for the Arts as part of the Hamilton Fringe Festival and runs from July 21-31. Tickets can be purchases in advanced HERE.

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