Post by Anna Troiano. Photos by Sarah Flamm.
Jordan Harrison and Lois Smith.
On Friday, February 24, 2017, the room below the Drama Book Shop slowly filled with people, finding seats, mingling, and enjoying the offering of cheese and crackers and wine. The convivial group of theatre-goers and theatre-readers awaited the arrival of award-winning playwright Jordan Harrison and celebrated actress of stage and screen Lois Smith to commemorate the recent publication of Harrison’s Pulitzer Prize-nominated play Marjorie Prime.
At 5:00pm, Steven McCasland, events coordinator at the shop, announced the expected guests, and everyone took their seats in the cozy black box theatre. Harrison and Smith began the evening with a reading from the play. Smith had starred as the titular character in the 2015 production at Playwrights Horizons, later reprising her role for the film adaptation, which premiered this past January at the Sundance Film Festival with co-stars Jon Hamm, Geena Davis, and Tim Robbins.
“Was I as good as Jon Hamm?” Harrison asked Smith after reading the excerpt.
Steven McCasland, Harrison, and Smith.
After the reading, Harrison discussed his interest in writing this distinctly science fiction-based, yet intrinsically human play. “For five or six years, I’ve thought that the great story of our time is the difference between the analog world and the digital world, and our memory of that transition,” said Harrison. “We’re the only ones to straddle those two worlds.”
In attendance was the film’s director Michael Almereyda, who also adapted the play for film — which prompted Harrison to discuss the difference between telling the story on stage and on the screen:
“It’s funny that all of my past work have been grand plays with lots of sets and special effects, and the play where it’s mostly just characters on a couch the whole time gets adapted into a movie... When I wrote it, I was interested in writing a play where the special effects are actually flesh and blood people.”
Smith and Harrison.
The fascinating conversation came to a close and the attendees formed a long line upstairs to have their copies of Marjorie Prime signed by both the playwright and the actress. In the interim before the film receives a wide release, be sure to purchase a copy from the TCG Bookstore to slake your curiosity for this uniquely-crafted work of science fiction.