Rebel/Rebel

InterAct Theatre Company’s world premiere of Mary Tuomanen’s MARCUS/EMMAbrings together Jewish immigrant and anarchist Emma Goldman and Jamaican immigrant and pan-African movement leader Marcus Garvey. Both were turn-of-the-20th-century activists deported from the United States, and in Tuomanen’s drama, they meet in a sort of purgatory for a no-holds-barred, sex-fueled, bloody-minded battle to rekindle the smoldering flames of their legacies.

Stevens and Davis as Goldman and Garvey. (Photo by Kathryn Raines/Plate 3)

In this REP Radio interview, Akeem Davis, who plays Garvey, and Susan Riley Stevens, who plays Goldman, discuss what their characters’ lives and actions mean today and how much more relevant they’ve become since the presidential election. You might even say the world has turned into the show’s director’s notes! The play is also intensely physical, and the actors discuss how they prepared for their roles, the many contrasts between their characters, and the way those contrasts are highlighted by InterAct’s design team.

Stevens has been acting professionally in Philadelphia since 2001, won a 2007 Barrymore Award for Best Actress in a Play for her performance in Act II Playhouse’s production of Bad Dates. She also happens to be married to another Philly favorite, actor Greg Wood. Davis arrived in Philadelphia in 2011, has appeared on area stages almost constantly since then, and in 2015 won the F. Otto Haas Award for an Emerging Artist.

Act up, write back

On today’s podcast, we met with Stephanie Feldman, Philadelphia writer and coordinator of the Philadelphia chapter of Writers Resist. This movement is designed to engage a community of authors, poets, filmmakers and the like to use their talents and shine a light on the fundamentals of democracy. Writers Resist will host a rally this weekend at the National Museum of American Jewish History with a plethora of local writers slated to speak.

Stephanie Feldman, ready to resist. (Photo by Sarah Miller Photography)

The Writers Resist movement rapidly coalesced after poet Erin Belieu posted on Facebook, “We will not give in to despair. We will come together and actively help make the world we want to live in. We are bowed, but we are not broken.”

Belieu’s call for writers to organize local events in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day has already resulted in more than 50 events throughout the United States and around the world, including a flagship New York City event co-sponsored by PEN America, and additional events in Boston, Los Angeles, Oakland, Austin, Portland, Omaha, Seattle, London, Zürich, and Hong Kong.

Stephanie Feldman is one of the Philadelphia rally’s organizers, with Alicia Askenase and Nathaniel Popkin. She is also a novelist, and a professor of fiction writing at Arcadia University in Glenside, Pennsylvania.