Memories of Dear Elizabeth

By Eliza Sanchez, Marketing Assistant

Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell talking to each other

Dear Elizabeth,

Where do we even begin? Seeing this play come together from script to open to close has been simply…enchanting. And fun. And exciting. Amazing. A long list of adjectives, really. An incredible amount of hard work and dedication went into making this spectacular production the success that it has been, but we also had a lot of fun along the way! We’ve just got to tell you about some of our favorite memories

You might not know this but the railroad used in the set actually belonged to director A. Nora Long’s father and uncle (Ed and Jim Long) when they were children! We got to hear what they had to say about the train set, describing the different trains and how they used to play with them, and even how one part of the set was “lost” in their “experiments with centrifugal force”…we can only imagine what a disaster that might’ve been! The video is awesome, but don’t just take our word for it, see for yourself on our YouTube channel and don’t forget to subscribe!

It was pretty cool meeting and talking to Ed and Jim Long, but they weren’t the only ones who did a behind the scenes interview. Laura Latreille and Ed Hoopman (who played Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell) sat down and interviewed each other about some of their experiences with the show. The way they interact with each other is so effortless, and we loved seeing their off-stage banter translate into spellbinding on-stage chemistry. We’re not sure what moment is better in this interview: when Ed tells Laura he’s most excited about working with her during the play (and she laughs!) or when Ed asks Laura how she feels she most relates to Bishop, and then goes on to tell Laura the two must be “soul sisters.” Since we can’t decide which we like better, you’ll have to! 

Right around when all these interviews were going on, the play was opening up here at The Lyric Stage, on October 17, to be exact. And it was a hit! The audiences and critics alike fell in love. The Boston Globe called it, “…imaginative, and imaginatively detailed,” and Berkshire Fine Arts applauded the lovely director, stating, “A. Nora Long’s elegant direction allows the narrative prose to fluidly become poetry and the characters to each dance to their personal and at times combined rhythms.” On the actors, The White Rhino Report said it best: “Mr. Hoopman and Ms. Latreille are each letter perfect…” We wholeheartedly agree! 

Robert Lowell helpings Elizabeth Bishop get up.

If the critics didn’t have the cast and crew blushing with humble pride, the guests of the show sure did. We love Twitter, and we love that we can connect with our audiences through Twitter. A lot of awesome feedback comes our way here. 

One user told us the play was “Unique, innovative, and beautiful! (@anniejhawk)” 

Another said “My heart is tied up in knots after watching the beautiful work in #DearElizabeth… (@_AmiliAmili)” 

It’s great having tweets like “Dear Elizabeth @LyricStageCo is fantastic! The use of sound and projections… *swoon* (@skbrownell)” come our way, but we do get more than just tweets! 

We actually got to film and compile several guest reactions post-performance one night, and now they’re up on YouTube for everyone to see! “Full of romantic tension…” “The staging is just magical!” “It was pure delight.” 

A. Nora Long, the Director, shared what she felt was the highlight of the process for her. Sarah Ruhl’s script calls for subtitles, so the production team came up with the brilliant idea to use a projector to illuminate the stage with the necessary information as well as beautiful visual effects. Nora says that working on the Lyric’s stage with the projector and seeing the projections come together with the actor’s movements for the first time was one of the moments that really sticks out to her, and that she loves. The projections were some of our favorite moments too―seeing the water pool onto the stage, or Elizabeth and Robert sitting in the warm sand, or watching the two stand among the flurry of letters at the end…the whole thing was mesmerizing and masterfully done.

We’re sad it’s over, but it has been a great few months. This production has been filled with hard work, laughter, and friendship, and we’re sad to see it go. However, we know that there’s so much more awesome things to come, like The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife, and Red Hot Patriot after that. Here at the Lyric we are so proud of everyone involved with what we do, from cast to crew to the people in the offices to our audiences…seriously everyone. Thank you for being a part of our family here, and thank you for gracing us with all you had to offer. We look forward to hearing from you again.

“Elizabeth told me about Robert Lowell. She said, ‘He’s my best friend.’ When I met him a few years later, I mentioned that I knew her and he said, ‘Oh, she’s my best friend.’ It was nice to think that she and Lowell both thought of each other in the same way” (Thom Gunn, Remembering Elizabeth Bishop, 244.)

With love,
The Lyric Stage Company of Boston