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    INTERVIEW: Mary McDonnell joins arm in arm with Gloria Steinem at McCarter

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    Article taken from Hollywood SOAPBOX.

    Celebrated actor Mary McDonnell, known for her memorable turns in TV and film, has completed a professional 360 by rejoining with a theatrical muse from her early days acting on stage. That creative partner is Emily Mann, artistic director of McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, New Jersey.

    For Mann’s 30th and final year of programming, McCarter is presenting a special run of performances of her new play about Gloria Steinem. Gloria: A Life, which previously played in New York City under Diane Paulus’ direction, continues through Oct. 6 with McDonnell in the title role.

    The two-hour show replays the many highlights of Steinem’s influential career, including her days as a journalist in a man’s world, the finding of her feminist voice, the launching of Ms. magazine, the coordination of a global movement for women’s rights and the continued impact her message has on individuals and communities.

    In Act II of Gloria: A Life, the audience and actors are able to enter a talking circle and discuss their reactions to the historical drama. At a recent performance, touching commentary was offered by women who lived through the early marches for equality, and younger women who have recently experienced the #MeToo movement as a societal reckoning.

    “It’s a true engagement,” McDonnell said in a recent phone interview. “It’s very different from doing a play with the fourth wall. It’s very immediate, so it has this feeling of both joy and urgency that I quite like. I’ve been loving it actually.”

    McDonnell grew up in the era of Steinem’s influence. The actor remembers even purchasing a pair of large glasses, much like Steinem would wear.

    “I was so impressed with her and what she was saying and what she was up against, so I had grown up knowing a lot about Gloria Steinem,” said McDonnell, known for Major Crimes and Battlestar Galactica. “I obviously read Ms., but when I did this play and I started to really learn about Gloria’s personal life and about some of the things that Gloria and Emily and Diane Paulus have chosen to reveal in this, vis-a-vis Gloria’s life, I think it was just so stunning to me to understand some of the difficulties this woman actually faced. And none of us had a clue, and that was quite enlightening.”

    Presenting Gloria: A Life in 2019 is particularly poignant. The #MeToo movement continues to influence society and expose generations of abuse, discrimination and harassment in multiple professions. The administration of President Donald Trump has inspired national marches for women’s rights, while states and political groups continue to battle on several different issues, involving everything from abortion to equal pay.

    Steinem’s influence is still relevant, perhaps even more so than those iconic speeches in the 1960s and 1970s.

    “There is something about this moment in our country and the fact that Gloria is choosing to put everything she’s got out there,” McDonnell said. “And she’s choosing to reach back and get connected to the youth activists. She invites them to come up. She meets with them. She’s trying to give them as much information as she possibly can because they need the perspective, so I think there is something really remarkable about her story in this particular moment. I also think her story at this point in our culture for men is quite beautiful because men have evolved with women — not all men, not all women — but there is a different consciousness about sexism in certain areas. And so this play is highly supportive of that evolution.”

    The actor added: “I think feminist is one of the better words I would associate with my life. Yes, 100 percent.”

    Celebrated actor Mary McDonnell, known for her memorable turns in TV and film, has completed a professional 360 by rejoining with a theatrical muse from her early days acting on stage. That creative partner is Emily Mann, artistic director of McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, New Jersey.

    For Mann’s 30th and final year of programming, McCarter is presenting a special run of performances of her new play about Gloria Steinem. Gloria: A Life, which previously played in New York City under Diane Paulus’ direction, continues through Oct. 6 with McDonnell in the title role.

    The two-hour show replays the many highlights of Steinem’s influential career, including her days as a journalist in a man’s world, the finding of her feminist voice, the launching of Ms. magazine, the coordination of a global movement for women’s rights and the continued impact her message has on individuals and communities.

    In Act II of Gloria: A Life, the audience and actors are able to enter a talking circle and discuss their reactions to the historical drama. At a recent performance, touching commentary was offered by women who lived through the early marches for equality, and younger women who have recently experienced the #MeToo movement as a societal reckoning.

    “It’s a true engagement,” McDonnell said in a recent phone interview. “It’s very different from doing a play with the fourth wall. It’s very immediate, so it has this feeling of both joy and urgency that I quite like. I’ve been loving it actually.”

    McDonnell grew up in the era of Steinem’s influence. The actor remembers even purchasing a pair of large glasses, much like Steinem would wear.

    “I was so impressed with her and what she was saying and what she was up against, so I had grown up knowing a lot about Gloria Steinem,” said McDonnell, known for Major Crimes and Battlestar Galactica. “I obviously read Ms., but when I did this play and I started to really learn about Gloria’s personal life and about some of the things that Gloria and Emily and Diane Paulus have chosen to reveal in this, vis-a-vis Gloria’s life, I think it was just so stunning to me to understand some of the difficulties this woman actually faced. And none of us had a clue, and that was quite enlightening.”

    Presenting Gloria: A Life in 2019 is particularly poignant. The #MeToo movement continues to influence society and expose generations of abuse, discrimination and harassment in multiple professions. The administration of President Donald Trump has inspired national marches for women’s rights, while states and political groups continue to battle on several different issues, involving everything from abortion to equal pay.

    Steinem’s influence is still relevant, perhaps even more so than those iconic speeches in the 1960s and 1970s.

    “There is something about this moment in our country and the fact that Gloria is choosing to put everything she’s got out there,” McDonnell said. “And she’s choosing to reach back and get connected to the youth activists. She invites them to come up. She meets with them. She’s trying to give them as much information as she possibly can because they need the perspective, so I think there is something really remarkable about her story in this particular moment. I also think her story at this point in our culture for men is quite beautiful because men have evolved with women — not all men, not all women — but there is a different consciousness about sexism in certain areas. And so this play is highly supportive of that evolution.”

    The actor added: “I think feminist is one of the better words I would associate with my life. Yes, 100 percent.”

    Script developed by Never Enough Design