BP: But even with power. There's a president of the United States, and we're citizens. But it doesn't mean that we're always angry about his power. And he doesn't need to dominate every citizen always, all the time. You have differences of authority all the time in life. It's just that this particular journey, between these two people. . . .

JS: I was just thinking: I don't think Carol would agree with that!

BP: I know that I wouldn't want to have Carol as a constituent if I were a politician!

JS: Hey, easy, easy, easy! (Laughter)

BP: This is good. Them's fighting words in every other sentence in Mamet.

JS: That's one of the reasons why I wanted to do this play. It may seem like it's a stacked deck [against Carol], but this feels really fresh to me. I'm going to self-edit because I don't want to reveal any secrets, but the play is great when your allegiance changes. Who wants to watch when it's obvious that one person's wrong and one person's right and is just angry about it?

BP: One of the things you're always aware of: Given enough rope, you can hang yourself pretty bad. Sort of like this interview (laughs). You can say this character has baggage and you're meant to feel some way about them. But you can also say, "They were given enough rope to hang themselves." It's kind of how you play it. And how the audience responds.

JS: I remember stories of when "Oleanna" was first done and people would have the strongest vocal reactions, despite themselves. There's just something about theater vs. film, there's no filter between you and the audience.

BP: I remember, during previews of the "The Goat," there was something potent about audience reactions. Sometimes it was like a sporting event, there'd be audience members who'd want to take the play away from you. "Aw, for Christ's sakes. Give me a . . . break!" And other people saying, "Shhh. Shhh! Quiet!" People hissed, groaned. As an actor, you can't shut it out, you can't be hermetically sealed off. You can use it.

JS: Well, you can't ignore it.

BP: You can't let it intimidate you.

JS: Or distract you. In London, we felt the audience reacting. It threw me at first. I was expecting it at certain points. But sometimes, it was totally unexpected where they vocalized disapproval over things Carol would say. A gasp or an "Ohmigod!" and you would hear, in your head, a jury saying, "You're wrong." And then it was liberating, because I couldn't care. I couldn't be up there for audience approval. What would frustrate me was that I might not be arguing Carol's case enough. But it was also exciting because it meant the audience was engaged, they cared about what was going on. They weren't bored.

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