Cotuit Center for the Arts presents the premiere of “The Weight of Silence,” a play by Cheryl Allan Carlyle, January 10 to 27 in the Black Box Theater. Performances are Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 PM and Sunday at 2 PM. Anna Marie Johansen directs.
“The Weight of Silence” is a story of survival and unrealized loyalty that sheds light on issues from abandonment to abuse and on the inner child who shoulders it all.
“It is a story of the complex relationships between two generations of women, focusing on 15-year old Grace, her mother Cathy, and her aunt Sarah,” said Carlyle. “The play invites us to ask difficult questions, to examine the impact of our action and inaction, and to explore the resiliency of the human spirit.”
The play shatters the fourth wall as the characters tell their stories for the very first time. They address the audience directly, drawing in viewers as both observers and allies.
“Secrets cause misunderstandings. They hurt people,” said Johansen, who directed “The Weight of Silence” as a staged reading with the Suffield Players in Connecticut, before moving to Chatham. “The play brings up issues that many women face today: keeping secrets because they are afraid of what other people think of them, striking out at other people instead of those responsible for their distress.”
Grace, played by Mikayla Boyle, becomes the catalyst through which the other characters find redemption. A Cape Cod high school sophomore, Boyle credits four years of Circus Camp for her performance skills. She has appeared in “The Pirates of Penzance,” “Dark Tales,” and other plays.
Grace’s mother, Cathy, is played by Kristen Fehlau, who performed recently at CCftA in “Elegies for Angels, Punks, and Raging Queens. Primarily a musical comedy actress, Fehlau is looking forward to stretching her acting wings.
Leeandra Booth plays Sarah, Grace’s aunt, who is disabled. Booth is an actor, singer, and stage manager. She has been involved with various New Bedford theater venues, including Culture Park, The Glass Horse Project, the Whaling Museum, and the Zeiterion Theater.
Dorian, the mother of Grace’s best friend, is played by Sandra Lee Basile, who performed Off Broadway before coming to the Cape.
Linda Monchik plays the Female, the voice of universal truth. Monchik has been performing for 25 years on the Cape, the Southcoast, Boston, and Providence. She will bring her one-woman show, “Rose,” about Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, to Cotuit Center for the Arts in April.
Ollie, Grace’s grandfather, is played by Rod Owens. He has appeared in “A Woman’s Heart,” “The Mooncusser’s Tale, “Trial by Jury,” and other plays.
“The cast is amazing,” said Carlyle. “They are committed to bringing this piece to life.”
Carlyle is passionate about writing and about the theater. She has written several short plays for theater festivals in western Massachusetts, where she lives, but this is her first full-length play. “I have a degree in psychology, so I’m really fascinated with character development and what motivates people,” she said.
“As the author, there are obviously parts of me in the play,” she said, “but it is not really my story. It is a universal story that resonates with a lot of people.” Carlyle has gotten very positive feedback from directors and actors involved in staged readings of the play, who say they really connect with the story.
Johansen, who has also written some one-act plays, began as a singing actress. She gravitated toward directing when her voice changed. “I still wanted to tell stories,” she said. “I love directing and am very happy to be working with Cheryl. Her play is significant for what she had to say and for how she says it.”
Tickets are $20, $15 for members. For more information, visit artsonthecape.org, or call 508-428-0669. Cotuit Center for the Arts is at 4404 Route 28 in Cotuit.
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“The Weight of Silence,” by Cheryl Allan Carlyle
Cotuit Center for the Arts, 4404 Route 28, Cotuit
January 10 to 27, Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 PM, Sunday at 2 PM
$20; $15 for members