Published on June 2nd, 2015 | by Biz Books

The Biz Interview: Rachel Peake of “Glengarry Glen Ross”

Rachel Peake is the director of the upcoming Vancouver production of Glengarry Glen Ross, which comes courtesy of Classic Chic Productions.

Opening June 6th at the Beaumont Stage, it features a new twist in the form of a talented all-female cast, including our own Catherine Lough Haggquist of Biz Books. We spoke with Rachel Peake to find out more about the process of developing and directing such an ambitious production.

What inspired you to take on this production?

I have always thought of Glengarry Glen Ross as a “man’s play” – about men, for men – so I never imagined tackling it. But when I was asked to direct an all-female production I began to wonder about that idea of a “man’s play.” What did my labelling it that mean? What did it say about my own compartmentalization of how men behave versus how women behave, and what men are driven by versus what drives women? That, combined with my interest in separating notions of “feminine” and “masculine” from “female” and “male”, began to get me really excited about what could be unearthed in hearing these words come out of women’s mouths. Not altered. Not made into female scenarios. But presented as-written.

Can you briefly walk us through your creative process for this production, from the early stages all the way to opening?

The process was a bit unusual for me because it was an extended rehearsal period and our designers came on after our actors had been cast. However, this scenario allowed me to really focus on the text: the ideas, the language, the arguments, the rhetoric, for a large chunk of the preparatory time, and then to bring design and aesthetic conversations into the discussion. Once in rehearsal we spent a good chunk of time on the dense text, and then got on our feet, pushing relatively quickly to a first run in order to give us all an overview of the story, and then breaking in down into detail to rehearse again. We have been rehearsing half-time for a little over seven weeks, and we will go into full time rehearsals for tech leading up to opening.


What were the biggest challenges for you as a director in developing this production and how did you deal with them?

All the glory and all the trials are in the text. It is dense text about a world very few Vancouverites in 2015 know much about, so negotiating the realities of the business and how it works are extremely tricky. Also, of course, there is the added challenge of women taking on male roles and understanding what that means in terms of tactic and intention. When it comes to the second point we have sought outside advice, techniques, and counsel. For the most part, research, analysis, and our detective skills with some imaginative problem-solving thrown in seem to have been our guide.

Are there any books or specific authors that have been influential to you so far in your creative journey?

I have read a lot of David Mamet. His plays, his theories, his rants. It is interesting to see both how his writing and opinions have changed over his career, and how differently I come to it all than I did last time I read it when I was in university! I also read A Practical Handbook for the Actor by Melissa Bruder, Lee Michael Cohn, Madeleine Olnek, Nathaniel Pollack, Robert Previto and Scott Zigler. It was not written by David Mamet, but it was in essence endorsed by him and seems to espouse his directives to actors playing his text. I also read some critical essays that form part of “Gender and Genre” and “David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross: Text and Performance” as well as some articles on sales from the era.

What can you share about any future projects that are in development?

I’m thrilled to be heading to Newfoundland again this summer to work on an interarts project there with Dark by Five at the Liminus Festival in Corner Brook and Gros Morne National Park. I will am developing two new works here in Vancouver: Mata Hari with Single Line Theatre (debuting in February), and Point Counterpoint with the Elbow Theatre (debuting in Montreal in January). I am adapting the main stage opera Stickboy by Shane Koyczan to be toured in high schools by Vancouver Opera in Schools next January. I’ll also be heading out of town to direct Miss Caledonia at Western Canada Theatre in Kamloops and The Snow Queen at the Globe Theatre in Regina.

Where can we find out more about you?


Glengarry Glen Ross runs from June 6th through June 27th at the Beaumont Stage. For ticket information, please visit TicketsTonight. You can also support the production through its Indiegogo campaign.

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