Enter the Spokeswoman, Gently by Will Eno
Will Eno’s Enter the Spokeswoman, Gently centers on a particular event, but it does not belong to a single moment. I often balk at the notion that a play must be “relevant” in order to be performed — I believe that a piece deserves performing as long as it is beautiful, or truthful, or just plain old entertaining. I admit, however, that the current “unprecedented times” we find ourselves in partly inspired my choice of Enter the Spokeswoman, Gently. When I read the piece last fall, I couldn’t ignore how it resonates with the Covid-19 pandemic. But these overtones are only that — overtones, harmonies, consonances. It is a piece larger than the topic of the day; moreover, it grows beyond even its own ostensible subject.
I first encountered Will Eno six years ago, as an actor in his comic drama, The Flu Season. I fell in love with his characters’ bizarre-yet-perfectly-ordinary style of speaking. Eno’s characters often ride upon a stream of consciousness, verbalizing thoughts that most people would keep to themselves. Such is the case with the eponymous Spokeswoman. While this vulnerability is deeply personal, Eno’s text also displays an expansive, almost cosmic quality, as the Spokeswoman explores the meanings of tragedy, of life and death. In Enter the Spokeswoman, the individual confronts the universe.
This little play demands big talent. It requires an actor who is intelligent, earnest, and brave. I realized immediately that I knew the perfect person for the part — and you see her behind the lectern tonight. Ms. James and I have been flip-flopping the roles of actor and director for the last two years, and no matter who plays which part, I learn from her every time we collaborate. Insightful and hard-working, James brings her very best to every rehearsal. I have felt great joy in sharing this process with her, and now I am thrilled that she can share it with you.
In Enter the Spokeswoman, Gently, comedy and tragedy collide, personal and public commingle, mundane and extraordinary crash and blur and fragment. Though it is brief, it contains multitudes. “This is what I like about the world,” Will Eno once said. “It just keeps asking you, ‘Here is another aspect — do you see it? Are you listening?’”