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19-20 Marvin’s Room

KGAF  Dee Blanton Interview With “Marvin’s Room” Director Russell Schmid

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Director’s Note:
Families can be curious things. As youngsters the family is our entire world as we gradually evolve into individuals with distinctive traits and affinities. As adolescents and teens we may find our families to be a source of embarrassment, indicative more of our own uncertainty and awkwardness than any shortcoming of theirs. As we develop into our own personal versions of adults, we all make choices that define the familial relationships of lessons learned, and even stories of crushing moments which we think are not survivable. We come through these things and hopefully find at the end that we were lucky enough to realize the love we have for those around us. The giving of love unconditionally is what defines our family, regardless of blood relationships. Love is Family. So let’s all try to give an extra hug to those we choose to call family, and share a chuckle or two while we can.

I hope you enjoy watching this talented cast as much as I have enjoyed working with them, they all bring so much to the table. Thanks for joining us for a while in the slightly quirky world that is Marvin’s Room.

Russell Schmid, Director


Synopsis: Winner of the 1991 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play, the 1991 Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Off-Broadway Play and the 1991 John Gassner Award for Best New American Play, Marvin’s Room tells the story of sisters Bessie and Lee.  Bessie lives in Florida where she cares for her pain-ridden aunt and ailing father, Marvin, who is confined to his bed and unable to speak. When Bessie is diagnosed with leukemia, her only hope is to contact her long-estranged sister, Lee, to see if their bone marrow is compatible for a transplant. Lee reluctantly makes the trip from Ohio, bringing along her two sons, one of whom, Hank, has just been released from an institution after a wave of arson. The sisters’ reunion is uneasy at best, with long buried recriminations coming to the surface even as love slowly overwhelms Lee’s veneer of selfishness and glib denial. By the end of the play, the sisters find themselves gradually transformed for the better by the bonds of family and the unconditional love that comes with that.  Beloved for its mordant humor and unflinching wisdom, Scott McPherson’s dark comedy allows us a moving view of one woman’s commitment to family and response to despair.


Upon its premiere in 1991, a New York Times reviewer said, “What separates Marvin’s Room from so many synthetic American plays…is that even at its occasional sunniest, it never lies or sentimentalizes the truth. Mr. McPherson takes the time to ask, “What good can we do with the time that we have left before our inevitable fate arrives?” My first impulse after seeing Mr. McPherson’s play was to gather those I care about close to me and take them into Marvin’s Room so that they, too, could bask in its bouncing, healing light.”


Marvin’s Room was made into an Academy Award nominated film in 1996 starring Meryl Streep, Diane Keaton, Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Hume Cronyn & Gwen Verdon.