By Sean Young
Some girls dream of playing princesses, cowgirls or doctors. But at age 14, Johnelle Sciocchetti dreamed of playing Martha, a “slightly insane child trapped in a woman’s body,” from Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. This week, ten years later, her dream comes true at the Bus Stop Theatre.
Sciocchetti says playing the role was “high up on my bucket list.”
The play, written by Edward Albee in 1962, tells a story about two middle-aged couples sharing a night of drinks and frustrations.
Sciocchetti proposed the play to the Dal Theatre Society, effectively becoming the show’s producer. She auditioned for the part in front of the play’s director, amongst other Dalhousie actresses, and won the role of her lifetime.
“I liked the range of emotions her character goes through, I could relate on some level,” says Sciocchetti.
For years, Sciocchetti has been thinking about the play, building ideas and a passion that after a decade, gets to be played out on stage. Sciocchetti has had the role of Martha’s husband George locked down in her mind for years. What’s more, she knew she wanted Jordan Gracie in the role. She met Gracie while taking classes at Neptune Theatre when she was fourteen.
“It was after reading the play and it was one of the first things I ever said to him, was that ‘Me and you are going to play George and Martha someday in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?'”
Tom Lute, who plays George and Martha’s guest, Nick, didn’t know much about the play when he first auditioned.
“I lied when I auditioned, because I said I had seen the movie. And they were all like, ‘You haven’t seen the play?’ ‘No.’ ‘Have you read it?’ ‘No.’ ‘Have you seen the movie?’ ‘… Yes? Yes I have.’”
But his unfamiliarity with the play didn’t put him off from the project.
“This is probably the most intense thing I’ve ever been involved in theatrically,” says Lute, “It’s entertaining in a sick way.”
According to Sciocchetti, “It’s everything … It has comedy, it has a little bit of violence, it has a little bit of sex going on there, it’s got the drama, it’s got tears. It’s got everything, it’s the play that has everything.”
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? runs March 13-16 at 7:30 p.m. at the Bus Stop Theatre on Gottingen Street, with a 2 p.m. matinee on the 16th.
Sciocchetti talks about the role of Martha, and her visions for the play.