Arizona Artbeat: Marsha Mason, Paige Davis

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Arizona Theatre Company’s latest production is Act of God, an irreverent yet touching look at the 10 Commandments and how God would rewrite them to fit our modern day. ATC’s version is shattering glass ceilings. A Broadway smash, the play has always been directed by a man and the role of God has always been played by a man, until now. We sit down with the director, four-time Academy Award nominee, Marsha Mason and the star, Paige Davis.

CHRISTINA ESTES: THANK YOU VERY MUCH. IN TONIGHT'S ART BEAT, ARIZONA THEATER COMPANY NEWEST PLAY ACT OF GOD. THE BROADWAY PLAY IS BASED ON A TWITTER ACCOUNT AND A BOOK WRITTEN BY THE FORMER HEAD WRITER FOR THE DAILY SHOW AND UNTIL NOW THE ROLE OF GOD HAS BEEN ALWAYS PLAYED BY A MAN. BROADWAY ACTRESS PAIGE DAVIS HAS STEPPED INTO THE ROLE AND DIRECTING HER IS 4 TIME OSCAR NOMINEE AND 2 TIME GOLDEN GLOBE WINNER MARSHA MASON. PRODUCER SHANNA FISHER SAT DOWN WITH BOTH WOMEN ON THE EVE OF THE PLAYS DEBUT HERE IN PHOENIX.
PACKAGE:
ACT OF GOD IS A WONDERFUL PLAY ABOUT GOD COMING DOWN AND DECIDING TO REWRITE THE TEN COMMANDMENTS BASED ON HIS/HER AWARENESS OF WHAT IS HAPPENING IN THE WORLD.

I PLAY GOD. I AM WOMAN HEAR ME ROAR. I AM GOD AND IT IS A WONDERFUL FEELING. I AM THE FIRST WOMAN TO PLAY THE ROLE IN AN ACT OF GOD WHICH IS VERY EXCITING

I WAS DIRECTOR A LOT OF WOMEN AT THE TIME ESPECIALLY WITH STEEL MAGNOLIAS SO I THINK THAT IS PART OF THE REASON THEY GOT IN TOUCH WITH ME AND I SAID YES.

WHEN I GOT THE CALL FOR THE AUDITION I THOUGHT IT WAS A MISTAKE BECAUSE I KNEW IT WAS PLAYED BY JIM PARSON AND SEAN HAZE BEFORE, BOTH MEN. IT OCCURRED TO ME THAT COULD BE ME

GOT THE SCRIPT.

I WISH THAT WAS REALLY FOR ME I SAID. AND THEN I KIND OF LOOKED FURTHER AND REALIZED I KNOW THEY WANT A FEMALE DIRECTOR WITH MARSHA MASON AND THEY WANT THE WOMAN TO PLAY GOD.

YOU SEE CELEBRITIES ARE MY CHOSEN PEOPLE.

MARSHA MASON AS A DIRECTOR IS THE SAME AS MARSHA MASON AS A PERSON. SHE IS OPEN, FLEXIBLE, KIND, SHE IS COMMITTED, SHE IS OPINIONIATED BUT OPEN MINDED. I REALLY ENJOYED WORKING WITH HER. HANDS DOWN, NO OFFENSE, BUT THE BIGGEST DRAW FOR ME TO DO THIS PLAY WAS TO BE ABLE TO WORK WITH HER AND TO MEET MARSHA MASON.

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DIRECTING AND ACTING IS HUGE. NOT EVERY ACTOR CAN BE A DIRECTOR BUT I THINK EVERY DIRECTOR SHOULD ACT ONCE AND EVERY ACTOR SHOULD DIRECT ONCE AND EVERY WRITER SHOULD ACT AND DIRECT ONCE BECAUSE YOU GAIN A RESPECT FOR THE DISCIPLINE ITSELF. BUT IT IS VERY DIFFERENT. I REMEMBER THERE IS A WONDERFUL QUOTE I READ YEARS AGO THAT CARL MILD GAVE IN AN INTERVIEW AND HE SAID HE WANTED TO DIRECT AND TRIED IT ONCE AND REALIZED HE COULD NOT BE A GOOD DIRECTOR BECAUSE ALL HE WANTED WAS THE ACTORS TO DO IT LIKE WE WANTED TO DO IT HE. THE BIG DIFFERENCE IS TO FIND WHAT GOOD AND STRONG IN THE PERSON AND GIVE THEM A SAFE ENVIRONMENT IN WHICH THEY CAN GROW AND BECOME THE CHARACTER JUST NUDGE IT ALONG AND HOPEFULLY DIRECT IT IN A WAY THAT IS SUPPORTIVE AND COMPASSIONINATE AND GETS IT GOING. WHAT ACCOUNTS FOR MY LONGEVITY? MY SHEER OBJECTIVE OF TRYING TO STAY RELEVANT. IT IS HARDER FOR A WOMAN MY AGE. YOU HAVE TO KIND OF GO WITH THE PUNCHES. IT IS A ROLLER COASTER RIDE THERE WAS A TIME WHEN I WORKED NON STOP AND THREN THE WAS A TIME WHEN I WASN'T THERE WAS AND IT REALLY THREW ME THE ADVICE I HAVE FOR WOMAN IS TO HANG TOUGH. HANG TOUGH AND COME FROM YOUR CORE COME FROM WHO YOU ARE. FIND OUT WHO YOU ARE AND COME FROM THAT PLACE BECAUSE THAT IS YOUR STRENGTH AND TELL THE TRUTH.

SOMETHING THAT WAS ESSENTIAL IN THE DIRECTION OF THE PLAY FOR MARSHA WAS SHE TOLD ME NOT TO FEEL ANY GUILT. WOMEN FEEL GUILT AND I AM JEWISH SO I HAVE IT TEN FOLD. SHE WAS LIKE THE ONE THING THAT IS MAYBE MOST IMPORTANT FOR YOU, THE ACTOR, PAIGE DAVIS, TO REMEMBER YOU NEVER FEEL GUILT WHEN YOU ARE ASKING QUESTIONS ABOUT YOURSELF EVER EVEN AS GOD THEY ARE NOT ASKED THROUGH GUILT. THEY ARE JUST COMPTEMPTPLATIVE QUESTIONS.

I FOUND IT THERAPEUTIC TO SAY TO PEOPLE REALLY THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU HAVE DOING IS TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE CHOICES YOU MAKE. IN THE PLAY, GOD TAKES RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE CHOICES GOD HAS MADE. AND I BELIEVE GOD WANTS PEOPLE TO START DOING THAT, TOO. I DON'T KNOW IF I NEED ANSWERS FROM GOD. I REALLY DON'T. I THINK IT IS BETTER TO JUST KEEP GOING. THAT IS WHAT GOD ASKS THE PEOPLE TO DO. LIVE, TRUST IN YOURSELF, BELIEVE IN YOURSELF, MAKE THE WORLD HOW YOU WANT TO MAKE IT. IT IS UP TO YOU

WHAT WOULD I ASK GOD? I SUPPOSE ONE OF THE KEY QUESTIONS THAT THE ANGLE MICHAEL HAS IS WHY DO GOOD THINGS HAPPEN TO BAD PEOPLE? THERE ARE TIMES WHEN I WISH, I WISH LIVE WAS FAIR BUT IT ISN'T. SO I SUPPOSE THAT IS THE LESSON; TO GO WITH THE FLOW.

CHRISTINA ESTES: ACT OF GOD RUNS THROUGH DECEMBER 4TH AT THE HERBERGER THEATER.FOR TICKET INFORMATION VISIT ARIZONATHEATER.ORG. WEDNESDAY ON ARIZONA HORIZON, WE WILL HEAR FROM THE NEW AMBASSADOR FROM THE MEXICO TO THE U.S. HE WAS NAMED IN HIS POST IN APRIL IN RESPONSE TO PRESIDENT ELECT DONALD TRUMPS DISPARAGING REMARKS ABOUT MEXICAN IMMIGRANTS AND WE'LL TAKE A LOOK AT A PROGRAM IN MARICOPA COUNTY THAT'S PARTNERING VETERANS WITH PEOPLE IN THE COMMUNITY REENTER INTO EVERYDAY LIFE. THAT IS ALL FOR TONIGHT. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US WE WILL BE BACK HERE TOMORROW FOR "ARIZONA HORIZON." SEE YOU THEN. HAVE A GREAT NIGHT. "ARIZONA HORIZON" IS MADE POSSIBLE BY CONTRIBUTIONS FROM THE FRIENDS OF ARIZONA PBS. MEMBERS OF YOUR PBS STATION, THANK

Marsha Mason, director, "Act of God"
Paige Davis, actress, "Act of God"

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