Award-winning writer/director Craig Lucas’ latest play, I Was Most Alive With You, uses spoken English and American Sign Language to tell the story of Knox, a deaf gay man and recovering alcoholic who finds himself struggling to cope amid a tragedy. Lucas gave us a preview ahead of the Huntington Theatre Company’s world premiere production, playing at the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA on May 27-June 26.
What can the audience expect in terms of understanding both languages? We made the decision to do projections for the ASL when it is not accompanied by a spoken translation, which at times in the play it is. … Then there is the question of how do the deaf audience members perceive the spoken parts of the play, and in those cases, we have what are called shadow interpreters on stage. There’s a man playing the father, Ash, and then there’s another individual playing the role of Ash as a shadow, and his dialogue is all in ASL. … In most instances, you’re seeing at least two representations of the event, and that has made it just very, very, very interesting and beautiful to watch.
What made you want to write the role of Knox for actor Russell Harvard? I’d seen him in There Will Be Blood. When he appeared on the screen in that scene with Daniel Day-Lewis, I thought he stole the entire movie out of Daniel Day-Lewis’ hands. I thought, “Anybody who can out-act and out-perform Daniel Day-Lewis is my kind of actor.”
You’ve been an actor, a director and a writer of hits like Prelude to a Kiss and The Light on the Piazza. Is there a project you’re particularly proud of? Well, this certainly, at the moment, is feeling to me like the culmination of all the work I’ve ever done. I’ve certainly never had this kind of completely engaging, thrilling, high-wire environment in a rehearsal room. I’ve never had anything like this. The Huntington and [associate producer] M. Bevin O’Gara have really put together the single most astonishing room of luminaries that I’ve ever been involved with.