Actors Stimulate and Challenge Themselves in ‘Phoebe in Winter’


“The role of Phoebe has been the most challenging role I’ve ever played,” Amanda Heiser, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) ’16, said, when recalling rehearsing the role of Phoebe in “Phoebe in Winter.” Fellow cast members in the play share the same experience as Heiser; all found their roles challenging, as they had to play roles that dealt with life after war. Starting on Nov. 12-14, and again from Nov. 20-22, “Phoebe in Winter” will be shown in the Pope Auditorium at FCLC. 

The play centers around a young woman, Phoebe, who has lost everything in the war. One day, Phoebe decides to take charge of her life, and travels a great distance in order to make a new start. Wielding a gun, she arrives at the home of the Creedy family, whose youngest son is also at war. Holding the family at gunpoint, she decides that they are going to be her new family, and that she will now be in charge of the household. 

Dawn Saito, artist-in-residence at Fordham Theatre Program and director of “Phoebe in Winter,” is glad to have had the opportunity to work with such a devoted cast.  Saito said, “The cast has been a dream cast.  [They were] fantastically committed, diligent, curious and passionate to dive into and interpret the wild world of “Phoebe in Winter.” The play has so many layers to uncover which requires the actors to consistently search, discover, raise questions, explore and test choices. I am grateful for how brave and generous they all have been.”

Heiser is also grateful to play the strong, demanding leading role of Phoebe. “She’s lost so much: her home, her family, her first love. And yet she has the strength to travel across the world to reclaim all that she has lost and start a new life for herself out of the destruction which has invaded her world,” she said. “Playing Phoebe has not only been mentally challenging in staying grounded within her drastic circumstances, but a physical challenge as well. To play a character as strong as Phoebe, you got to build up some muscle. I have learned so much about the global history of war, and how terrifyingly similar the tactics, weapons, effects and destruction seem to be through time and location.”

Like Heiser, Marshall Taylor Thurman, FCLC ’15, and Yaron Lotan, FCLC ’15, who play Jeremiah Creedy and Da Creedy, respectively, are also delighted to have had the opportunity to play deep and challenging characters. On playing the role of Jeremiah, Thurman said, “The biggest draw for this play was first and foremost, the beautiful and adventurous script by Jen Silverman. Her story, characters and themes were such exciting opportunities for an actor. Jeremiah has so many layers that conflict on a superficial level. He is very much an ‘alpha male’ and yet he is incredibly disturbed by his experience in the war. He has a savage side that loves war and is not afraid to kill, but there is still a heart beneath that bloodlust. Discovering and balancing all those sides to Jeremiah has been an exciting challenge.”

Lotan added, “The challenging aspects of Da Creedy are what make him so fun to play.  I was surprised when I was cast as the patriarch, and it hasn’t necessarily been easy to play a character of his age and stature, but navigating my way through and bringing myself and my humor into him has been a super rewarding experience.”

Perhaps what will shine through the most from this production is the hard work of not only the cast themselves, but also working alongside the director Saito. 

Thurman said, “Taking everything Dawn taught me at the start of my education and applying it towards a full-fledged production has been enlightening and affirming; a wonderful transition from classroom to quasi professional production.”

According to Lotan, “Dawn is always open to explore any ideas we may have. With that, she encourages us to find the answers within ourselves, making it an influential learning experience.”

When asked what the audience should expect from the play, Saito added, “I think the audience will take away individual responses. For me, it is personal. It is a reflection of what Phoebe says, ‘The family is the microcosm of the world, after all.’”