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A Simple Question for... Molly Regan

Molly Regan, an ensemble member since 1985, has appeared as an actor on the Steppenwolf stage in such memorable productions as The Three Sisters, Earthly Possessions and, perhaps most fondly, as Aunt Dan in Aunt Dan and Lemon. In February, Molly turns her focus to directing the world premiere of Pacific by Andrew Case in the Steppenwolf Garage. Backstage presented Molly with the simple question – how did you progress into directing? I started teaching at The School at Steppenwolf, and when you do something like that, you start thinking in a more encompassing way, from a broader point of view than when you’re an actor working on your solitary part. A lot of times students don’t know how to read the play, so you start teaching them how to, as well as how to work on their character and the typical emotional lives, the actions and objectives, character history. Teaching, I’ve found, sort of expands one‘s vision of one’s self. And then I was asked by The School to direct a long scene one summer. I thought the scene went well, and wanted to try another one. And the next summer I tried a one-act. My evolution has been gradual. I was developing my thinking, a way to talk to actors, a way to think about staging, and my thinking kept getting broader and more encompassing of the whole play. When you’re an actor, you try to focus on one thing and you don’t see the event of the scene. And when you have to start giving actors, “Ok, this is the event of the scene, this is how the scene fits into the play,” you want to make them think that they are part of a whole. And so you start defining, “This is what happens, and then this event, and you see how your part fits into this mosaic?” There is great reward in that, great artistic reward, in seeing something come to life, seeing something you’re shaping, you’re not just playing one little part, you’re actually shaping a view, you’re shaping an event, you’re shaping an experience for the audience. I feel it is a natural extension of my work as an actor; I didn’t know that it would be.