Entertainment » Theatre

Trinity Rep Actors - Matt Lytle and Lizan Mitchell - Talk of Ambitious Pairing

by Joe Siegel
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Oct 10, 2017

Trinity Repertory Company is beginning its new season with Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman" and Dominique Morisseau's "Skeleton Crew."

Called "The American Dream: Then and Now," the pairing of these two shows playing on the same stage with the same actors-sometimes on the same day-hopes to inspire dialogue and conversation about race, class, and work.

EDGE spoke with Matt Lytle, who is playing Biff Loman in "Death of a Salesman," and Lizan Mitchell, who plays Faye in "Skeleton Crew."

"Death of a Salesman" stars Stephen Berenson as Willy Loman, a man who desperately craves success for himself and his sons, but stark reality cannot live up to his dreams.

Lytle, who is in the Brown University/Trinity MFA program, believes Biff is in the same boat as a lot of today's millennials.

"Throughout high school (Biff) had all these big dreams of being a businessman and was encouraged by his dad," Lytle said. "Then he (enters) the business world and finds he has a pretty strong distaste for it."

Biff's entire existence becomes aimless for a very long time.

"He becomes this moody person, not really knowing whether to be this sort of ranch hand," Lytle continued. "When he comes home it seems impossible to get ahead."

Lytle grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio and graduated from Boston University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.

"We're asking a lot of questions about the American dream right now," Lytle said. "Is it possible to get ahead in this economy and our current state of affairs? I think (audiences) will connect to that."

"Skeleton Crew" tells the story of a makeshift family of four Detroit factory workers as their industry flirts with failure. With their future uncertain, Faye, Shanita, Dez, and foreman Reggie must decide how they will balance their desires, their loyalty to one another, and their survival.

Faye is "like the mother, the leader, the tyrant, all those wrapped up in one," Mitchell said, adding Faye is also a lesbian. "All of these facets make for a rich, rounded character."

"Skeleton Crew" captures a world where decent paying jobs in the auto industry were dominated by African-Americans.

"This was the kind of labor that people respected and was honored and passed on down through the generations," Mitchell noted.

Mitchell grew up in Greensboro, North Carolina and developed a love of performing at a young age.

She has appeared on Broadway in "Electra," "Having Our Say," and "So Long on Lonely Street." Mitchell also appeared in "For Colored Girls" and "Brownsville Song" off-Broadway.

Mitchell believes "Skeleton Crew" will hit a chord with audiences due to the struggles faced by the characters.

"(They) will have a deeper understanding of what it means to be an every day blue collar worker," Mitchell said." I think they will be surprised at the similarities we all have just as human beings at how we approach life no matter where we are."

The Fall Rep runs September 28 - November 26. Tickets are on sale now by phone at (401) 351-4242, online at www.TrinityRep.com, or in person at the theater's box office at 201 Washington Street, Providence.

Joe Siegel has written for a number of other GLBT publications, including In newsweekly and Options.


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