Patricia Wettig’s New Play Explores Identity, Parenting
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After completing her first acting job, Patricia Wettig says she used the money to buy a typewriter.
Now, her passion for writing is paying off as the Emmy Award-winning actress steps into the role of playwright for the premiere of her new play, F2M.
F2M will open on the Powerhouse Theater Mainstage on June 29 and runs through July 10. The play tells the story of Parker, a college freshman who believes his celebrity parents won’t be coming to visit for parents’ weekend. When they show up unexpectedly, the family is forced to handle issues of “parenting and identity,” Wettig says, as they begin to learn about and try to understand the choices Parker has made.
Wettig (thirtysomething, Brothers & Sisters) says she drew on her own experiences as a parent when writing F2M, including learning when to hold on to your children and when to let go, and how to “parent your children to become the kind of people that they want to become.” The drama in the play comes from the issue of “how do you stay connected to the people that you love” when parents don’t support their child’s decision or agree with what their child is doing, she says.
F2M was first heard at the 2010 Readings Festival, where lead actress Keira Keeley had her first experience with portraying Parker during a week of reading and initial development. Keeley says she fell in love with the “creatively fulfilling” play during that week. When Wettig called to offer her the role of Parker for the full production, a part which Keeley says she considers to be one of the must difficult roles she has tackled thus far in her career, she says she was “just over the moon.”
Keeley (Angels in America, The Glass Menagerie) says Wettig has written a “smart script” with no definite good guy and bad guy, or clear right and wrong. Instead, F2M is about “the journey of discovering who you are, and the journey of deciding to embrace that or deny it.”
But the theme of identity is not limited to just Parker. Theatre World Award-winning actress Talia Balsam (Jake’s Women, Mad Men), who plays Parker’s mother Ali, says her character will have to face some identity issues of her own during parents’ weekend while determining “who she is [and] who they all are in the world together.”
F2M is directed by Maria Mileaf (The Argument, Lobster Alice). The talented cast includes Harriett D. Foy (Once On This Island, Mamma Mia!), Deirdre O’Connell (Whisper House, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), actor and producer Ken Olin (Brothers & Sisters, Alias), and Phoebe Strole (Spring Awakening, 30 Rock).
The production opens the 27th season of the Powerhouse Theater Program, a collaboration of Vassar College and New York Stage and Film. The Powerhouse Theater Program offers professional artists and apprentices the opportunity to live at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, for eight weeks while they work together on theatrical productions. Prior productions include the multi-award-winning Doubt and the “groundbreaking Broadway musical” American Idiot.