The inspiration for award-winning playwright David Hare in writing “Skylight” was, in a word, business. “It was something in my life that I began to meet business people,” said Hare in a 2017 interview with Theatr Clwyd Artistic Director, Tamara Harvey. “And I realized how different the attitudes are between business people and the culture that I came from… the arts culture.” Hare reached the conclusion that theatre writers rarely talk about the world of business in the theatre because, “most people in the theatre know nothing about it,” and he committed to taking on the subject.
Hare was also inspired by the business of theatre itself, as up to that point he’d mainly written epic plays with large casts, and he decided to “give in” and write a small-cast play in a room that happens essentially in real time. “It gets done much more, because it only has three characters and one set. Believe it or not, it’s my most popular play!” Hare said. “But there’s also something more seriously touching about ‘Skylight’… which was that it touched people in profound ways that has often to do with their own experience.”
It’s just that point that explains how “Skylight” isn’t even close to being all about business, and one of the most touching aspects of “Skylight” is, as Hare put it, “love affairs that have everything that is good about them, except viability.” One half of said affair in “Skylight” is Tom Sargent, played by popular Kansas City actor John Rensenhouse.
Rensenhouse, however, had a little trouble getting to access his character initially. “He just seems like such an asshole, which is something I’m definitely not!” says Rensenhouse of his “Skylight” character. “At first I didn’t see why he’d be interesting or appealing.”
However, as Rensenhouse spent more time with the character, his motivations, and his history, he started to relate. “I realized that he really has a hard time with his feelings and can’t come to terms with his decisions or what he’s done,” says Rensenhouse. “His inability to deal made him come off as a jerk. But really, once I dug deeper I found a character I could empathize with and enjoy to portray.”
Get tickets now for to see both the heart and the business of David Hare’s “Skylight,” now playing at the City Stage in Union Station through June 10, presented by Kansas City Actors Theatre. “Skylight” features Katie Karel, John Rensenhouse, and Charlie Spillers under the direction of Darren Sextro. Tickets and information at www.kcactors.org or by calling the Central Ticket Office at 816-235-6222.
–Matt Sameck (photos by Brian Paulette)