Hello wonderful Barnstormer community,
This is Madeleine Maby and Jordan Reeves chatting about performing, the pandemic, and all things Barnstormers.
Personal backstories and BST history
Madeleine: I started performing in community theater as a child, then added school shows, and eventually I majored in Drama at NYU Tisch School of the Arts. After school I started a theater company in New York with six other female artists, and started performing in a number of regional theaters.
My first show at The Barnstormers was in 2011 playing all the female roles in The 39 Steps. Still one of the funniest shows I’ve gotten to do. Since then I’ve worked on so many wonderful shows at BST, 16 in total, some favorites include; Witness for The Prosecution, Boeing-Boeing, The Mousetrap, Laughingstock, And Then There Were None, The Man Who Came to Dinner, and most recently Spiders Web.
Jordan: I’ve been in the theatre since I was knee high to a duck. In undergrad, I studied theatre and earned a BFA in acting, and for a number of years in my early twenties I worked as an actor and stuntman all over the country. Then in 2005 I returned to school and received my MFA in Acting from Brown University. After grad school I moved to New York City, where I worked professionally for another decade. During that time, I found my calling as a director and my passion for Shakespeare. This led to me becoming the Artistic Director and founding member of Guerrilla Shakespeare Project; where I directed, acted in, and produced numerous works by Shakespeare, new plays, workshop, and readings. I loved running the GSP company, but I also loved the summers when I could slip away from New York and go up to New Hampshire and work with another great English playwright….Agatha Christie.
I was first introduced to Barnstormers in 2011 through Madeleine. When she got her first job, The 39 Steps, up at the Barnstormers I remember vividly driving up to New Hampshire to see the show. It was a wonderfully funny production, and I had a great time meeting all the talented and lovely people that made the Barnstormers home. After that, I returned each summer as an excited Barnstormers’ audience member, to watch the woman, that would a few years later become my wife, perform regularly onstage. Then in 2017, I had the opportunity to audition and join the company as an actor. It was such a wonderful gift, to act for the Tamworth community that I had been a part of for so many years. Now, over the last 3 seasons I have performed (often with Madeleine) in: Towards Zero, And Then There Were None, Spider’s Web, and Things My Mother Taught Me.
Favorite moments and challenges
Madeleine: I have a lot of favorite moments at The Barnstormers. But one of the most challenging things I’ve had to do was jumping in to perform in My Three Angels with only a few hours notice. Unfortunately an actor was injured during the day, I was there rehearsing the next show, and Bob Shea called to ask if I could go on for her about 3 hours before curtain. Luckily the part was only in 2 short scenes, but as I had not yet even read the play, it was still pretty daunting. I ran over to the theater, Robin (the stage manager) walked me through the blocking, Mary (the costume designer) gave me something to wear, and I had a chance to run through the scenes once with Jean Mar Brown (one of my favorite scene partners), and the guys playing the ‘Angels’, before I was getting ready in the dressing room and trying to memorize as quickly as possible. Even though I remember shaking from nerves, I also felt so supported and taken care of by the entire cast and crew. And I also felt like a real Barnstormer, in the spirit of the days when everyone was in all 8 shows and memorizing everything rapidly. It felt like I was part of that tradition of a company, and needing to make choices quickly and with confidence.
Getting to work with Jordan has been another gift the Barnstormers has given me. Getting to do what you love the most with the person you love the most is a rare opportunity. Plus, it’s nice to be on the same schedule. Picking up coffees at The Other Store, running lines behind the barn, rehearsing, and then spending the evening making food at Gilman and talking about rehearsals and the play. That’s pretty much my perfect day.
Jordan: Working with Madeleine at the Barnstormers has been a joy and blessing in our relationship. I’m also a director, mostly in New York City, and have directed my wife numerous times over the years. However, we had not had many opportunities to act on stage together. I am so thankful that the Barnstormers gave Madeleine and I a place to come together and perform with other artists and friends, for a community we truly care about. Over the last decade Tamworth, and the theatre, has been our summer home away from home.
2020 and Beyond
Madeleine: At the start of 2020 I was doing a show in Florida at The Asolo Repertory Theatre called Into The Breeches. It’s a play about a group of women during World War II coming together to help a local theater survive with the men gone to war. It’s a beautiful and funny show, and a role I had been dying to play, and I had a wonderful experience with it. Unfortunately, because of COVID the show had to close early. Jordan and I flew back to London in March of last year and have been in lockdown pretty much since then. I’ve been recording audiobooks, taking a lot of different workshops and classes on Zoom, and occasionally getting auditions I can record from home. All of our travel, and our opportunities to see friends and family in the States, were of course put on pause. But we’ve been very lucky to be healthy and still be able to communicate with everyone we love regardless of what country we’re in at the time.
I imagine this year, 2021, live performance opportunities will still be scarce, and when they occur it’ll be on a smaller scale. During the past year I’ve switched a lot of my energy towards getting better at performing on camera, because until we can all gather inside together again performance means something different. My hope for the future is that theater comes back strong as we realize that we missed spending time together watching a story being told that specific way, by those people, that particular evening.
Jordan: I think the future of American theatre is in a delicate place. The world is evolving and changing, and I know theatre must too. However, I still believe live theatre is a magical thing, and that it gives its audience something that all the TV, Films, and Netflix in the universe just can’t… and that is a living breathing human connection. Don’t we all need that? The theatre does not exist without an audience; they are the final cast members of every production. The audience’s presence, its attention, its energy, its emotions, its laughter, all fuels the play and makes it unique and special each and every time. I know this world-wide pandemic has for a time stopped us all from coming together. But I truly believe when we come out of this crisis, we will be hungry for, and need, human interaction. We will need a place to gather together to share stories and truths. A place where we can all relish in the beauty of human interaction and truly be a part of a community. That’s what theatre is. That’s what the Barnstormers is.