‘A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay About the Death of Walt Disney’, originally written by Lucas Hnath and directed by Brian Eckert, had its extended showing on Jan. 28 at the Zephyr Theatre located in tinsel town, also known as Hollywood, California. The production was a beautiful example of artistry, direction, production and had the execution and precision of a perfectly sharpened knife.
The layout of the production was set as a table read that allowed the actors, as well as the audience, to engage in the thought process and commotion—as well as the stress— of what may have been a true homage to what the controlled “magic” that Walt Disney and his team had gone through for their successes and their failures.
The play touched on so many levels through the years of the Disney legacy with such accuracy.
Walt Disney, played by Everleigh Brenner, depicted Disney as an antagonistic, narcissistic genius. And it’s fair to say that she ran the show. Her movement as an actress in the play touched the whole audience, although for most of the production she sat in a chair, swindling her pointed finger often with facial expressions that were conveyed in a way that preached a need for control.
Although Walt Disney has been a subject of much controversy, I asked how Brenner prepared for the role.
“I tried to display the truth out of it and how I can relate to the character, and I think generally, especially as artists we all feel this kind of sense of self-importance. And that’s something that I personally was able to relate to. And I think a lot of artists can … I do my best to not make judgment about who he is as a person. Whether that’s like the way he necessarily comes across in the script, just reading it or like the facts about who he’s been throughout his life. So just try to approach it as much as a humanistic approach as I possibly could.” Said Brenner
The demanding presence from all the actors was thrown into the crowd. The flow of the script never skipped a beat. Roy Disney, played by Sasan Ahmed, bowed down to the aggressive performance of Brenner as she bantered him with aggression. Although Brenner demanded the stage throughout the play, all actors were the connective synapses to the cerebral beauty that was delivered.
The producer of the play, Sidne Phillips, commented on how the director Eckert was such a fan of the playwright, as mentioned before–originally written by Hnath.
“What we all found really interesting is finding the humanity in those men that are very ambitious. So, the Jeffrey Bezos, Elon Musk’s and the Walt Disney’s that want to create a new way of living and they have great ideas but just don’t care who they hurt on the way.” Said Phillips.
It was refreshing to see a variety of ethnicities casted for each role which, in history, would have been played by white men. ‘A Public Reading of an Unproduced Screenplay About the Death of Walt Disney’ comes to show that within the art and the performance world there is a place for everyone and is definitely a great expression of true commitment to the idea that there is relatability to a figure that many admire, Walt Disney, and his innovation of a new reality to the world around us and is one not to be forgotten.