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Talking about the meaning of "Fragments"

Jessica Sage is the artistic director of the new Rogue Theater Company, which will open March 8 with her play "Fragments," directed by Liisa Ivary, at the Bellview Grange in Ashland.

Sage and Ivary have enjoyed long and successful careers in the theater — acting, directing and teaching.

"Fragments" tells a story about women who are confronting their dictated roles in society. I visited with Sage and Ivary at the Rogue Valley Roasting Company in Ashland.

JS: The plays that interest me most are character- and text-driven. I’m interested in the dynamics of relationships and the way people interact with one another.

EH: What do you want the audience to take away from the play?

JS: I want to give people something to go home and think about. If people walk out saying, “I know that person. I identify with that character,” I feel that I have done my job.

LI: I want the audience to feel as if they are connected to the characters, and they resonate with them, and they are seen and heard. I love these characters because they are very outspoken and profane. They deal with each other in such an overt way, that there is a catharsis and a relief. You recognize the truth: the brutality between the mothers and daughters, and their deep love and concern for each other. It’s pathology. It’s universal.

EH: Does “Fragments” have a message?

JS: It’s a compelling drama about love, loss and betrayal. That encapsulates everything, because there are so many dynamics that are happening throughout. There are so many kinds of love in this play. Every single person in the play is wounded on some level, and they’re all just looking for love, sometimes in healthy ways and sometimes in not so healthy ways.

LI: It’s about 50 years of women coping with: where they have gotten to now, and realizing, “Have we really gotten anywhere?” They all have the ability to reintegrate the fragments in themselves. They just need to take the risk, and it’s very hard to leave something you know, even if it’s dreadful. It’s hard to go to that undiscovered place and really try to live there.

It’s about female power and how to deploy it without blowing yourself up. It’s a journey, and each character has a different tactic and a different way of ending it. To have the strength to be authentic, and say if something is really wrong, is really hard.

Sometimes you have to violently break something to get out of it. It’s like blood and bones everywhere. Sometimes that has to happen; and it can get truthfully vicious, knives out, eviscerating, and also really loving at the same time, like people you love who are fighting for their lives. The fact that it can be terribly funny while it’s doing this is really miraculous.

It’s experimenting with female power, or the lack thereof, and the frustrations, and the heartbreak, and the joys of it, especially in an emerging era where everything is changing so fast, and not changing at all.

JS: Especially in this very heartbreaking time where so many people are feeling disenfranchised and disconnected, and unseen, and unloved, and unheard. I would like this to be a little bit of a balm.

“Fragments” plays at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays: March 8, 9, 15 and 16. At 2 p.m. Sundays: March 10 and 17. Opening Night, March 8, is a benefit for Planned Parenthood with a champagne reception: $25. Preview: Thursday, March 7, at 8 p.m.: $15. Performances are at the Bellview Grange, 1050 Tolman Creek Road, Ashland. Tickets cost $18 general and $15 for seniors and students, and are available at Paddington Station, the Music Coop and at roguetheatercompany.com.

Evalyn Hansen is a writer and director based in Ashland. See her blog at ashlandtheater.net. Reach her at evalyn_robinson@yahoo.com.

Liisa Ivary, left, and Jessica Sage