Time Stands Still, by Pulitzer Prize winner Donald Margulies, premiered on Broadway last January. It played to mostly sold-out houses for three months and was nominated for a Tony for Best Play, but Manhattan Theatre Club had to keep it a limited run because the company had a show booked in its Samuel J. Friedman Theatre for the spring and because star Laura Linney had to go off to shoot her new Showtime series The Big C. Now MTC has brought Time Stands Still back for an open-ended run, with three-quarters of its original cast intact. The drama is currently in previews at the Cort Theatre prior to its reopening on October 7. Linney resumes her role as Sarah, a photojournalist who was badly injured covering the war in Iraq and has returned home to New York to recuperate and perhaps chart a new course in her career. She stars opposite Brian dâ€™Arcy James as Sarahâ€™s journalist boyfriend, James, who had a nervous breakdown while reporting from Iraq and is definitely ready for a new line of work. Rounding out the cast are Eric Bogosian as Richard, Sarahâ€™s friend and editor, and Christina Ricci as Mandy, Richardâ€™s young girlfriend. Ricci is making her theater acting debut in Time Stands Still, in a role originated last winter by Alicia Silverstone. All four actors spoke with BroadwayWorld shortly before the start of previews on September 23.
What have you discovered about working on stage?
That itâ€™s very tiring! I never realized how exhausting rehearsals would be. It seemed like such a daunting and overwhelming thing, and I was assured that once I was in rehearsals I would understand how everything works. It is true; every day you get a little further, every day you learn a little more and become more confident. But it is incredibly exhaustingâ€”and also really gratifying. You feel really good at the end of the day that youâ€™ve tackled something.
Why did you want to play this role?
I love Mandy. I really relate to a lot of what she has to say. A lot of what she wanted in her life I understood. I like this character. I have a tendency to put my foot in my mouth, and to really want people to like me when maybe theyâ€™re just not going to like me anyway. Mandy goes through a lot of that.
How does Mandy break the mold of a â€œtrophy girlfriendâ€?
Sheâ€™s not really a trophy girlfriend. Sheâ€™s younger than himâ€”thatâ€™s pretty much it. Sheâ€™s looking to be a wife and mother. Thereâ€™s no glory to be gained for her in this situation. She wants to be a wife and mother.
What did you especially like about the play?
I like this story comes at you in different ways, and it portrays the characters in different ways: Theyâ€™re noble, self-sacrificing, at the same time incredibly selfish. It asks all these questions about, Is it so selfish to just want to be a happy member of society, a good person? In the end it does not judge anyone for the choices they make and what they need to be happy.
The play has the Iraq war as a backdrop. Do you consider it a political play?
I donâ€™t. It probably is, but for me itâ€™s much more a humanistic story about people making decisions, about how they want to live their lives and what is going to make them happy. If someone is the kind of person who judges someoneâ€™s worth by what they contribute to society, then I think this play really says you kind of have to question that. You have to say, How do any of us get to judge who has value in society, who does something more important than somebody else?