AT A TECHNICAL REHEARSAL the week earlier than previews had been to start, the “POTUS” solid practiced on the rotating set for the first time. Under a bust of the suffragist Alice Paul, Dratch, sporting nude shapewear and a lace dickey, writhed on the ground in an inflatable pink inside tube as DeLaria stomped round in camo cargo shorts and a T-shirt that learn “SHUT UP, KAREN.” Lilli Cooper, enjoying a White House reporter, was strapped to a transportable breast pump affixed to bottles sloshing with milk; each Cooper and her character lately had a child. As the set rotated, Suzy Nakamura, who performs the White House press secretary, raced amongst the rooms to hit her cue at the briefing room podium and stumbled over the president’s disembodied legs, which had by accident been left splayed on the ground. The solid fell into laughter.
“When it gets toward this time of night, they get tired and they get hysterical,” the director, Susan Stroman, mentioned; it was 9 p.m. and nearing the finish of the day’s second rehearsal stretch. “Sometimes we laugh so hard that we cry and we have to stop.”
Stroman mentioned that when she first learn the play, she was startled to search out a farce that put ladies not in secondary or tertiary roles however main ones. “I couldn’t believe that it had all these things going for it, and that it was really funny,” she mentioned. Then she met the playwright, and “I couldn’t believe she’s 28,” mentioned Stroman, a five-time Tony-winner who directed and choreographed “The Producers.” “She’s an old soul. She carries the spirit of women who have come before her.”
If Fillinger had been to play a “POTUS” character, it might be Stephanie, the type-A private secretary who’s at all times subverting her personal self-doubt into an exacting efficiency of perfectionism.
She is aware of that her early success implies that she is leaving a very public path of the emotional and mental state of her 20s. Early works are “time capsules of you — sometimes in a good way,” she mentioned. “But they also hold all of your blind spots, and all of your little work-in-progress moments, all of your ignorance and all of your youth. It’s so mortifying to have yourself, frozen at 22, out in the world, just being read.” But that’s been a present, too: “I’ve been forced to become not so precious.”
As “POTUS” nears its opening, she remains to be tinkering. “I’ve been reworking the ending a lot to try to calibrate the tone,” she mentioned. “POTUS” drives frantically towards a shift amongst its seven ladies, who start to query why they’re working so arduous in the service of male energy. But how that change will shake out — and what it can price — is considerably open to interpretation.
Fillinger’s relationship to optimism in her work, she mentioned, is advanced.
“As a young person and a woman, I’m expected to perform hope for people, without having the luxury of expressing my rage,” she mentioned. “But I feel like rage can be hopeful as well.”