The Beauty of Small Theaters: My Experience Seeing A Month in the Country

When I first heard that Taylor Schilling would be starring in the off Broadway play, A Month in the Country, I thought, “Oh my god. I have to see it. It’s in New York City. Four hours away from me. And they’re playing shows during my winter break! Perfect.”

I became a huge fan of Taylor Schilling’s when I first saw her in Orange Is The New Black. It was last October. I had just received a Netflix account. When I first signed in, the first show that appeared was Orange Is The New Black. Was it fate? I don’t know, maybe!

So naturally, I had to watch the show. And I ended up binge-watching Season 1 in an entire day. Then Season 2 over the course of two weeks (I would’ve binge-watched it an entire day, but blame college for getting in the way, ugh). It was amazing. I was intrigued by the vulnerable, yet manipulative Piper Chapman, played by Taylor Schilling. And Taylor’s acting was on point. Absolutely on point.

I was suddenly a huge fan of hers.

When I went to the Classic Stage Company’s website, I saw that two seats were available in the second row for the 2pm show on January 14, 2015. Perfect. I would be two effing rows away from Taylor Schilling! I was so excited. This could actually happen. And the tickets seemed relatively inexpensive. Perfect. My parents would be more inclined to take me.

Yessssssss.

However, I really had to convince them the play was worthwhile. My mom wasn’t going to drive me four hours to see a play in the middle of the day. But, once I mentioned Peter Dinklage was in it, my mom suddenly looked up from her computer. She was sold.

Just when I thought everything was dandy, my mom asked about accessibility. Would the play be captioned? Are you going to be able to understand the actors? How are you going to follow along?

Well shit, I wasn’t thinking about that. I was thinking about the fact that I would be ten feet about from Taylor Schilling!

Nonetheless, I went to the website to check for live captioning. I didn’t find anything. But, I thought, “You know what, I don’t care if there isn’t anything there. I’ll do all my research online. I’ll find out what the play is about, try to familiarize myself with the lines. No problem. I can do this.” That was the fan girl in me speaking.

My mother knew I would get bored if I couldn’t follow along. She was right. One of the biggest struggles about being deaf is that frustrating inability to understand people from a distance or within a simple grasp. As someone who likes to know and understand what’s going on, I agreed. But I really, really wanted to see the play.

Like duh, if you have the opportunity to see your favorite actress, you should probably take that opportunity…

I did lose hope though. If I couldn’t follow along, then I truly wouldn’t be a good audience member. I would feel fake and not truly there to support my favorite actress.

Unbeknownst to me, my dad managed to contact Gina, who handles the tickets for Classic Stage Company. He explained that his daughter, who is profoundly deaf, but hears with two Cochlear Implants, has expressed a strong interest in seeing Taylor Schilling’s play. He asked, “Was the show live-captioned?” Unfortunately, it wasn’t. But! Gina told him she could get me two front row seats, an emailed a copy of the transcript ahead of time, and a hard copy for during the play.

When my mom told me this, I couldn’t believe my deaf ears.

Front. Row. Seats. To. Taylor. Schilling’s. Play. I never thought this would happen. Suddenly, I was ten times more excited to see A Month In The Country.

Two days before the play, I read through the entire script. Wow. I expected to read incomprehensible, Shakespearean style sentences. Thank god this wasn’t the case. I actually enjoyed reading through the script. The play explores a family dynamic in the countryside of Russia. Schilling plays Natayla, a married woman who falls in love with her son’s tutor, Alexei, and Dinklage plays Rikitin, a man hopelessly in love with Natalya.

Flash forward to two days later. I’m in New York City, and I’m walking into the coffee shop that’s part of Classic Stage Company. The place appears small. But nonetheless, I was actually in the same building as Taylor Schilling.

I mean, seriously! I had just watched her three days earlier on the Golden Globe Awards! Do you guys remember when she yawned next to George and Amal Clooney? I was watching Clooney’s interview live, and could see Taylor in the corner, yawning, so unimpressed by Hollywood’s “Golden Couple”. It was hilarious!

Anyways, my mom and I finally met Gina, a very kind and extremely helpful lady, who handed us our reserved front row seats and binder containing the script. We waited around for ten minutes before someone announced the opening of the theater. It was time. And it was actually happening. This was real.

As I walked into the theater area, I was expecting the usual stage structure: the high-rise stage, orchestra below, and seats extending far back. But this was very different. The stage was literally the floor, guarded by three wooden barricades. I immediately felt this very intimate atmosphere. When my mom and I settled in our seats, I couldn’t believe how incredibly close we were. The U-shape set-up of the seating was perfect, especially for me. The closeness of the stage, the blunt openness of the stage. I would actually be able to lip-read the actors if I ever missed anything. AND Taylor would actually be like five feet away from me.

A Month in the Country stage
A Month in the Country stage

Twenty minutes later, the play began. I could see Taylor walking out from the right stage door. Holy shit, Piper Chapman’s right there.

All the characters settled in their positions. I was simply so excited to be there. But once I heard Anna, then Schaaf, then Lizaveta, then Natalya speak, I was shocked. Really, I was. I grew twenty times more excited to be at the play.

Why?

I could understand them. I could actually understand the actors.

I have never felt so involved and enthused by a play before. This was an entirely new feeling. I have been to many plays, but with every single one, I struggled in some way in understanding the actors. Either, I simply can’t follow along, or I’m constantly turning my head between the stage and the live captions.

But this one. This play. It was perfect. I could really understand everything, and to add to that, one of my favorite actresses was playing the lead. So, so, so, cool.

This is the very first time that I can say, without a doubt, that I absolutely, genuinely enjoyed the play. When Taylor first came up to the wooden barricade right in front of me, I thought, oh my god, she is real. Then Peter Dinklage came up, he’s real too! Everyone’s acting was absolutely on point. It was amazing. I never looked away from the stage.

The play even had a comical aspect. Reading the script, you would think the play would be very dramatic, and maybe dark. But the actors; they made it so, so entertaining, funny, and moving.

Once the play ended, I was so sad. Another two hours pleaseeee?

As my mom and I started walking out of the theater, I immediately recognized four actresses from Orange Is The New Black. Constance Shulman, Kimiko Glenn, Lin Tucci, and Laura Gomez. Oh my god. I saw them walk out into the coffee shop and two other girls bombarded them for pictures. I was so nervous that I didn’t build up the courage to ask one for a picture. I know, once in a lifetime opportunity, and I fudged it up.

But then two seconds later, I saw Taylor peek out the door. Holy shit, that’s Taylor Schilling. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I looked at my mom, and literally backed away. Seriously I shouldn’t have done that, but I was so intimidated by her presence. She immediately walked to Lin, and gave her a big hug, presumably thanking her for coming. Lin told Taylor she loved her, before Taylor had to rush back inside, and I thought, how sweet. It was amazing seeing them come out to support her. This only makes me love OITNB even more.

I did wait outside with a couple other diehards, hoping Taylor would come out. But she didn’t.

Nonetheless, I had an amazing time and A Month In The Country is a great play. I would absolutely see it again if I could. I highly recommend that if you’re ever in New York City between now and the end of February to go see it!! You will not regret it!

-Alanna

My mom and I waiting for the play to start!
My mom and I waiting for the play to start!
Classic Stage Company!
Classic Stage Company!

2 thoughts on “The Beauty of Small Theaters: My Experience Seeing A Month in the Country

  1. There is a Chekov play “Country Life” on Netflix streaming which is a modern version of Uncle Vanya if you are interested. Also, if you enjoy women’s prison stuff, there is an Aussie series, Wentworth, which “Orange” may have copied at bit. It is quite good and free with a mere click. Nice plot twists and characters one loves to hate.

    Like

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