Cast Photo Chester Eitze:
Front: Engela Edwards with Toto; Back left to right: Alicia
Gust, Rachel Edwards, Lisa Holcomb.
Click here for
print quality image 580 k
the Family Tree
A Play by Daniel Gordon
Directed by Engela Edwards
Interview with the Pruning director below.
This Texas Première production opened in Austin and Bastrop,
and is now part of the EASY Theatres Touring Roster. Info@easytheatre.com
and 512-468-8382 See
booking calendar here.
About the Play
Pruning the Family Tree, is a crazy
comedy with a twist. In this quirky, clever, and humorous story,
three generations of southern women gather for the weekend. Pruning
the Family Tree treads the boards between dark comedy and bright wit.
It is sometimes poignant, sometimes silly, often surprising, and not to
be missed. These amusing characters are expertly and honestly portrayed
by four wonderfully-talented, quick-witted, and sharp-tongued actors.
About the Playwright Daniel (Dan) Gordon:
An award-winning play and award-winning actors
combine to create a well-anticipated and delightful theater experience.
Pruning the Family Tree was a finalist in
the Eugene O' Neil Centers National Playwrights Conference and the 2010
Texas Nonprofit Theatres' POPS, and won the Heller Theatre's new play competition.
This production is representing Austin in the American Association of Community
Theatre’s AACTFest11 which is a national theatre event that brings together
the best community theatre productions from across the country.
Produced by special arrangements
with the author.
PG-13 Some adult language.
Can be presented with no adult language.
involvement in theater spans 25 years and includes everything from painting
sets for community theater productions to judging playwriting competitions
for state arts councils, and he has written six full-length stage plays.
Dan resides in Bartlesville, Oklahoma with his wife/best friend, Tina.
They have three adult sons. Dan earned a B.S. degree in Business
Administration, a practical choice that allowed him to earn a living for
many years. He recently retired from his career with a public utility
company to devote himself full time to his true passion - writing.
About the Cast:
After seeing the EASY Theatre production
of Pruning the Family Tree Dan Gordon wrote: "I wanted to
say again what a great job you guys did, or as we used to say in Virginia,
what a great job ya all did. This was the first time I'd seen the
show with the southern woman's personality in full bloom and I really enjoyed
it. I'm having lunch next Tuesday with our company director to discuss
the possibility of having you guys bring the show up here for a weekend.
I'll let you know how that goes. Please pass along my thanks to the
cast and your entire company!"
Alicia Gust has a love and
talent for the craft acting. She began her stage experience competing
in beauty pageants. Over the years, she won several titles including,
Ms. Petite Texas, Ms. Petite International, Miss Hawaiian Tropic Texas,
and Mrs. Texas Galaxy. She was a radio personality in Houston, and
callers were frequently challenged to make her laugh "snort" on air.
Audience will enjoy that same snort during this production. She's
a very versatile actor.
Lisa Holcomb has her Masters in Child
Development. She started acting only after her children were in shows
at the Opera House. She quickly became a regular on the Opera House
stage. She is excited to be in the touring company of this show.
She is outstanding in comic roles.
Rachel Edwards started acting at age
three. She was in her first show when she was four and has been in
43 productions. Her acting skills are in high demand and she is currently
cast in three shows in addition to Pruning. She’s has toured throughout
Engela Edwards thinks of herself as
an actor first and a director second, yet the last dozen years she has
spent more time directing than acting. She has a BFA in Drama and
teaches acting. Engela played Louise in Always…Patsy Cline last summer
and will reprise the role in July at the Bastrop Opera House. In
addition to Pruning Engela is currently directing a musical and two one-acts
& A with the director Engela Edwards
Q. The show
was amazing. What was the most important thing you did in directing
The humor in the script comes from the fact that these are real women,
not caricatures. So I chose actors who can play these women honestly,
and who make me laugh in real life. I think the best actors are very
intelligent, so I cast intelligent women. The script is difficult,
so I cast hard workers who are excited by and committed to the project.
I knew we’d have to spend a lot of time together to make the show look
easy, so I picked people who are enjoyable to be around. I knew I
wanted to take this production on tour and to competitions, so I cast actors
who love to perform and relish a challenge.
Q. We’re in
the theatre audience, yet we really feel like voyeurs in someone’s living
room. How did you accomplish that?
A. From the
first reading until the just two weeks before opening night, we rehearsed
in the actors’ actual living rooms. The blocking was naturalistic
and changed depending on whose home we were using. We also took furniture,
photos, and mementos from the actors’ homes and used them in the theater,
so we were as comfortable on the set as we’d been in our living rooms.
Q. The dog
is hilarious. Isn’t it difficult to work with an animal running loose
A. WC Fields
said, "Never work with animals or children," but I love both, and so do
audiences. We would all miss the dog if she were not there.
Animals are an important part of our homes and our lives. I knew
that all the actors were good enough to adapt to whatever she did, and
talented enough that the dog couldn’t steal the show. I think she
keeps the show fresh. Part of the excitement of live theatre is that
it is unpredictable. Having a live animal in front of a live audience
just adds to the excitement. Toto had been in my production of Oz,
so I knew she could do it. Toto is not a trained animal performer.
She’s just a well-loved pet. Toto loves people. If she had
her way, she’d be running around the audience and going from lap to lap,
so unfortunately the only places I can use her are when we are in theaters
where the stage is extra high or there is an orchestra pit.
Q. What was
the most difficult part of the rehearsal process?
A. Life itself.
We started rehearsing months ago, because we all have other acting projects,
and we are active volunteers in various organizations, so we had to plan
around those commitments. We had to fit our rehearsals around our
lives and the joys and disappointments that life throws at you. We
supported each other through births and funerals. During the rehearsal
process, two grandchildren were born, a brother died, a friend lost a child,
and husband lost one job and found another. There was a wedding dress
to buy, and a child and brother to help move into his first “non-rental”
home. There were birthday parties, illnesses, and crazy relatives
and friends. There were children who were playing football, cheerleading,
and in parades and performances which we couldn’t miss. There were
family vacations, and board meetings. There were people who needed
our help. There were cars that needed fixing and children that needed
mending. There was always at least one small child at our rehearsals
and various animals, and it wasn’t unusual to pick up a prop sack with
a cat in it or to stop rehearsal to attend to a diaper or spilled milk.
Supporting each other, and laughing and crying together through all of
this made us stronger friends and a stronger cast. The show is about
family, and life made us a family, and it shows in the production.
Q. The script
is very funny. How did you choose it?
A. I love
to direct shows that the audience has never seen, so they don’t know what
to expect. People send me scripts all the time, but this one I was
lucky enough to come across as a first-round reader in the Texas Nonprofit
Theatre’s play competition. When I read this script, it made me laugh.
There were words I wanted to say aloud and four strong and funny roles
for women. The author is coming from Oklahoma to our last performance
in Austin, and I’m looking forward to meeting him.
Q. Would you
every performance should be sold out. The audiences so far have been
just great, and very appreciative. They have cheered, clapped, and
given standing ovations. Audience members are returning with their
friends, and one is coming back with her mother. I have no complaints.
I just want more. I believe that comedy is best experienced live
and with others; the more people the better; and laughter is infectious
and best shared with friends.
Touring Tech: Cindy Thompson
Engela Edwards as Marilyn Casey
Lisa Holcomb as Barbara Casey
Rachel Edwards as Christy Ferguson
Alicia Gust as Ellen Casey Ferguson
Toto as Toto
Texas première production:
Produced by special arrangements
with the author.
PG-13 Some adult language.
Some of our Crew:
Light & Sound Operators: Cindy Thompson & Susan Keys
Sets: Engela, Rachel & Bill Edwards; Lisa & Will Holcomb;
Alicia & Tony Gust; Chester Eitze, Nick Collier
Props & Costumes: Alicia Gust, Lisa Holcomb, Engela & Rachel
Edwards, Cindy Thompson
Rehearsal Assistants: Landon & Keaton Holcomb
Tickets: Lisa Holcomb, Engela Edwards
Light, Program, & Poster Design: Engela Edwards