Overcomes stage fright, now in Allens Lane streamed play

by Rita Charleston
Posted 3/12/21

It's a dark and dreary night in a small pub near the village of Jamestown in the Irish countryside, a place haunted by legendary superstitions. Four men meet to exchange ghost stories. They are …

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Overcomes stage fright, now in Allens Lane streamed play

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It's a dark and dreary night in a small pub near the village of Jamestown in the Irish countryside, a place haunted by legendary superstitions. Four men meet to exchange ghost stories. They are trying to impress the newcomer among them, a woman named Valerie who has recently moved into the local haunted house.

The play, written by Conor McPherson and titled “The Weir,” is being streamed March 12, 13 and 14 by Allens Lane Art Center, 601 W. Allens Lane. Director Josh Hitchens explains the play's title: “In the small town there is a weir, which is a dam built to control the flow of the River Shannon. It also represents the controlled release of powerful emotions.”

Philadelphia native Molly Edelman, originally from the Northeast section of the city, takes the role of Valerie. “A few years ago my partner and I moved to Washington, D.C., because of his job, and we've been here ever since,” she said by telephone recently from the nation's capital.

Growing up, Edelman said she wanted to do something in the field of science, “but at the same time acting was always in my blood. Both my parents acted in community theater, and at the age of 13 I did my first acting job playing Oliver in 'Oliver' at a theater that no longer exists. By the time I entered my junior year at Temple University, I decided to really dive into acting and auditioned for the big yearly production that Temple does — and I bombed! I got one word out  and froze! That's when I decided to switch tracks and go into stage management.”

After graduation, Edelman spent a few years doing stage management in and around the Philly area. “But every time I worked on a play I had that burning desire to be up there on the stage,”she said. “It was a little bittersweet through the years until I finally managed to get back on the stage myself. That was about five or six years ago in a play called 'Brain Spunk,' again working with Josh. I was  finally able to conquer my stage fright, and in fact, the monologue that defeated me in my college years was the same monologue I used to audition. But this time it worked and got me back on the  stage once again.”

Today, at the age of 34, the pandemic has curtailed most of her stage performances, and Edelman works for The Alliance of Community Health Plans, an advocacy organization that represents community-based nonprofit health groups in the D.C. area. “When we first moved down here, I was mostly focused on finding an office job that would help pay the bills. That was my focus. But the pandemic actually gave me the chance to act again because this virtual performing came about, and it was an easy way to get back to acting.

“For the play we all rehearsed over Zoom, and then we recorded over Zoom as well. We are all in the same virtual room together, and then someone sort of stitches it all together. It's been a lot of fun.”

Edelman still occasionally stage manages, but she admits that “acting has always been where my heart belongs. But stage management was a way to remain a part of the theater when I was too scared and not confident enough to act. So it was a means to an end more than anything else. I think I got over the fear by having people who supported me and guided me along in the process. And having a part that I was really interested in certainly helped, too”

Admittedly, doing a play virtually can be difficult. “You don't get the energy from the other actors. I'd love to be in the same room with my castmates and feel the camaraderie and personal connection that sort of gets lost in platforms such as this,” Edelman said.

“Still, there's nothing like the rush you get when you are performing. It's just so unique to any experience I've ever had in my life. To be able to tell a story of any kind has always been a real passion of mine and a real joy. So even though I'm not getting that audience reaction I love, I'm still able to tell a story and hope it brings some meaning into people's lives.”

To register to see a production of ”The Weir,” visit www.allenslane.org

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