So I'd like to introduce Emma Messenger who gave a fantastic performance as Maria. >> Thank you. >> Wonderful work. And as I understood, it's your third time playing. >> This is actually my third time. >> That's amazing. >> Well, not really if you consider how much Shakespeare has done, how much this play. >> Fair. >> In particular is such a popular choice to do. And then for somebody like me a character actress. Mariah is pretty much it unless you're going to do cross standard casting of roles. So this was kind of my slot and I did it first in college, like in 1988 or something like that. And then, I did it immediately as I got out of college for an American stage in St. Petersburg, Florida, which is a small professional theatre and they did that an outdoor Shakespeare in the Park. >> Cool. >> Yeah. So it was really interesting how quickly the lines came back because it had been. [LAUGH] >> And, I think that's partly due to just Shakespeare's language and the richness, the rhythms of it. >> Sure. >> And the clarity of that character to me, it's very easily accessible So. >> That's great. Well, I definitely want to know- >> It wasn't actually too much work but- >> why she's so easily, I'd like to hear you talk about that but first I want to ask you to share a little bit about your work as an actor and what has drawn you to Shakspere and performance and what your experience has been. >> Well, I actually haven't done that much Shakespere. It's pretty much been Mariah. [LAUGH] so this my. >> And you're in Romeo and Juliet. >> I've done Romeo and Juliet, yes. So I, I got a degree in theater much to my parents chagrin and went to work for a small professional theatre company got my equity card. And met my first husband, went to Los Angeles, and we had gotten married and then we had a baby and theater was done for me. And it was a disastrous marriage personally and I just, I was a single mom for years and years. And then I met my second husband, who was absolutely lovely, and the love of my life. >> Awesome. >> And he wanted more children, so there was something about just motherhood for me, that killed all my ambitions to be an actor. I just wanted to be a mom, and I was, and it was great, but kids grow up. And so then, I sort of remembered this other love of mine, and we had left Los Angeles and we're living in Colorado, we had moved out here about nine years ago. And I thought, you know, I'll never act again. There is more theater in Denver, and the surrounding area, great opportunities. And so I have just had a wonderful time playing. >> You've been working non stop. >> Yeah, it's been wonderful and had always wanted to come out and work here, but had always been booked at the time too far ahead. And anyway, this is all worked out this year, so. That's excellent. It's been a magical experience to come and work here. >> It's been great having you here. >> Thank you. >> So, so talk to me about Mariah and what you've learned about her and what she's taught you. I'm interested to hear more about >> I think I'm better at playing Mariah then I was 30 years ago, and to me that says she's, there's a maturity that sits well on her. And I'm easy in that kind of older woman role now in a way that, >> I probably had a great time 30 years ago, but this was really, this sounds a lot more ease more easily to me. She's, as women were, when this play was written, there was not a lot of opportunities and let's face it, these people are living on an island in the middle of the sea. There's not a lot of opportunity. I think the main force for me behind Mariah is just this really fierce intelligence. That is she has got nowhere to put that down. And she's working as a servant. And is very much at the beck and call of, in my judgment, a rather indulgent lady who is really giving over to her grief. In a way that this household is no fun and I think the second sort of force for Mariah is just a real joyfulness in life. Joie de vivre that she enjoys a good joke. >> Yeah. >> And I sort of thought this was a very body rendition where in other productions, Mariah has perhaps been more restrained or prudish, but I just found she was at a point at least in my life now. She wasn't going to put up with any of that. >> Yeah. >> And if Toby is going to Bring in this drunken nights and tell him to a cost Mariah. Mariah is going to give as good as she gets back >> Yeah >> Uh-hm, so. >> Well, I love how you talk about these two forces >> Yeah >> Because there is this kind of duality isn't there with her that she's in. Sort of a servant role and when we think that that would be limiting or restricting. We also see this other side of her and she has a great deal of agency in the mayhem. >> Yes, she is the architect. >> Yeah. >> And that she doesn't use it. This is what I love about Mariah is it's an intelligence but it's a subtle intelligence. She's very subtle. >> Yeah. >> And if you just look at the letter that she writes and it's a she writes two letters, the first letter she's written, goes to a Senal, which you don't really pick up on but Valentine comes in and he reads the letter. That I believe Mariah has written about her mistress going to be in mourning for seven years. So we're coming from a really repressed gloomy household. >> Yeah. >> And I think she's been very well behaved. She's tried to keep Toby and that whole scene under control and not bothering Olivia. It's not working but and she gets threatened by Malvolio. She not only gets threatened to get in trouble in the caterwauling scene, but Toby is threatened to be kicked out. And I think she believes Toby is her key out of this gloom and doom. So if Toby is threatened, her future is threatened. And that's the catalyst that makes her take action with setting up the whole trick. But there's lots of tricks in this play. >> Yeah, >> I mean, the whole Violet scheme is a treat. Everybody right? Olivia even pretend that Cesario has given her a ring. You know, I mean there's tricks and tricks and tricks. I mean, Toby is constantly playing tricks. So, it's not that she's doing anything so far. Out of the ordinary >> Right. >> I think that it just gets taken too far. I don't think she means to be as cruel as it ends up being. But it's a way of stopping Malvolio, who was really a serious threat. >> So and you're sort of anticipating a question I had which is what is the sort ,what is it the root of that antagonism. And what you're saying is he threatens your >> Future. >> Job security >> Definitely her job security because he says she shall know of it by this hand, meaning he's going to go and tell Olivia. All the shenanigans that they've been up to make a complaint about Mariah and he specifically blames Mariah for Toby's behavior and all this thinking etc says this doesn't look well on you, at least that's the way we chose to interpret it. In this production, so she's going to be blamed for not controlling all these shenanigans. And then Toby is going to be thrown out. And if Toby has to leave the island, which there's, really not much choice, not mine. There's nowhere else for him to go. It's very contained. Take place, then then really she's got no escape. Not just out of her servitude, but out of perhaps this island to begin with in my mind There are several things that lead me to believe that Mariah was not always of the servant class. For one thing, she is literate, she can read and she writes really well. And not only does she write well, her handwriting is very much like Olivia's now. Is her handwriting like Olivia's, because she's a good forger or is it just that I just remember in school everybody in seventh grade all the girls wrote the same way. >> Mm hmm >> So it tells me that wherever she learned to write Yeah. It was that style. >> Right. >> So she's either learned it, somehow she's learned it and but but that to me says that was time to actually learn to read time to learn to write. She must have been of a higher status than just the servant. She is now. Also, the way she talks to Toby is in a very familiar manner. >> And the way Toby talks to me. >> And the way Toby talks to her. And she also puts down Sir Andrew to Toby. >> Right. >> Which I don't think she wouldn't find that such a casual choice to make to talk about Sir Andrew a night of Toby's class and put him down if she wasn't, you know, very familiar with that, and at ease with that kind of society, so I think she's looking to get back in To where she was, which to me is a more interesting story than just a social climber. If there was something that was lost, there's always more. >> Makes me want to see the prequel. [LAUGH] I want to write >> What happened. >> But it does make sense I was having a conversation with Robert particular, >> Yeah. >> About Toby and how he is very aware of class. And one of the reasons he doesn't like mouthful he says you're just a steward, right? >> Yes. Yes, that's a reminder. >> But that doesn't seem to bother him, >> About Mariah. >> Yeah, about Mariah. >> No, not at all. >> I mean, >> That well, >> You're very In fact, >> Yes, she wins she gets what she wanted. The the problem with Mavlio is that he's seeking something because they're both seeking the same thing Mariah and I will do is to move up right? >> Yeah. >> Maybe Mariah is moving back maybe now there's nothing in the text that says that, but because it's so underwritten, you can take a suggestion and [CROSSTALK] to do that, right? Malvolio is putting other people down to get ahead, and. >> And already behaving as though he is. >> There's an arrogance there? >> Yeah. >> There's a clear arrogance, and then he starts threatening people, so there's reason to act. There's a justification there. And it's so clever the way the way she does it, because she doesn't say, Malvolio, Olivia's in love with you. She doesn't say here's a letter to you, Malvolio. She just uses his correct ability and his vanity to get to him. >> Yeah >> She never says novel she says mo ai. I mean if you look at what is written in that letter, it's so subtle >> Yeah >> and so smart because she pushes all his buttons. Without taking him you know by the nose and >> Its like yo or something >> Yes it's quite it's quite nuanced and and yet here's my problem with this character is that she doesn't get the credit for it as a character in the play. She is part of the gang of comics. She's not funny. She gets no lines that are just an automatic. >> But the buttery burn. >> If you but it doesn't it was funny the way we did it. >> Yeah. >> But it's not an it's such an archaic joke. >> Yeah, and I totally get your point. >> Yeah. >> Right. >> And but all she, she [CROSSTALK] [LAUGH] she dropped we could talk about that because I love that moment. But she drops the letter and she sent off stage. She doesn't get to be part of the whole hiding in the box tree >> Right >> Or anything like that. So she really does. She's the architects of this subplot. But she doesn't necessarily get the benefit she's the woman behind the man, Toby, that make this happen. >> Yeah. >> But as an actor, you have to recognize you're the straight man. In the situate, you don't get to be the fool. You don't get to be the one who's laughed at who's ridiculous like Andrew and novel Leo to certain degrees. You don't get all the punch lines that Toby gets. And you're pretty much just the straight man and you have to sort of be at peace with that. I think, >> Well architect that's a really accurate and powerful word, I think. >> Yes. >> For who she is. >> She's clever. >> Yeah. >> She's really clever. She's the smartest person on the stage. I think. Yeah, >> I think a lot of the women in the play have an exercise agency. I mean, >> Yes! >> Olivia, as a strong, independent single woman. >> Who is able to choose her own husband. >> Right! But wasting it. She's Wait, she's going to be seven years she's going to be in mourning. Right. And I think that's a source of frustration for- >> For Mariah. Yes say more about that. >> Note, well, there's no minds that that expressed this, but it just goes to that whole sort of being really trapped here. And yearning to get out of this gloom and doom household that's all in this indulgent grief that's been going on for too long now. So I think Mariah actually likes it when cesario comes and kind of, >> Yeah. >> Disturbs Olivia. >> Yeah. I think that's, she's not going to go and rescue Olivia from that she thinks that's good for Olivia yet to kind of get woken up. I mean the play is called 12th night, but it it takes place over months. It's not It's not about Christmas, there's no- >> Yeah, but 12th night was the holiday when the rules were turned upside down >> The rules were turned upside down but it's also the Twilight. It's the end of the winter celebrations and you've got the rest of winter to get through. And I think they are in the 12th night of their lives,Toby and Mariah are not young. I think they could be played young but they're sort of, they seem to me that they're solidly older, and next generation of characters and times ticking. And if we're stuck here for seven years, no fun. That's going to be that frustration and the wastefulness of that, when life is going by. >> It's good stuff. So tell me about this relationship with sir Toby. >> Well, when I played Mariah when I was 18, I was convinced she was just seriously in love with Toby. Now I don't think so, [LAUGH] I don't think that's necessarily true. I think Toby is perhaps not the love of her life. He doesn't have to be. There's enough fondness there. And there's an appreciation for the sort of fun in life, that they'll probably have a pretty good marriage for as long as Toby lives but there's a caveat. There's a compatibility and an appreciation, a sort of mature appreciation for each other that I didn't sort of recognize when I was Young that is his now a much more comfortable with that. >> Well and say say more about that. Why isn't she in love with him? >> Why would she be? >> Right. >> I mean he's not charming, he's drunk all the time. He's not a happy person, even though he appreciates fun. He's in an unhappy situation just like all of them in that house are. So yeah. >> That's a really good point I mean I've always wondered that too you know. >> He's less than charming, isn't he? >> Well, he's kind of drinks a lot. >> He drinks a lot and he's not at his best, maybe she can get him to a place where he's better. >> Well, and that's so when, in my conversation with Robert about sir Toby, he had a couple of really interesting insights. One was he sort of tied the drinking to his being a veteran and also, this is how he deals with grief, in a household where there's grieving happening. >> Right >> You know, recent losses. Alcohol has been a way to ignore or distract from the grief but he believes he said I want a happy ending for this guy. >> Yeah, >> I want to believe that in the sequels, you know, in 13 he cleans up. >> And I think that's entirely possible, I think- >> Yeah, but I'm hearing you say that Maria is a bit of a hedonist and what they have in common is that they like fun and that their body and then >> Mariah doesn't drink though, >> Right. >> Mariah is trying to put a stop to his drinking. What they both have in common is they is a love for cake and ale >> Right. >> An appreciation for the sweetness that can be found in life. And I think they've been stuck on this island in this gloomy household. And if she can get him, even at the end of the play, you think there's chance for happiness for everybody? except perhaps Malvolio that Olivia's, well on the way to be mended by this whole invasion of these youthful twins who come in and everybody falls in love with them. Everybody falls in love with those twins. And what is it that so special about them? Is it just that it's somebody new? I mean how often do people come to this island, how often do people get off this island? And you know, it's sort of the island of indulgent emotions you've got are seen as household this just wasting time pursuing this woman who is never going to go for him, >> Right. >> And all of the energy of that household is bent chasing this woman. >> Yeah. >> And then there's Olivia just chasing this grief. >> Yeah. >> And they're just circling, stuck, so it I think these two twins coming is sort of the key to unlocking everybody's escape hatch, from this. >> Yeah, wow. >> [LAUGH] >> So you think that, that it could be a good marriage? >> I think it could be. I think there's, I think when you get to that age or perhaps for me, it's a second marriage, there's often a great deal of, you've shared this idea of romantic love. And not that there isn't tremendous romance in my marriage right now. But you have much more of an idea of what's truly going to sustain you over time. We're also doing Romeo and Juliet and I'm so impatient with those two. >> [LAUGH] >> Teenagers who I think are really misbehaving, but if that's an older person. >> Over infatuation. >> Exactly. I don't think Mariah is infatuated with Toby, but I think there's an appreciation. For a better life together. >> Yeah, that's great. >> [LAUGH] >> So talk about some of your favorite moments in the play. You mentioned the buttery button moment. >> I love the battery bar moment because I think we were successful. In taking that Archaic joke which is really about it's like it's a dry jest because it would be played by a man who would have no chest no bosom. So when he says it's a dry jest everybody in the audience thinks that's hilarious. Clearly I can't pull that off, so to say to, so I just, sometimes you do Shakespeare and you just can immerse yourself in the language and the rhythm and all that great stuff and not have to worry and I took that moment and sort of applied more modern techniques to have it make sense to me. So what is that moment really about psychologically? And, If you look at it, Toby has just truly insulted her by saying to Sir Andrew, a cost her, you know, jump on her >> Right. And it's a way of teasing Andrew but it set Mariah as expense. And he did that to her. >> Yeah. >> And maybe a younger woman would have run out of the room, you know, in tears, or been really offended in a way that she couldn't recover from. And I think Mariah chose instead and said no, Toby, I'll up you one. >> Yeah. Okay, you're going to offer me up I'll offer myself up. >> Yeah. >> And see how you like that to this sniveling don't try to pull this sexual aggression. >> Yeah. >> Card and embarrass me. I play it right back and I'll better you. And I think that's what she does. So- >> That's how it reads. >> Yeah. >> To me, that's what that's really about. It isn't so much about being body. But about being courageous and down to earth to me >> and knowing how to win >> knowing how to win and knowing I will go there and she establishes that in that very first scene and and I love that, that there's a she gets the better of both of them. Yeah so. There's a pattern there [LAUGH] >> Yeah, and a strength. >> And a strength. Yes. And a clarity of what's really important and reminding Toby of that, sort of calling him out on it. >> That's great. >> Yeah. You mentioned earlier, the cruelty. >> Yes. >> And then it escalates. >> Yes. >> I mean, so because I'm hearing you sort of talk about a character who is very much in control. >> Yes she is. >> And then the cruelty seems to get away from her. >> Yes. >> Can you talk about that? >> Yes. >> Why the escalation and why can't you stop it? So Toby is I mean sorry Malvolio is a real threat. >> Yeah yeah >> They are very dependent on Olivia, and things have not been going well. With Toby and Olivia. >> Right. >> And if Toby gets chucked out, Mariah might get reprimanded, but if Toby gets chucked out that's she's going to be there and have no friends in that household. So the threat is real. The response to that threat is very clever and subtle, but it gets taken over by Toby. >> Yeah >> Toby is the one who says we'll have him in a cell unbound. And escalates it. >> Yeah. >> To the point that now I think Mariah is truly shocked when she sees Toby in that cage, sorry, Malvolio in that cage. >> Yeah. >> And this was not what was meant to happen. Toby always takes things too far. And and now it's got to stop. But she gets him she wins him. >> Hmm. >> And it's in that scene that he says come by and buy to my chamber. And that's all you get because it's. The lines just aren't there. You have to fill in the blanks yourself. And you can take that tiny line and the way it's directed, it can say, because that line could be to the fool. But to take it to Mariah and just say we've combined and all that sort of under swelling of emotion and intense and subtext is there come by and bites in my chamber and we'll you know, we'll run off and get married. And they don't even get to get married in front of anybody or anything it's just told Fabian just says, and he married her. >> Yeah. >> And that's it because they are just the subplot. They're just the subplot. >> But why do you think they're in the play? I mean I guess I just want to take a step back and and ask you what what is the play about. To you. >> I think it's about getting stuck in your emotions and taking things too far. I think Olivia is stuck in her grief. [INAUDIBLE] is stuck in his lust for her, or what he thinks is, you know his fascination with that chase. Toby is very much, you know, stuck in this sort of drunken party party party >> Mode. >> So, and time is ticking by. And I think if you look at the songs the fool sings a lot of them are about >> Come away dead. Come away death. This is it. We're not you know, we're not at noon here. We're not even in the afternoon. It's evening. >> I love this. They're, in the 12th night. >> They`re in the 12th night of their lives. And you've got to seize that moment, every moment that you have, and find the joy in it. Even Malvolio says what in that incredible scene where he's reading the letter he says, I will be happy. Meaning he hasn't been. >> Right. >> So he's going to turn over this new leaf, he's going to wear yellow stockings and he's going to be happy. He's going to find joy in life. >> Yeah >> And it's really sad that he doesn't actually get to but it just speaks to me that there is so much sadness and everybody willing to just accept that when you don't have to. And it's. >> Well it's really interesting how you because we. >> We've talked a lot about the different classes in the play. There's also different generations in the play. >> Yes. >> And you're really leaning into that in this conversation and these young people show up on the island. >> Yes. And it's like it's like this unleashing of a chance again is a breath of fresh air. >> Kind of a rebirth or something. >> That they bring. Yeah, this new opportunity to maybe do things right and most everybody gets that chance in this play. >> Not everybody, almost everybody. >> Not everybody. >> Yeah, that's great. That's great. >> [LAUGH] >> Thank you for your insights and >> It's been my pleasure. >> It's been great talking to you. >> Thank you.