This is the first in a monthly Chatterbox feature about members of the Bay Area theatre community discussing a favorite Theatre Bay Area magazine cover, which is really a great excuse for dipping into the rich history of Bay Area theatre and talking to wonderful theatre artists about their peers and memorable productions.
Theatre artist: Joy Carlin
Favorite Theatre Bay Area cover: March 2004
Joy Carlin makes a subdued version of a raspberry when it’s suggested that she’s a legend of Bay Area theatre. But it’s true. She was a company member during the heyday of American Conservatory Theater. She has run theatre companies, acted at all the great ones and directed at them as well.
Her accomplishments have been many, but when asked to recall her favorite Theatre Bay Area magazine cover, it doesn’t take her long to pinpoint the March 2004 issue, which featured her on the cover with her daughter, Nancy Carlin, who is also a noted local actor.
The occasion was a Marin Theatre Company production of “My Old Lady,” an Israel Horovitz play in which Joy was cast as a stubborn mother and Nancy as an equally stubborn daughter who inhabit a Paris apartment owned by a man who desperately wants to sell it but is barred by French law from doing so as long as mother and daughter are living there.
“That was a very sweet, funny play,” Joy recalls. “Amy Glazer directed and Anthony Fusco was our co-star. The three of us had a wonderful time.”
That production wasn’t the first time Carlin mother and daughter had worked together, nor would it be the last. They had appeared together in several ACT productions along with Nancy’s husband, Howard Swain. Joy directed her daughter and son-in-law in “The Doctor’s Dilemma,” and the three of them were in the company of “The Seagull” and Sam Shepard’s “A Lie of the Mind.”
One of the Carlins’ most memorable outings was Woody Allen’s “The Floating Light Bulb,” also at ACT. “Nancy played the woman my husband was having an affair with, which was interesting,” Joy says with a laugh.
They’ve even played the same woman in the same production: Edward Albee’s “Three Tall Women” directed by Jon Tracy.
Looking at the beautiful mother-daughter portrait—so far the only time the two have been featured on a magazine cover—Joy says that not all mothers and daughters could work together as closely as she and Nancy have.
“We’re very close about everything,” she says. “We always have been. Maybe it’s because I had two sons before Nancy came along. Having a girl was a lot of fun, and then with her interests being the same as mine, well that just brought us closer and has kept us closer. I nag her, and she hates it of course, but she’s very tolerant.”
If given the chance to be on another Theatre Bay Area cover, Joy says she’d want it to be for directing a huge show. “I’d want a cast of at least 30,” Joy says. “I’m tired of plays with two, three and four people in them. Howard and Nancy could be in it along with a cast of thousands. That would be fun.”
Chad Jones has been writing about Bay Area theatre since 1992. He blogs at theaterdogs.net.
The views represented in this Chatterbox Art & Opinion post are those of the individual author, and do not necessarily represent the views of Theatre Bay Area or its staff.