FringeArts gains adaptation for the stage

Christine Emmert and Katherine Mallon-Day share not only a production company, Wild Plum Productions, but the goal of captivating audiences and making an impact with all of their performances.

On Sept. 16-18, the company will bring “The Yellow Wallpaper” to the 2014 FringeArts Festival.  Mallon-Day and Emmert will star in the adapted production.

“We focus on works that speak to us as women, as mature women and as independent women,” Mallon-Day said.

Both women have a great love for the theater and the desire to bring stories to life; a factor in their decision to work on adaptions, they said.

Emmert said her love for make believe and magic is what drew her to the stage.

“Maybe I just never grew up,” Emmert said.

Mallon-Day began her theater career early when she debuted in the third-grade production of “The Cross Princess” and participated in shows throughout high school.

“The opportunity to get into someone else’s skin, heart and brain is what draws me to the stage,” Mallon-Day said.

The two women started their own production company in the hopes that it would allow them and other women their age to continue their passion.

“As women mature in theater, they seem to fade away quickly,” Mallon-Day said.  “Audition listings seem to welcome mature men, but the opportunities for mature women are far less plentiful.”

Despite this obstacle, Mallon-Day and Emmert continue to pursue their shared love of theater and said they attempt to defy that stereotype by producing and adapting stories that they are passionate about.

“I guess if theater makes me happy, then I should make theatre,” Mallon-Day said.

“The Yellow Wallpaper,” written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, is “about the descent into madness by a woman trying to cling to what matters to her,” Emmert said.

This past spring, Emmert introduced the idea of adapting this story for the stage to Mallon-Day and the pair decided to bring it to the FringeArts Festival.

Mallon-Day and Emmert will both play the role of the same woman at different times in her life.

“Her journey through depression and her way of coping with it is what interests me,” Mallon-Day said.

Mallon-Day described her role in the production as more physical then verbal, which has led her to work on gestures that will make strong statements. She also researched types of mental illnesses and their treatments.

“The best preparation is taking time to be with the character,” Mallon-Day said.

The question in the story of what is real in a person’s head and what pushes them to madness is what holds Mallon-Day’s interest in adapting the story for the stage, as well as the history of treatment for mental illness.

“The reality is that the growing contribution of women to the medical and psychological field over time has definitely changed the treatment of mental illness,” Mallon-Day said.

Mallon-Day feels the story’s theme of boredom inciting creativity and the need for the time and space alone to bring it about is something that connected her to it.

Mallon-Day said she hopes the story and their performance will allow her to dig deeper into the character and bring the audience along for the journey.

“I hope the audience leaves with as many questions as answers – questions such as, ‘Who is who?’ And, ‘What is real and what is not?’” Mallon-Day said.

Caitlin O’Connell can be reached at caitlin.oconnell@temple.edu

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