by Rita Charleston
“The Lady From Dubuque,” written by Edward Albee and directed by Scott Jones, takes the stage at Allens Lane on weekends, March 6 through 21. According to actor/director/model Jones, the plot revolves around three couples who meet in someone’s house to play dangerous word games, but mounting tensions drive the guests to leave. The following day a mysterious woman and her companion appear. The woman asks, “Are we in time? Is this the place?”
But Jones adds, “Who is she; who is her companion, and why is she here? One of the things I find most interesting about this play is that everybody who sees it makes up their own minds as to who these people are, and the fact is that there are no fixed answers.”
Born in Annapolis and raised in Philadelphia, Jones, 65, says his original ambition was to become a Forest Ranger, but when he was cast in an elementary school production, he soon turned his mind to acting. The only problem he had with the play was that he missed his entrance. “But that didn’t turn me off, and I promised myself I’d never miss an entrance again.”
In 1970, Jones was out auditioning for any number of productions. One day he tried out for a role in “As You Like It” at Beaver College (now Arcadia University). “While there I met a man named Christopher Applegate, who was looking to start his own theater company. Well, we both got parts in the show, became friends, and a year later Chris did form his own company called The Philadelphia Repertory Company. (The name now belongs to a different acting company.) Our company lasted for about three years, and it was a lot of fun We even had a subgroup called Second Sight Theater Laboratory, which was for improvisation. “
At the time, Applegate was studying acting at Villanova University, and after classes he would return to his acting company to teach the members what he was learning in school. Jones says he also learned how to direct at a New Jersey theater from a man named Charles Buchwald, who was taking directing courses at Temple and then would teach what he knew to his band of actors.
Today, Jones is quite well known in the region’s theater community as both an accomplished actor and director. Among the many productions he has either directed or acted in were “The Lady From Dubuque,” which he both directed and acted in about 20 years ago at the Players Club of Swarthmore.
“One of the challenges this time around is getting the actors to understand the ambiguity with a lot of the questions posed,” he said. “Normally, actors create a backstory for their characters and go on from there. But this time, I asked at least two of the actors not to use that strategy but to simply present their characters to the audience, and let the audience decide who their characters are and what they are doing.”
In his theater career, Jones has won several awards, including “Best Actor, New Jersey Theater League,” “Best Play, Eastern Pennsylvania Play Competition,” “Best Director, Eastern Pennsylvania Play Competition,” and more.
“I love it all, but I must confess that acting is a lot easier than directing. I just have to learn my lines and concentrate on my partner. On the other hand, a lot of people prefer to direct, so it depends on one’s point of view. But in either case, it’s all challenging and brings me great joy.”
Tickets for “The Lady From Dubuque” are $20 with reservations or $25 at the door. Call 215-248-0546 for more information.