The star of the new play at Long Wharf just might turn out to be this three-week old Connecticut-born lamb named Edie.
And in an exclusive interview, she gave the Independent the scoop.
She has two big scenes in the now-classic play, in which the refrigerator on stage is frequently open and the characters hunger not just for food, but for the dreams and means to scrape their way into the middle class. They hunger as well to discover their deeper human identity and what price must be paid.
Obviously, you need a lamb.
Edie is on stage, mainly in her crib, with human star Judith Ivey and other fine actors for a full 20 minutes.
Alas, as the play ends, she is slaughtered offstage (in the script, not in real life).
Might that represent innocence lost? Or something else?
Before she went into rehearsal the other day, Edie, through her handler Schuyler Beeman, consented to try to answer those and other questions as she tucked in her four legs and sat down with the Independent for her first interview ever:
Independent: Edie, can you tell me a little about your bio, where you live now, and if you have had theatrical experience before Curse?
Edie: Considering I’m only 20 days old, of course I don’t have other theater experience. I was discovered where I was born, on a farm in Kensington, Connecticut. This is my debut. Schuyler here chose me, in part for my good looks, and also because I am an orphan and need a mom. He’s my mom.
Independent: And you live with him when you’re not acting?
Edie: Yes. I live in his room in Guilford, at his home where he lives with his parents. It’s all very cozy. [Beeman works with the animal trainer William Berloni, who got started training the dog Sandy in Annie. ]
Independent: I understand you have two scenes for a total of about 20 minutes. You are carried in and out but spend most of the time in your crib. How’s that?
Edie: As a lamb, I learn about the world basically through chewing. I like cuddling up to Schuyler’s old T-shirts and one old Docksider. They are in my crib and make me feel warm and at home. I’m a baby, and I’m happy to say that Schuyler and everyone else here on the Long Wharf staff and the cast, well, they all are babying me. They tell me that as a result I’m doing very well.
Independent: William Berloni, who works with Schuyler, told me “I keep reminding people it’s like [how you treat] a 19 day-old infant, and the expectations are same as a human baby. We’re focused on making sure it’s [that is, you are] warm and happy, and it’s quiet on stage.” He says when they fulfill your needs in this way, then you act, or do what’s asked of you. Do you think this is a fair assessment?
Independent: Do you have a speaking part as it were?
Edie: I don’t have any lines, but, yes, sometimes I like to chime in. I ba-a-a. I bleat from the crib, especially if there’s a loud noise or if the actors raise their voices. Even though I’m young, if they shout—because, well, this family is pretty messed up—I shout too. And, you know, they riff off what I do. It’s all very creative.
Independent: Sounds as if you and the actors are getting along well.
Edie: I love it. The actors pet me. They let me nibble their clothes. [Note: Edie also was interested in the reporting profession, particularly the Independent reporter’s notebook and his corduroy pants.]
Independent: What do you do when you’re not on stage, Edie?
Edie: I’m a baby; I have a lot of energy. Schuyler takes me out of the crib and I run about. I like spending time in my dressing room. The education department is sharing their space with me.
Independent: Food is a real character in this play. The dad Weston fills the refrigerator up with artichokes at the beginning. At the end, when he emerges from an alcoholic stupor, life is so grand he decides to make ham and eggs for his son Wesley. Groceries come and go—mainly go. Then, toward the end of the play, the lamb character, played by you, of course, gets—well, now please don’t get upset—but your character gets slaughtered. What do you think that’s a symbol of?
Edie: Well, I’m a symbol of ... gee, aren’t I too young to know much about this symbol business? But, sure, let me see: I’m a symbol of patience, of innocence. I give the play a context about food, where our—or rather since I’m a vegetarian, where your—food comes from to get to the plate.
Independent: What do you want people to take away from your performance?
Edie: I want theatergoers to understand: If you choose to eat meat, this is where it comes from—namely, me.
Independent: Do you expect to be doing more plays after Curse of the Starving Class concludes?
Edie: No, I don’t think so. And I want to add that I won’t be eaten. I’m living out my life on the farm. Schuyler tells me they’re looking for a home for me on a farm, with green hills. I’d like to stay in Connecticut so I can get to visit with my mom [Schuyler]. After the play’s over, I have no problem just returning to being a sheep.
Independent: Thanks, Edie. Break a leg.