Don’t miss the opening on July 21 of LOVE AND HUMAN REMAINS at the Peter Jay Sharp Theater at Playwrights Horizons. Brad Fraser (Queer As Folk) wrote this “edgy, provocative, dark-humored drama” about the intertwined lives of seven people; it delves deeply into human emotions, taking the audience on an emotional rollercoaster to places that are not easy to explore. Directed by Clyde Baldo and produced by Jen Rudolph, the play’s amazing cast includes Frances Brennand Roper, Zach McCoy, Kerri Lynn Miller, Nicholas Baroudi, Paul Castro Jr., Cassandra Paras and Dan Almekinder. GO recently did an exclusive Q&A with the producer, director and two of the cast members whose characters engage in an intensely erotic lesbian sex scene. Check it out!
GO: Without giving too much away, what makes LOVE AND HUMAN REMAINS such a provocative and sexy show?
Jen Rudolph: Brad Fraser takes no prisoners with this play. Working together with the director, Clyde Baldo, and through the seven characters, we venture into places that are so dark and primal that we can’t help but feel uncomfortable and turned on in the same breath. The sex scenes are steamy and our actors are fearless. [I think that] this play offers an unapologetic look into the suffering and deep sexual proclivities of its characters that are actually in all of us, if we really think about it.
What’s in store for lesbian viewers?
Jen Rudolph: One of the central story lines is between Candy (Kerri Lynn Miller)—a sexy, insecure, neurotic, straight woman who’s looking for love—and Jerri (Cassandra Paras), a Shane-from-the-L-Word, unhinged lesbian with swagger. Candy, in her pursuit of love, both seduces and allows herself to be seduced by Jerri. The two engage in a steamy interlude that results in Jerri becoming obsessed with Candy and desperately wanting Candy to love her. Being gay myself, I can certainly say that I’ve been there. I think most gay women have! We think it’s hot to go after a straight woman. Sometimes we feel compelled. What often starts out as a conquest can turn into a hunger for love from the wrong person. Jerri takes us through the raw emotions of this hunger/craving/obsession. We feel for her. We understand her. We live through her—the pleasure; the pain.
Kerri, you’re playing the role of Candy. Tell us about your character!
Kerri Lynn Miller: Candy is an insecure girl who hides behind a shiny exterior and relies on her sex appeal to feed her ego. Her drug is attention. She wants love and happiness, like we all do, but she always seems to lead with the wrong foot in her pursuit. Although she says she wants love, all her actions seem to sabotage any chance of that actually happening for her. Candy lost her best friend, Dana, to suicide years ago and has never been the same. It has affected all her relationships and turned her into a neurotic, compulsive woman. She has a co-dependent relationship with her gay roommate, David, whom she used to sleep with.
How is this role pushing your boundaries as an actor?
Kerri Lynn Miller: This is the first role that I’ve had where I have sex with a woman. The rehearsal process has been mind-bending. I’ve been placed in situations that I’ve never been in before and have had the opportunity to really explore this side of my human nature. I used to think that people are this or that, and it made it much cleaner to be able to put people in categories. [But] I’ve learned that labels suck, and it’s not about being gay or straight or bi; it’s more about the energy between two people, the given circumstances, their desires/addictions and finally their preference. My character, Candy, is fed by the attention she receives from Jerri and the control that she has over her. This turns her on, and they end up sleeping together. Even though it’s the best [sex] she’s ever had, Candy experiences denial and becomes conflicted with her personal image. The boundaries for my character become very blurred.
Cassandra, you play the role of Jerri. How would you describe your character’s personality and desires? Tell us about her.
Cassandra Paras: Jerri is the kind of woman who stops at nothing to get what she wants, even if it risks her own sanity. She needs to be loved by Kerri’s character, Candy, in a very bad way. I think she finds a lot of joy in the challenge of chasing a straight woman. She still attempts to love and care for Candy, even through her doubts. Her relentless desire to be loved back is one of the more brave things I’ve ever seen in a character.
And how is this role pushing your boundaries?
Cassandra Paras: What boundaries? (Just kidding!) When I first started experimenting with Kerri, I was scared as all hell. I am openly bisexual, and I have had a few intense relations with women, but there was something about Kerri that made me nervous. She was extremely open and willing to go all out on the first day. I think the shock factor of actually being scared and feeling real animalistic attraction towards her was all the confirmation I needed to know that the fear can fuel my objectives.
I can sense that from your photo shoot!
Kerri Lynn Miller: That shoot was tons of fun! Cassandra is a beautiful person, both on the inside and out. She has a crazy, sexy energy to her and a voice that will make you melt. It was very easy to slip into character and allow myself to be free with her.
Cassandra Paras: It’s always a great pleasure to be “hands on” with Kerri Lynn Miller. It was such a fun way to start the process. Get all up and personal with someone you hardly know, and take some sexy pictures of it!
What are some of the challenges in directing such a provocative production?
Clyde Baldo: For me, it’s what I do. Whether it’s in my psychotherapy practice or coaching actors or directing, I feel comfortable and fearless in creating the space [where] people can contact their raw animal, step into their shadow, embrace their insanity and finally be free. So the fact that LOVE AND HUMAN REMAINS is such an edgy show pleases me, as I know it’s a huge opportunity for what is underneath that—the grief and despair we all carry from our wounds. What’s more challenging and exciting in directing this show is that it is written almost cinematically, changing locations and environments in a millisecond. But I love plays with pace and rhythm, and this play has it all.
How long have you been directing? And who, or what, inspired you to get into theater?
Clyde Baldo: I have been directing for 16 years. This is my 17th play in NYC. I was inspired to direct from being an actor who has acted in many plays but found the experience of doing them somehow usually unfulfilling and sterile. My style as a director is that the internal experience for the actors and team is just as important as the external product. And because I hold to this viewpoint, the space created to explore, and relax and expand becomes a platform for the play to deeply emerge and the actors to shine.
At a very early age, I was inspired by theater and psychology. It’s no accident that I currently have my own practice as a psychotherapist and have been working as an actor/director for many years now. They both intersect. They both delve into humanity, deal with healing and expression and the search for the true self. My first grade teacher, Mrs. Roth, was the best teacher I have ever had. She is the definition of what teaching is. She inspired me, exposed me to all forms of art, theater, opera, etc. She was a brilliant loving woman who understood the importance of what creativity brings to the spirit. I was one lucky little boy!
What are the life experiences and professional experiences you bring to this production?
Clyde Baldo: Having my own psychotherapy practice for 20 years has exposed me to all aspects of the human psyche. I viscerally understand the pain of abuse, molestation, despair, abandonment, betrayal, addiction and grief. I have been with deep rage, intense self-hatred, powerful denial and righteous martyrdom. I have travelled into my own darkness and edges. I understand the intoxication of dominance and submission. The pull of seduction. How easy it is to withdraw and lose one’s self. To disappear. To act out. To not know how to get your needs met or even what they are. This play is all about the raw human condition. Its unapologetic, primal and full of love and cruelty. It’s real.
Did you have a hand in casting the show?
Clyde Baldo: Jen and I cast this show together. I know the success of any one of my productions rests 85 percent in the casting. We assembled a fearless, sexy, tender, funny, insane cast who I am so blessed to be working with. If you could see our rehearsals, you would just say, “oh my God, this isn’t even it yet.” It’s astounding how far they go. And we keep going, so it is actualized in its own unique tapestry.
Our readers may be familiar with Brad Fraser, the writer of LOVE AND HUMAN REMAINS, for his work on Showtime’s Queer as Folk. Any similarities between the two?
Jen Rudolph: When I first started seeing ads for the American version of Queer as Folk, I remember reading things that said it would be groundbreaking and very graphic. There was a lot of controversy about the show, but people ended up watching it and becoming addicted to it. The audience was both gay and straight and everywhere in-between. People want that kind of access, even though they say they fear it. Brad Fraser gives it. The characters/ages of Brian and Justin, along with the relationship that they have are strikingly similar to David and Kane in LOVE AND HUMAN REMAINS. The tone of the show is also similar to Queer as Folk—quick, edgy and very true to life.
What makes the play’s subject matter so relevant today?
Jen Rudolph: The subject matter is age-old, but what’s amazing about this play is that we don’t sugarcoat anything. We really go there. You’ll see the stuff that goes on when people are alone. We allow a look into people’s psyches, into their privacy. We encourage it. We will take you right to the edge. At this point in our culture, we are ready to start to see [same-sex] relationships as not so different from hetero ones. This plays shows the humanity of all types of relationships.
Please tell us anything else our lesbian readership would want to know or find interesting!
Cassandra Paras: This play really shows the pain and beauty of battling your own sexuality. It’s almost impossible not to reflect and relate to this story…gay, lesbian or straight. The struggle of being honest and open with your desires is a beautiful thing to watch unravel on the stage.
Kerri Lynn Miller: The sex scene is VERY steamy. I know that every lesbian will enjoy watching a straight girl get turned. So come check it out and see if after experiencing the best orgasm of her life, if Candy is changed forever!
LOVE AND HUMAN REMAINS runs through Monday-Saturday from July 21-August 2 with 7:30pm performances.
For tickets and more information including the official trailer and character featurettes, please visit www.loveandhumanremainsnyc.com.
Tickets are available through TicketCentral.com.