Mary Lechter and Kevin Murray are the stars of "Three Hotels," the fall play being produced by George Mason University's Theater of the First Amendment. The play opened Sept. 15 and runs through Oct. 2 at Harris Theater. Lechter and Murray are married both on and off stage, and both teach at GMU as well. Murray and Lechter recently answered some questions about the play via e-mail.
Tell me about "Three Hotels." It was written in 1994 by Jon Robin Baitz, and is based on actual events. It's a two-character play. It looks at a marriage in crisis against a backdrop of corporate accountability in the third world. My character, Kenneth Hoyle, is the architect of a marketing policy in Africa in which powdered baby formula was sold without regard to the lack of clean water or education available to the populace. Once the scandal goes public, his approach to damage-control causes deeper implications, both on a professional and personal level. Kenneth's wife, Barbara, is put to the test by the company in an address to the young corporate wives who are embarking on their first assignments overseas.
How has the reception been so far? Very positive and diverse. When we talk to audience members after the show, we have found that individuals respond to different parts of the play, based on their own life experiences. Most of the people we have met are very moved by the piece.
When did you get into acting and how did you get involved with Theater of the First Amendment? I have been acting professionally since 1975, when I came out of University of Maryland with a theater degree. Mary's a bit younger than me, and also graduated from Maryland. We both started acting in high school.
I came to the Theater of the First Amendment (TFA) in its first season in 1990-91 as the company manger. I was promoted to Managing Director in 1998, and I have been teaching for Mason's Theater Department for about 10 years as well.
Mary has performed in a half-dozen TFA shows over the years, as well as around the D.C. area, and also teaches at Mason. TFA also sponsors, along with the City of Fairfax Commission on the Arts, Mary's company A Class Act: Acting for Young People, which offers a summer arts camp at Mason and after-school programs, teaching children a variety of performance-based classes .
What do you like most about performing at GMU? The people and the staff. TFA is very fortunate to be a part of the Center for the Arts, and we receive a great deal of staff support. The people who work here are top-notch, extremely professional, and a great group of people. We also live in Fairfax County, so it's a real treat to be a part of the artistic fabric of the community.
What are your teaching roles at GMU?
We are both adjunct faculty. I teach Audition Techniques for Stage and Camera and also Theater Production Management. Mary teaches Acting and Intro to Theater. My full-time position at Mason is as TFA's Managing Director. Mary's full-time job is president and CEO of A Class Act. We also both work as actors in the film and television industry.
How is your marriage similar to and different from the one you portray in "Three Hotels?"
Oh, you better believe we're different in real life. We've been happily married for over 11 years. While it is thrilling to bring these complex characters to life each night, it is, after all, only acting.