The Wilma Theater’s curtain is rising once again this week in Philly, and for their first live show since the pandemic ‘Minor Character,’ there’s one face hitting the stage that some may recognize from close by (well, sort of.)
Suli Holum, who was recently featured on the hit HBO show ‘Mare of Easttown’ will be hitting the stage with the theater’s regional premiere of ‘Minor Character: Six Translations of Uncle Vanya at the Same Time.’ The stage and screen actress is fresh off of her role of Stacey Woodley, one of Kate Winslet’s former high school friends and will be joining the rest of her fellow Wilma Hothouse Company Members for the show which opens Oct. 5.
“I started performing at a very young age. My Mom, Binnie Ritchie-Holum, was a dancer here in Philadelphia and later on a playwright and theatre director, so it really all started with her,” explains Holum. Relating to the area helped when in ‘Easttown’, HBO’s hit show of the summer that took place in the county and was surrounded by mystery, intrigue and a locally-grown story.
“It really was a thrill to work so closely with Kate Winslet. She’s an incredible actress, and also a really generous person,” continues Holum. “I had a great time. I’m not surprised that the show turned out to be such a huge success. The writing is superb. The writer, Brad Ingelsby, is a Philly guy, and he really got it right. The whole cast is incredible, and Craig Zobel is just a fantastic director. You don’t know what is going to grab audiences, there is so much great TV out there—but I had a feeling that people would really respond to Mare as a character. She’s so wonderfully authentic and complicated.”
Going from the stage to the screen isn’t exactly a leap for Holum either who has experience in both—but both formats of creativity do present their own benefits and challenges for the actress.
“TV is such a great challenge, because you often have very few lines in which to convey a character and circumstances, it’s super precise. I love that. The camera picks up the tiniest nuances,” Holum continues. “Theatre is great because you get to go back again and again and again into this world you’ve created in collaboration with your cast. That’s magical, especially in front of a live audience. It’s so exciting to be able to perform for an audience, to welcome them into what you’ve made every night.”
According to a release, in ‘Minor Character,’ Vanya feels like he’s wasted his life, and lost his chance at love. In this revolutionary new work, the classic character of Uncle Vanya gets reflected through the prisms of different translations and diverse performers. Six versions of Uncle Vanya, including Google Translate’s hilariously nonsensical one, are blended together to make one wildly thrilling new show. Performers from the Wilma’s HotHouse Acting Company play many characters – including different versions of the same character – who peddle bicycles, pick mushrooms, and pickle cucumbers while dreaming of better lives.
“Minor Character’ was really exciting for me because it’s the first time I’m working on Chekhov- and I get to do a version where I play a bunch of characters and sing original songs. I was also really excited to work with Yury Urnov whose production of “Mr. Burns” at the Wilma was just extraordinary,” says Holum. “I actually play lots of characters and what I would say about them all is that they are all flawed, and funny, and bursting with hope.”
The rest of the cast working with Holum on the production includes Ross Beschler, Keith Conallen, Sarah Gliko, Suli Holum, Justin Jain, Jered McLenigan, Campbell O’Hare, and Lindsay Smiling. Audiences can catch Holum along with the rest of the cast in ‘Minor Character: Six Translations of Uncle Vanya at the Same Time’ Oct. 5 – 24 or, if you’re not quite ready to join in person, a filmed version of ‘Minor Character’ will be available to stream on-demand from Oct. 25-Nov. 7. Tickets for all performances of the show are available online.
“This show is really a love letter to the theatre. If you know Chekhov, great. If this is your first introduction, that’s great too,” explains Holum. “Expect to laugh with us and cry with us, and celebrate with us our safe return to live theatre! There’s three part harmony. You can’t do that [through] Zoom.”
For more information on the Wilma Theater and its production of ‘Minor Character: Six Translations of Uncle Vanya at the Same Time,’ visit wilmatheater.org