By Frankie Kujawa
Everyman Theatre's production of THE SOUND INSIDE by Adam Rapp, has audiences raving about the fantastic performances from Resident Company members Beth Hylton and Zach Powell. Running through Sunday, April 2nd, the production is filled with intrigue, stunning imagery, gorgeous writing, and a healthy dose of mystery. The enchanting Beth Hylton recently chatted about the play, the amount of focus that went into this production, and the relationship Everyman Theatre has established within the Charm City community.
Frankie Kujawa: In your own words, could you describe what audiences can expect from this performance of THE SOUND INSIDE?
Beth Hylton: THE SOUND INSIDE is, I think, best described as a mystery. But that is almost as much about the style of the piece—which starts off as one thing—and then keeps shifting into something else. Over and over again. By the end of the play, the audience is unsure of even the time signature.
It’s been thrilling to have conversations afterwards with audience members who are puzzling out the meaning, the events, of the play.
But at the heart of it, its a story about two lonely people who connect—in this case as fellow writers, and over a shared love of good books, but ultimately lonely people connecting is something we can all recognize and with which we can all empathize.
Frankie Kujawa: Could you describe a little about your character in this production?
Beth Hylton: Bella is a bit prickly, a middle-aged Yale professor who doesn’t really have much of a life outside of work and the world of her treasured books. She connects with one of her students, Christopher, a bit of an oddball in many ways, a loner much like herself—and she develops something of a mentor/mentee relationship with him. She discovers she has potentially terminal cancer, after which all of her life is viewed through the lens of this news.
Frankie Kujawa: As a performer, what went into preparing for a role such as this?
Beth Hylton: Vinny Lancisi [Founding Artistic Director], our fearless leader, really wanted the audience to feel, at times, that they were inside Bella’s head as she navigated big life decisions. As a result, we kept paring down and stripping away what is unnecessary, emotion-wise, movement-wise, so that the play is spare, rigorous, disciplined. It requires an unbelievable amount of mental focus, unlike any thing else I have ever done, quite honestly. I never leave stage, so it really is something of a marathon, even though its a nice lean 90 minutes.
I am a big reader myself, so I did some prep reading of the novels the characters reference, but mostly—I got something of a head start on the lines.
Frankie Kujawa: Everyman Theatre has brought many fantastic and thought-provoking productions to Baltimore this season. Could you describe what it's like performing in a theater such as Everyman?
Beth Hylton: I consider myself so lucky to be a member of the resident company. Zack Powell, who plays Christopher, is relatively new to the company. However, already - even with him - I am able to have a short hand, as an actor. That means we get to jump right in to the work and the world of the play even in the first early days, when in other productions with other companies, I might still be getting to know the actors I am in the room with.
Also, as a stage actor you always have a collaborative relationship with your audience, but here at Everyman - where the audiences are familiar with me and my work and I am familiar with them - it also deepens that collaboration, as well. I trained at a repertory company in grad school, for three years, but I have been working at Everyman for almost fifteen, I think? And I simply cannot compare it to anything else. It’s really unusual in the world now, and we are so lucky.
Frankie Kujawa: What is it about this production of The Sound Inside that might make it unique for Baltimore audiences?
Beth Hylton: I think the play is so beautiful, the language, the characters. I think for anyone who loves a good book, and loves the delicate unfolding of story that a great novel allows—this play truly dramatizes that tautness in a way I think I have never seen before.
For more information, please visit: everymantheatre.org/event/sound-inside/