Mixed Company’s consummate comedians, Carolyn Meyers and Dori Appel, will celebrate their 28 years of theatrical partnership with “Saturn Return,” a reading of their selected works. In astrology, Saturn Return is a phenomenon that coincides with the time it takes Saturn to orbit around the sun. During this time goals are consolidated and people tend to gain a better vision of where their lives are going. Carolyn, Dori, and I chatted at the Bloomsbury coffeehouse one afternoon.
EH: Carolyn, you just came back from a Buddhist retreat. You’re also doing wild and crazy theater. How do the two coincide?
CM: Hopefully meditation makes everything better in your life. It helps you with the nature of your mind. It helps you to not get as caught up in your own neurotic processes. It frees you in that way. I think Buddhism and writing is the harder thing to balance because they take the same kind of space, the time you can focus on yourself and what your mind is creating. One reason that I haven’t been more of a writer is that I don’t take enough time to be alone. You have to be willing to spend a lot of time by yourself.
Dori has focused a lot more on play-writing. I focus a lot more on performance and production of original material. That’s where my major work has been. The work I do with Dori and “Mixed Company” is intricate and profound. People really love and remember our work because of our strong chemistry on stage and because of the depth of the writing.
EH: Is your work political in nature?
DA: I think that it is issue oriented. If that makes it political then to that degree it is. It has struck a lot of resonant chords. It’s an interesting question, political vs. social issues. One of our reviews said, “For women, a voyage of recognition, for men, a voyage of discovery.” That’s our feminist approach. But we expect our work to be universal and that men will like it.
CM: I was thinking about why we call our work “Mixed Company.”
DA: “Mixed Company” is from a phrase that used to be said in my household and many others, “That’s not suitable for mixed company.”
CM: It’s important to bring up women’s issues in mixed company. It’s important to us that a wide variety of people see the shows.
EH: Has your message changed over the years?
CM: In a good way some of our message has become outmoded, and that feels good. Of course we all feel scared that a more progressive agenda is not happening. In fact, I’m writing about some of the very things we never thought that we would have to write anything on again, like abortion. It terrifies me that this rollback is happening, but I think resilience sums up the characters in our work.
DA: That is why we can deal with issues, and we don’t bum anybody out, because there is resilience. It doesn’t mean that everything necessarily has a happy ending, but there is resurgence in playing the hand you’re dealt, of maybe switching those cards when nobody’s looking. Those kinds of tricks are necessary. If you always just read the hand, things might be rather grim. But there are times when you can count the chips, pack in the deck, and get a better one. Go fish!
Evalyn Hansen is a writer and director living in Ashland. She trained as an actor at the American Conservatory Theatre and is a founding member of San Francisco's Magic Theatre. Reach her at email@example.com.