By Janeal Downs
Imagine three con men in your house and there is no one to protect you but yourself. Now imagine having to protect yourself, viagra all while being blind. From September 18 to October 18, clinic The Firehouse Theater is hosting the play “Wait Until Dark.” The play shows how Susy, cialis a blind woman, fends for herself while her husband, a photographer, is at work when three con men target the married couple living in New York. They are searching for a doll containing drugs, which they believe are hidden somewhere in the apartment. “It’s a thriller and it started out as a play many years ago and also has been made into a movie starring Audrey Hepburn,” the play’s director, David Emerson Toney said. “What happens is that the husband doesn’t know it, but a woman who is a drug swindler gave him a doll to bring back from Montreal and the woman told him it was a gift for a niece of hers.” When the woman comes to retrieve the doll and Sam can’t find it, Toney said this is when the woman goes to fellow criminals to help her con the man into revealing the doll’s location.
For the play, which is set in New York, Toney felt it was important to show the tapestry of New York. The people in the play and their variety of races reflect the setting. While the lead was played by an African American female, Susy’s husband Sam is also played by an African American male, something Toney said he did on purpose. Toney described Ciara McMillian, who plays Susy, as fantastic. “I think because I have been an actor for 34 years, I just needed more to do in my profession,” Toney stated. “As an actor you’re only worried about your character, and I think it’s a lot more fun to be considering everybody’s character on stage.”
Many people watch thrillers or horror movies, where witnessing someone get murdered or die is horrible, but McMillian said there is nothing like a thriller in live theater. McMillian, who is a performing arts major at VCU, learned about the play through a VCU production of Arabian Nights where Toney also performed. McMillian described her character as a funny, loving, and caring person who wants the best for everybody. “She’s not able to see and she has to fight, and I consider myself a fighter,” McMillian said. “I’ve been through a lot of things in my life and I don’t really get too down on myself; I never stay sad for too long and I think that’s something that I bring to the character in the play.” When McMillian first found out she would play a blind woman, she said she was “scared to death.” However, she prepared for the role by not only observing other blind people, but also by never wearing her own contacts during rehearsals.
Originally from Mississippi, McMillian said she could also relate to Susy who had moved from the South. Susy, who left home, had to adjust to a new setting in New York which is where she loses her sight. “This is the first character where somebody’s told me that it is okay for me to be as southern as I want to be,” McMillian said. With her accent and constantly using the affectionate word of “baby” for friends and strangers she interacts with during the play, McMillian definitely built Susy’s character as a Southern and loving woman.
VCU student Saidu Tejan-Thomas, who plays Susy’s husband Sam, heard about the play while also acting in the Arabian Nights production. He said before he even knew what the play was about, he wanted to audition because he saw another opportunity to gain experience in acting. “Once I got a chance to read the script, then I realized it was a pretty amazing script by Frederick Knott,” Tejan- Thomas said. “And it was a genre that I never thought that I’d be doing.” As Sam, though he was not present as often as Susy, he played a major and supporting role. Tejan-Thomas described Sam as a very loving guy and Susy’s anchor. “She doesn’t believe that she can do the things she could do when she had her sight and Sam is that hope for her because Sam lets her be independent,” Tejan-Thomas said. “He loves her to death and that makes her believe in herself, which in turn allows her to do the amazing things she does when Sam’s not around.”
Though Sam’s determination to make Susy independent in the play may seem harsh initially, it helps show the audience that Susy may not have been able to handle herself as well as she did in the play without the tough love. Tejan-Thomas said Susy’s role is important in the fact that the lead is an African American woman. “I would say ‘Wait Until Dark’ is a love story that goes wrong not with the love but with that day to day everyday life of events, and it’s also about independence in the face of adversity. Also, it’s about unlocking that thing inside of you that you never thought you had; it’s almost like adrenaline where you don’t think you can do something and when you’re pushed to your fringes is when you realize how much you can actually accomplish. And it’s also a story of redemption from not having sight to getting to a point where you can do a lot that you thought you couldn’t,” Tejan-Thomas stated. He said the play is something people will be thankful they saw, because it is so well put together.
Firehouse Theater is located at 1609 W. Broad St in Richmond, Va. Tickets are currently on sale for the production which will end on October 18. The Firehouse Theater’s website states regular tickets are $35; people 65 and older can buy tickets for $29; people with military ID, student ID or a RAPT card can buy tickets for $16; and groups of ten or more can purchase tickets for $24. More information about the play can be found on www.firehousetheatre.org/wait-until-dark/.