Rehearsals for Constellations are underway, and actors John Carlson and Jessica Johnson are gearing up for opening night. We asked John and Jessica a few questions about Constellations, their relationship to their characters and what they love about the show.
Q. Describe Marianne. What do you find most interesting about her?
JJ. Marianne is very intelligent and able to think about and explain complex concepts in simple terms, but she is a bit socially awkward and not always great with people. She is sensitive and sweet but also confident in her intelligence. Most of all, she values her ability to make choices for herself and is determined to be able to do so, right up to the end.
Q. Describe Roland. What do you find most interesting about him?
JC. Roland is interesting to me in that he is ok with knowing what he knows, but equally ok with not knowing what he doesn’t know. He has an ease and a comfort that I’m hoping to take with me after the show as a souvenir.
Q. What do you think you are doing right now in an alternate universe?
JJ. I’m either relaxing with a drink on a beach in Tahiti or buried under a mountain of other people’s laundry and dirty dishes. There is no in between.
JC. Absolutely anything that involves my flying car.
Q. How did you prepare to portray a quantum physicist?
JJ. In addition to having some great discussions with my costar about String Theory, I drew quite a bit from my own educational background as someone who holds a Masters’ of Science. I reviewed some of my Research Methods resources, reoriented myself with Multivariate Statistical Analysis, and got a “Neil DeGrasse Tyson for President” t-shirt. I think I’m set.
Q. How did you prepare to portray a beekeeper?
JC. I wear the total beekeeper outfit to every rehearsal. No, actually, when I was a kid I learned Tai Chi from a gentleman that also kept beehives in his backyard. He would use the bees and how they live to describe some of the tenets of Tai Chi. As much as this sounds like the beginning of a really cool Kung Fu movie taking place in the high mountain ranges of Japan, it was just a strange preteen boy’s life in a small suburb outside of Hartford, CT. Anyway, it is interesting to think of him and his philosophy as I try to imagine Roland.
Q. What aspect of Constellations are you most excited about?
JC. Did I mention the flying cars? In reality, I like that this is a story we have all seen in one form or another, but, hopefully a new way to see it. That’s an exciting prospect to me.
JJ. I really love how Denise [Chapman] has so brilliantly staged the action and movement in the show, incorporating COIVD precautions while still creating an atmosphere of closeness and intimacy. I’m so excited for the audience to witness and be drawn in by it.
Q. What is your favorite line in the show?
JJ. It’s a tossup between “We have all the time we’ve always had.” and “You used to keep honey in trash bags?”
JC. “You don’t have to have toast.” I know, I know, it’s a little strange out of context. I suppose you’ll just need to come see the show or stream it to find out why it’s my favorite.
Q. Why should people come see Constellations?
JJ. This play is a beautiful and timely reminder of just how important it is to remember to live in and find joy in the moment, regardless of circumstances. John Carlson is a brilliant actor, Denise Chapman a phenomenal director and I think together with the rest of the creative and technical team we’ve created something very special that will bring the audience joy.