TheatreVirginia's 'The Heiress' 

Footlights

Along with directing "The Heiress," TVa's artistic director, George Black, also acts in the production — his first stage appearance in 10 years. "I don't like to lose touch with the experience," Black says. "You deal with actors all the time, so it's good to sort of get back in the harness."

Black says his role as the father is a good fit for him: "I've had a history when I think about it, of playing roles of cynical, hard-edged characters, and this one certainly fits into that mold." Black portrayed the young suitor many years ago, a character who conflicts with the father throughout the play. "I think the two characters are very much alike, even though they do have conflicts. So I think being in that other skin is very helpful," he says.

Of course, nailing his character is only a small piece of Black's job for this production. He also directs the other actors. "What you can't see [when you're onstage yourself] is the overall dynamics of each scene." He relies on TVa associate artist Jodie Lynne McClintock for assistance. "Jody teaches acting in New York privately and at N.Y.U. She knows me and she knows this theater very well," he says.

Serving as both actor and director is a challenge that Black doesn't take lightly. "I would think even longer and harder about doing it again. I certainly wouldn't do it with a play I wasn't really comfortable with. … [Acting] is truly rewarding and satisfying in a different way from directing. But I wouldn't do to the two together again real soon. "



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