The Madness of Memory Lane

VLT director Gerald Walters discusses the challenges of The Other Place

The human memory is a most wily creature, a Picasso-like construction of images and emotions. And if we manipulate our own memories, to what extent is anything we remember real?

Part psychological study, part fast-paced thriller, The Other Place is a play that explores the fascinating study of memory. According to The New York Times, the play is “cunningly constructed entertainment that discloses its nifty twists at intervals that keep us intrigued.”

To learn about the process of producing this juicy new play, I contacted the play’s director, Gerald Walters. For Walters, it’s the mystery of the play that first drew him in. “I kept wondering,” he says, “was one of the characters fabricating her past and present in her mind or was she ill and not thinking clearly? It was a mystery to me, what was real and what was made up.”

The Other Place has been called a “contemporary psychological thriller,” and so I asked Walters how he manages to balance the intellectual aspects of the play with the pacing necessary for a thriller. “I believe you have to treat the play as if it was a thriller, which means the intellectual aspects of the play have be treated as the facts that are always presented in a thriller,” he says. “That in turn means the pace of the play has to move at a steady to sometimes a breathtaking pace to keep the audience interest from beginning to end, and their ultimate resolution to the ending.”

Sound like a bit of a workout for an actor? It is. “The actors have to ride the emotional roller coaster with the audience as the author unfolds his story in his play,” Walters notes.

The preview performance on May 1 will aptly benefit the Alzheimer’s Association. Walters says that The Other Place can help us to better understand and work with those suffering from Alzheimer’s. “I feel this play allows the viewer to see one of the ways to cope with the people suffering from this type of behavior, dementia or Alzheimer’s,” he says.

Walters hopes the audience keeps an open mind “no matter what information is given to them by the characters.” Expect to be surprised by how your perception will shift throughout the show. “I can almost guarantee that after the show ends, there will be a different opinion between the audience members of what actually happened,” he warns.

Prepare for a bumpy ride down memory lane.

The Other Place runs May 2 through May 11 at The Very Little Theatre in Stage Left; $10.