Paul DeCordova and Dawn Brodey.
Photo courtesy Workhaus Collective
Alan Berks latest play with the Workhaus Collective dives deep into the political heart of America and The Great Divide between left and right.
"If anyone is at all interested in politics, it will boil your blood. But there is definitely personal stuff. One of the many ingredients he will put into the plot is that he will talk to us about our personal lives and those will their way into the play," says Paul DeCordova, who plays a right-wing political candidate.
"Generally speaking, the director [Ellen Fenster], Alan, Paul, and I all share political viewpoints. The topics [the characters] discuss are almost exclusively political, but the play is not designed to convert anyone with any particular viewpoint," says Dawn Brodey, who plays a left-wing Twin-Cities political blogger.
"It addresses that question of what do you do with people you don't agree with. In Minnesota, that is not a comfortable experience. It also deals with morality, and how that is affected by and influences your political leanings. What do you think is the right thing to do? What is morally right? What is the morally right thing to do will affect your political choices," DeCordova says.
"An element in this play is the presumption that in a debate, if you just saw things the way I do then you would agree with me. We don't realize that when people disagree with you they fundamentally see it differently than you do," Brodey says. "You feel differently than I feel. No amount of information will change that."
The show only runs this weekend as a workshop production. It's more than a staged reading -- there are costumes, sets, and lights -- but the rehearsal period has been shorter and the script is still in considerable flux.
"The writer is still in process. Still figuring things out. It is more of a laboratory for him. For us, it's exciting and a high-wire act. Will I remember what Alan wrote yesterday?" Brodey says.
"About a month ago, Alan had 10 to 12 pages of script. We would work on those pages. A lot of those 12 pages, in one way or another, survived until now. It's been about finding out where to go from there," DeCordova says.
With the changes, the script "generally has stayed on the same track. The bulk of the changes have been to the ending," Brodey says.
The goal is not to make it a shouting match between people of different political bents. "There are moments of connection over human things. At a human level we can believe in things and not be adversarial," DeCordova says.
Part of that comes from the dynamic of the play. DeCordova's character is an underdog congressional candidate, while Brodey is a political journalist. That means there has to be a current of professionalism between the two, even if it does eventually delve into hotter territory.
"I hope audiences go away with a new sympathy for the other side," Brodey says.
IF YOU GO
The Great Divide
8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, 7 p.m. Sunday
The Playwrights' Center,
2301 E. Franklin St., Minneapolis
$18 (all performances pay what you can)
For more information and tickets, call 1.800.838.3006 or visit online.