Significant Conversations

Significant Conversations

Smokehouse Players dig deep in ‘Talking With’


When Jane Martin’s monologue play “Talking With” was published in 1982, it was quickly celebrated for providing meaty roles for women. The play features nearly a dozen 10-minute monologues from female characters of various ages with a wide variety of life situations; the only thing they have in common is their gender. “Talking With” actress and Smokehouse Players co-founder Terry Vaughan says that it was this focus that prompted her to propose the show for Smokehouse’s season.

“I wanted to do an all-woman show, with a large cast, so that we could include a lot of the amazing actresses we have here in Northwest Arkansas,” she says. “I also wanted to shine a light on the work they’re doing in the community, because they all make Northwest Arkansas such a great place to live. This script fit the bill. This show is produced by a woman, has an 11-woman cast [and] a female musician. The different characters range from a snake handler to an ex-rodeo rider to a baton twirler. The stories are haunting, funny, touching — and some are rather shocking.”

Musician Jori Costello will provide live music during the show.

“Most of the music is original,” says director Jules Taylor, who also performs in the show. “It’s really beautiful. It’s amazing, having her as a part of it. She has an incredible energy that she can add to the space.”

Part of the Smokehouse Players’ mission is to support Magdalene Serenity House, a nonprofit whose goal is to help women who have experienced past trauma rebuild their lives. Admission to all Smokehouse Players shows is free with a suggested donation, and, on opening night, all funds raised through those donations will be given to the nonprofit.

“A woman donor who wishes to remain anonymous has come forward and offered to match every single donation that comes through the door on Thursday,” notes Vaughan. “She’s also going to match any money we make at the bar. She thinks what we’re doing is great, because we’re shining a light on Magdalene Serenity House. So it’s women supporting women supporting women.”

The cast are all established professional Northwest Arkansas actors, many of whom have been performing in the area for decades.

“This show is really powerful,” says Taylor, who has both performed in and directed it before. “We got incredibly lucky in our casting. We were pretty specific about using women that we knew were actors and had a lot of professional experience, as well as had amazing personalities, and were hard workers. Each monologue is so vulnerable, and the actors are so challenged by this material. Each monologue is a one-woman show, and they’re dealing with extreme emotions. It’s highly challenging for an actor, and it takes you out of your comfort zone.”

Smokehouse Players shows are performed in an intimate setting with minimal stage dressing, which, agree both Vaughan and Taylor, is perfect for this script.

“I’m so excited, because this is going to be a [really] visceral experience, involving the audience,” says Taylor. “A lot of the show is just totally breaking that fourth wall and [is performed] directly to the audience. I think that’s going to be really powerful.”

“The show works beautifully in the Smokehouse,” says Vaughan. “We use very few props, and the actors are just inches away from audience, so these monologues create a really compelling evening of theater.”

“And because it’s about women, a lot of people think it’s only for women,” Vaughan adds. “But this play speaks to the human condition and how everyone struggles to understand the human condition. So it will be a great night of theater for anyone.”



‘Talking With’

WHEN — 7:30 p.m. Nov. 15-17

WHERE — Ozark Mountain Smokehouse, 1725 S. Smokehouse Trail, Fayetteville

COST — Free; donations accepted at the door with all proceeds from Thursday’s show going to Magdalene Serenity House


Categories: Cover Story