The Mystery of Love & Sex – A Conversation with Ray Abruzzo

From The Mystery of Love & Sex Encore

John Langs: Ray, welcome to ACT Theatre—I’m so happy you’re here. We had a little conversation in the first day of rehearsal that I thought was really poignant about The Mystery of Love & Sex by Bathsheba Doran, which you are rehearsing right now.

Ray Abruzzo: …And having a great time.

JL: I’m so glad! I have always thought of this play as sort of the balm in the age of sexual confusion. And I know that you had some experience on this kind of groundbreaking show that’s changing culture…

RA: The Sopranos? [laughs]

JL: That one as well! I was talking about Transparent. It’s just a lovely gift for all of us.

RA: I was fortunate enough just to be asked to do this recurring little thing on Transparent. It’s based on a true story, the premise: Jeffrey Tambor plays a man 70 years old, who comes out to his family that he wants to transition to a woman. As the story unfolds, you see the fluidity of sexuality and gender identification not just through him but through his kids. Once you get immersed into that world, as I became immersed very quickly, it was freeing in a sense, you know? Afterwards, I actually felt better about myself. Basically, as open as you think your mind is, there’s more opening to be done. When I first read Howard [in The Mystery of Love & Sex], I thought: here he is—New York, very liberal Jewish intellectual—as you dig deeper, he realizes maybe he does have some little biases and prejudices that he thought he was free of. It’s always a challenge, you’re always challenged, and I think it really reflects and mirrors what I went through with working on Transparent. Love is love. It’s two people. And you know, who the hell am I to say what it should be or shouldn’t be?

JL: What’s the favorite scene that you’ve been working on this week?

RA: Oh, god, this play really has some [laughs] … I’m working with Lorenzo, Lorenzo and I have a couple very intense scenes. There’s some physical stuff I’m looking forward to—actually Lorenzo seems more interested in getting to the physical stuff that happens.

JL: [laughs]

RA: Already, he can’t wait! I don’t know why [laughs]. The beauty is, there’s a couple of scenes where [Howard] actually realizes that he has the biases and bigotries that he really thought he didn’t have. And he goes on this journey, and I like a play where you go on a journey. And this is taking me on a journey as well.

JL: Hey, I’m really, really happy you’re here. I mean, authentically you’re so genuine. You’ve brought such a great spirit into the room.

RA: Oh, thank you!

JL: Welcome to Seattle. I can’t wait to share this play with Seattle audiences. I can’t wait for them to get to see you. You’ve had all these tremendous experiences and we’re really lucky. We’re really lucky to have you.

RA: I’m lucky. Doing theatre revives me and this play is perfect for that.

Watch the full interview at acttheatre.org.

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