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Hastings Grad Showcases Documentary in Irvington

One of the most frustrating things about filming The Acting Company ’s cross-country road trip for their 37th season, Hastings High alumna Sara Wolkowitz told an audience at the Irvington Town Hall Theater, was the fact that the actors never fought. While it was good for them as a group, she said, it wasn’t great for a documentary.

“They drove me crazy,” she said. “They got along so well… There were times that I said ‘Can you please fake it? You’re actors; just a fake a fight for me for the camera,’ and they never did.”

The Irvington Town Hall Theater screened Hastings’ documentary “ Still On the Road ” Friday night as part of a series of movies featuring local filmmakers. A small crowd gathered with Wolkowitz to watch the film in the intimate theater setting and then ask her questions afterward.

The film showcases the Company's performances of "Henry V" and "The Spy" while trying to cope with performing in a different theater every couple of days. The film’s audience immersed themselves in the actors’ world, laughing and gasping along with the characters in the film as they traversed the country in a bus.

After seeing how close the actors were portrayed in the film, the audience wondered whether Wolkowitz had edited out any fighting between the cast because they knew spending that much time together would be trying. Wolkowitz said she didn’t; they just never fought. She reasoned it was because of the setbacks they had with “They Spy.”

"I think that everything that had happened with "The Spy": losing the lead actor, losing the director, losing their set... It bound them together in a way that otherwise wouldn't," she said.

Wolkowitz captured about 80 hours worth of film during her time with the group, and said she spent about one week a month on the eight-month tour. Wolkowitz said it took a while for the group to be comfortable with the camera.

"I would go out with them at night without the camera,"she said. "I really wanted to make sure they kind of became my friends, because that was something that did make them uncomfortable."

Sitting in the theater, Wolkowitz noted that the space was exactly the kind of place that The Acting Company would perform in: a small town theater that wouldn’t normally play host to professional acting companies. The Acting Company’s mission is to bring professional acting and classic plays to small-town America.

That’s the part of Wolkowitz’s experience that most surprised her. As she explained to the audience, she met a girl in Las Cruces, New Mexico who was a theater major but had never seen a professional play.

"That was really shocking to me, especially growing up in New York, in and outside of the city," she said. "I was shocked at how little they had, especially in a city... I mean, Las Cruces, it's not a big city, but it's a city."

The Irvington Town Hall Theater's "Through the Lens of the Rivertowns" series continues Saturday at 8:30 p.m. with "More to Live For," a film about three men with cancer.

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