Q: What attracts you to Bess’ work?
Jackson: I’ve known Bess since graduate school, she was an actor when I was in the directing program, and what I love about her writing is she has this great ability to just watch and listen to people and find these funny things that people do without trying to be funny, in just everyday mundane stuff. Her writing is full of compassion for human beings, but it also finds the humor in what we all do. In all of Bess’ plays that I’ve read, or directed, or acted in, they all have to do with people wanting very much to be seen and the funny ways they go about to make that happen.
Q: What drew you to Grand Horizons in particular?
Jackson: The line jumping out at me is “I’m not dead yet”. I love that about [Grand Horizons]. In some ways it’s like a coming of age story, but the characters are in their 70s. The second they move into an independent living senior facility, that’s the moment they start acting out and going on their journey…Bill says that several times “I’m not dead yet”. That’s like a call to action. It’s not too late to find love, it’s not too late to get what you want. It’s a reminder to constantly check in with yourself, your friends, your significant other to find what it is you actually want and voice it. I like that people are embracing that it’s never too late to find out who you are.
Q: How do you hope this production can surprise your audience, or play with their expectations?
Jackson: This play falls in the canon of great American plays about the American family. I think the audience will be shocked that Nancy at 70-something gets to a place where she talks about such intimate and sexual things so open and freely. For the character of Bill I think, his character is being forced to put himself out there - make himself vulnerable. This guy is always a bridesmaid and never a bride. He’s made that true for himself – playing second fiddle, always in the background. He’s Nancy’s husband, not her first love. I hope those kinds of things are shocking.
I think in the end when Nancy says to the kids, after they’ve had emotional breakdowns over all that’s happened; “I don’t think we’ve been clear; we don’t want you here.” That is really shocking to hear. To hear a parent basically say to their children, “Yeah it wasn’t perfect, but you just have to grow up and start dealing with your own lives.” I think that will be really shocking to audiences, but in a great way that we can all understand.