Many directors approach comedy the same way they do drama: by developing the foundation of each character and each conflict in the piece. This approach often leads to a satisfying payoff, since it allows humor to arise organically out of the play's situation. "Bingo" director Robert Throckmorton says it was in the final week of rehearsals that his actors settled into their comic definition. "[The performance] was very honest," he says, "which is the first step in anything, especially a comedy. But we just hadn't found that edge that made it comedy." Throckmorton had worked several times before with Catherine Shaffner, but not with Jolene Carroll, and he was struggling with just how to guide Carroll toward that "edge." One night, Barksdale's artistic director Randy Strawderman hit upon a suggestion that worked. To get Carroll to crank up her character's intensity, Strawderman told her to imagine that she was a party host whose best guest didn't show. "We gave her that note during intermission, and when she came back on, it was like a whole new act." He continues, "That was a specific that really rang a bell. That's a real key to theater. It's easier to play something specific like that, rather than a general note of trying to be optimistic. ... She was able to add the comic finesse without losing the dramatic
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