Michael Evan Haney, director of the heated and engaging drama Freud’s Last Session by Mark St. Germain, expresses his secrets of directing the show and what he wishes he could ask the legendary characters of almost 70 years ago.
Q: What about the show made you agree to direct Freud’s Last Session at Ensemble Theatre?
A: I saw the Off-Broadway production in New York last year. I thought it was an exciting evening of theatre that would work well for Cincinnati audiences–the ideas of two great minds, two iconic figures of 20th Century thought, in a respectful debate on the existence of God. So, I suggested the play to Lynn (ETC’s Producing Artistic Director) for this season.
Q: If you could choose a favorite part of the play, what would it be?
A: There are so many and the play flows so easily from one idea to another, that it is hard to separate. I love the air raid section and what it reveals of both characters. I also find myself extremely moved by the last section of the play. It is beautifully written and beautifully played by Barry Mulholland and Bruce Cromer.Watch the Fox 19 Interview with Director Michael Haney and Barry Mulholland here.
Q: What has been the most challenging aspect of directing Freud’s Last Session?
A: The most challenging aspect of directing Freud’s Last Session is to keep the play active. Activity can mean many varied things. The physical moves of the actors—so that they are not simply seated and talking all night. The activity of their minds—how ideas excite them, move them and drive them to argue and debate. The imposing threats of war intruding on Freud’s study. Balancing all of these activities to tell the story of this momentous meeting.
Q: If you could ask Freud one question with unlimited time to answer, what would you ask?
A: What do you think of your work now—70 years after your death? What ideas would you stand by and which would you alter?
Q: If you could ask C. S. Lewis one question with unlimited time to answer, what would you ask?
A: So, were you right? Is there a God and a Heaven?
Q: What do you hope people will take away from the play?
A: I want the audience to be stimulated by the discussion and think about the big questions. I also want them to appreciate the power and beauty of extended civil argument—something we lack to a great extent in this sound-bite world of today.