Hot 'n' Throbbing
By Paula Vogel
Directed by Paul Mulcahy
Celebrated playwright Paula Vogel (The Baltimore Waltz, How I Learned to Drive) premiered this play two months before the murder of Nicole Simpson. It tells--and shows--the story of a woman who writes feminist 'erotica,' her teenage son and daughter, and the estranged husband who comes to call. A savagely funny and disturbing investigation of sexual violence, with none of the comforting distance of a movie screen.
Recommended for adult audiences only.
Produced by Marcy Weiland for Mercury Players at Brave Hearts Theater, 1988 Atwood Ave. At Schenks Corners, corner 2nd St. and Winnebago, next to Wonders Pub
Thur Fri Sat Sun October 1
Admission: $8.00. Reservations: 249-9299
For more information call Paul Mulcahy (director), 255-9251, or Marcy Weiland (producer), 251-1886.
The Story of the Play
Hot 'n' Throbbing is set in two worlds: the imaginary Foxy Lady nightclub, and Charlene's living room. The action of the play unfolds in both locations simultaneously.
Charlene is a writer who works at home. Her company specializes in erotica for women. It's a Friday night, her daughter and son have gone out, and she struggles to finish her screenplay.
Watching over her as she works are two figures in their nightclub booths. The Voice Over is a stripper, prompting her with ideas for movie scenes. The Voice is the club DJ and proprietor, who interjects unwelcome commentary in the voice of 19th century sexologist Krafft-Ebing, and literary references from Henry Miller, D.H. Lawrence, and James Joyce.
Suddenly there is a new intruder: Charlene's ex-husband, Clyde. Defying a court order, he breaks into the house and begins to bully Charlene, who promptly takes out a gun and shoots him. Having taken control of the situation, she tends to Clyde's injury, and they talk. But her own mixed feelings undermine her resolve, and an old, familiar pattern between Charlene and Clyde takes over.
About the Play
Playwright Paula Vogel wrote Hot 'n' Throbbing in 1990 in response to the National Endowment for the Arts' anti-obscenity pledge engineered by Senator Jesse Helms. In Vogel's introduction to the play, she writes:
I was interested to learn that ``obscene'' came from the Greek, for ``offstage.'' Violence in the Greek theater was kept ``offstage'': Platforms on wheels brought the bodies onstage to show the outcome, rather than the act. We have abdicated our responsibility for showing the results of violence to film, which all too often fetishisizes the act rather than its impact. At a time when the Simpson trial became a media frenzy, my play itself has been kept ``offstage''--many artistic directors have told me that it is too disturbing; audiences won't want to ``see that onstage'' (the same audiences that pack Pulp Fiction); or that the play is anti-pornography; or that the play is pro-pornography.
Plays, on any subject, are often an attempt to understand from the inside, to get at how a situation feels. Hot 'n' Throbbing is that kind of play. The playwright does not tell the playgoer what to think; instead, she invites us to experience. The question about the ``issues'' of pornography and sexual violence is shifted, from ``Is this right or wrong?'' to ``What is this?'' ``How does it work?'' ``Why?'' Though undisputed answers are not possible, the play creates situations in which we as observers can dwell, so that these questions can occur to us, and the potential for understanding can grow.
About the Playwright
PAULA VOGEL recently won the 1998 Pulitzer Price for her extraordinary play How I Learned to Drive (to be produced by the Madison Rep in November). Previously, Vogel won a 1992 Obie Award for Best New American Play for The Baltimore Waltz. Her plays have been produced by American Repertory Theatre (which staged the first production of Hot 'n' Throbbing, in 1994), Circle Repertory Theatre, Center Stage and Yale Repertory Theatre, as well as throughout the United States and abroad.
SARAH AUSTIN (Voice Over) was last seen in Mercury Players' Temp Slave, the Musical as Violet and Mistress Mona. She also played Maude Mix in A Coupla White Chickc Sitting Around Talking and directed ``Lay of the Land'' in The Mercury Players Love Fest. Her favorite role to date is Anne Marie Hauptmann in Broom Street Theater's Case of the Nazi Professor.
DAMON BUTLER (Boy) most recently appeared in First Banana's Dogs of the Blue Gods. He has acted in Mercury Players' Holiday Pageant, Night of Horror, Love Fest, and Temp Slave, as well as Madison Theatre Guild's Dracula. Previously, he acted in a number of productions at the Station Theatre in Champaign, Illinois.
BRENDA HEDING (Charlene) was Cherie in Bus Stop at Strollers Theatre, Elizabeth in Laundry and Bourbon and M'Lynn in Steel Magnolias, both with Mazomanie R & R, and Florence in The Odd Couple at Middleton Players Theatre. She has also done commercial work as an actor. This is her Mercury Players debut.
CRAIG JACOBSON (Clyde) most recently played Oberon in CTM's Midsummer Night's Dream. He has also recently appeared in Strollers' Camping with Henry and Tom, After Play, and Buried Child, as well as various film and television projects. Craig has a Master of Fine Arts in acting from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and has studied and taught extensively. This is his Mercury debut.
CARRIE LEVIN (assistant director/movement consultant) comes from Chicago, where she worked with such companies as Blind Parrot Productions and Lifeline Theatre. She works as a dance movement therapist at Hancock Center for movement arts and therapies.
REBEKAH MILLS (Girl) acted in numerous productions in her native Chattanooga, Tennessee, and in Bloomington, Indiana, where she studied theater at the University of Indiana. Her play Carol was produced in Bloomington in 1996. This is her Mercury Players debut.
PAUL MULCAHY (director) most recently directed Fool for Love for CATCO/Millenium here in Madison, and previously acted in Strollers' Beau Jest. In his native Chicago, he worked for many years as actor, director, and designer. This is his first production with Mercury Players.
PETE J.J. SELBO (Voice) most recently appeared in First Banana's Blitzbreeker and the Chicken from Hell. He has acted in Mercury Players' Beirut, Escape from Happiness, and most recently the Love Fest, for which he wrote and starred in ``Stick to Your Guns.'' He has also appeared in Broom Street Theater's Buck Mulligan's Revenge and The Legend of Pinkbeard: Pirate of Men, and Happening Here with Tap-It.