Everyman Theatre’s Beth Hylton is one of the Baltimore theater community’s indomitable powerhouse actresses. The DC-based member of the Everyman resident company recently chatted with Baltimore OUTloud regarding her upcoming role in Donald Margulies’ Dinner with Friends – the tale of a fabulous dinner at the home of food writers Gabe and Karen which abruptly comes to a halt when Beth drops the bomb that husband Tom wants out of their 12-year marriage. Both couples suddenly find themselves grappling with questions of loyalty, individuality, and commitment.
Frankie Kujawa: What can audiences expect from this upcoming performance of Dinner with Friends?
Beth Hylton: The characters in the play are so well written, so rich and layered. The play has a lot to say about marriage, relationships, and friendship: we hope the audience will leave thinking and talking about their own lives. The play is also a lot about the things that connect us, and how we care for the ones we love. And food: the play is underlined with the gift of food – how we use food to love and nurture ourselves and others.
You play Karen …
Oh I love Karen so much! Karen is a caretaker: caring for her family, her friends, tending to her recipes even with such love and attention to detail. She is carving out a safe space for the ones she loves: when her friend Beth’s happiness and safety is threatened (she is going through a messy divorce), Karen instinctively circles the wagons before thinking through some of the consequences to her own life and marriage. That impulsivity coming from such a strong place of love is one I find very relatable, very human. She is making mistakes (all of the characters in this play are recognizably fallible) but fumbling forwards with great love.
What message do you think audiences will leave with?
I think everyone will leave seeking greater connection and communication with the people who fill up their lives. And probably anxious to make some good meals and savor them with loved ones.
As an actress, what was it like working on such an emotional roller coaster such as this performance? What were some of the challenges?
The best thing about being an actor is working opposite other actors who inspire me to deepen the work, and to reach higher upwards from within a place of groundedness and truth. I cannot say enough good words about my fellow actors in this play. I do indeed take a ride on this play, but I can lock eyes with Megan [Anderson], Danny [Gavigan] and Scott [McLean] and give over and go kind of effortlessly. It’s a super intimate play, and Vinny [Lancisi, director] helped us craft a lot of honesty; now the job is to share that with the audience. I look forward to the journey of this play, and how it will grow right up to the final performance.
In your opinion, why do you think a performance such as this is relevant in today’s world?
In today’s world of social media, of crafting “optics” and quick sound bites, of political strife and rage, an intimate play about connection and love and care-taking to me could not be more relevant. To take the time to sit for a little under two hours and bear witness to people grappling with the big life questions that underpin our most intimate relationships seems even more essential now than when it was written 20 years ago. I hope the audiences feel so as well.
For more info and tickets visit Everymantheatre.org.
- Since 2011, arts writer Frankie Kujawa has covered a wide scope of entertainment stories and celebrity interviews. From the late Carrie Fisher and LGBTQ icon George Takei to comedians Lily Tomlin and Kathy Griffin to performer Idina Menzel, Kujawa’s candid interview ability brings readers past the byline and into the heart of the story. His unbiased previews of Baltimore-Washington’s theatre scene have allowed readers an inside glimpse of today’s most popular local and national performances. A Baltimore-native, Kujawa is proud to call Charm City his home.