The talented Lindsay Eagle earned a 2013 Boston My Theatre Award Nomination for Best Director for Flat Earth Theatre’s Rocket Man, but we’ve loved Lindsay, both as an actor and director, since she directed The Shape of Things for The Independent Drama Society back in 2009. She brings her wonderful mix of thoughtfulness and whimsy to this interview where she discusses her time in the Boston fringe theatre circles, the process of Rocket Man, her and dreams of being an astronomer.
Lindsay, can you tell us about your performing and directing history? How did you become involved in theatre?
Like many actors, I’m pretty sure I’ve been performing since before I could talk. As a kid, I would create these elaborate stories with my toys and dolls, which I then performed ad nauseum for my parents. When I was about five or six years old, my mom enrolled me in a children’s theatre program, and my theatrical debut was as a donkey in a production of Aesop’s Fables—truly my finest moment.
About five years ago, a bunch of friends and I were attempting to form a theatre company (which later became known as the Independent Drama Society). We were all more or less actors, and we were looking for someone to actually direct the thing, and a few of them told me I should do it. So I directed a production of Neil Labute’s The Shape of Things, which was a really incredible experience for me. I loved it so much that I kept at it. Since then, I’ve directed a ton of staged readings, many 10-minute and one-act plays, and two full length productions: Eurydice by Sarah Ruhl, and, of course, Rocket Man.
You are both an actor and director, which would you say is your primary role?
That’s the question, isn’t it? Short answer is, I don’t know. I’ve become very content to just do both for now and let the universe decide.
If you could work with any Boston artist who would it be and for what play?
There are two Boston-area directors I deeply admire and I would love to work with: Scott Edmiston and David Gammons. I’ve seen several productions that they’ve directed, and I really connect with their work; Mr. Edmiston has way of expressing emotion with the perfect physical metaphor, and Mr. Gammons brings a wild imagination and vision to any story. It would be awesome to serve as their Assistant Director for pretty much anything they’re working on, but especially if it involves some kind of physical theatre. I’d love to learn from them!
What has your favorite show been to work on, either as an actor or a director?
Despite that it only ran for one weekend and four performances (and VERY few people saw it!), The Shape of Things was a production that really shaped my theatrical life for many years. It was a truly important experience for me. Rocket Man itself was also an exceptional experience because there was such love between every single person working on it: actors, designers, production staff, you name it. Many of us had never worked together before and it was unbelievable how well the team gelled. The show would not have come together as well as it did had it not been for every single person who worked on it.
Rocket Man walks a fine line between reality and the otherworldly, do you find yourself more drawn to realism or fantasy in art?
I’m deeply drawn to magical realism – stories that are grounded in reality, but where elements of fantasy are possible. There’s something beautiful about a world that is just like our own except for this one fantastical element . . . Sort of makes me feel like magic may not be so impossible after all.
Why did you want to direct Rocket Man?
When I first read Rocket Man, I was at a point in my life where I was experiencing a lot of shame. I was ashamed of all of these mistakes I’d made, all these things I’d done, all these things I hadn’t done and wanted to do but couldn’t get myself to just do them . . . I had a lot of regrets, and the conceit in Rocket Man—the idea that there is this other universe where time moves backwards and you age downward—is such a perfect and exquisite illustration of regret that it deeply, deeply moved me, and made me want to work on this story.
What was the process like of building characters who age backwards?
The process was actually different for each character and relationship. With Donny and his (ex) wife Rita, we actually ended up starting in Act II, when they are still married and in love, and working backwards into Act I, when they are divorced and unhappy. We built the emotional framework of their relationship, first, and then dismantled it. With Buck, the oldest character, and Trisha, the youngest, we played a lot with physicality—what’s it like to have lived 70 years, but have a youthful body? What’s it like to have energy of a child, but the body of an old man?
If you were to go to an alternative reality, what would your be your new career?
Actually? I’d really like to be an astronomer, or an astronaut. I don’t have the brain for astrophysics or the constitution for space travel, but I’ve always been fascinated by space, by the vast endless universe. As a kid, I used to lie in bed at night and imagine just how big the universe is. It daunted and excited me. Also, those videos of guys skydiving from space are pretty cool.
Danny uses a recliner, what would be your preferred transportation method through time and space?
So, this is kind of embarrassing, but I would love to travel space and time by riding some kind of large animal companion. I’m basically thinking Falcore from The Neverending Story. Then I’d never be alone. Also, it would probably be very comfortable.