Sally Field on Performing on Broadway: “You’re so totally and utterly and completely alive”

Actress Sally Field

Before returning to Broadway in this year’s The Glass Menagerie, two-time Oscar winner Sally Field had only one Broadway credit on her resume as a replacement in the original 2002 production of Edward Albee’s The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? Though Field got to perform in one of the all-time greatest roles for an aging matriarch, Amanda Wingfield, her recently-wrapped run in the play was a major undertaking for Field, who has been nominated for a Tony for the role. Yet don’t think Field doesn’t have the energy for the stage — speaking in the Hollywood Reporter roundtable for Broadway’s Tony-nominated actresses, Field reveals how the lack of intermission helped her maintain her energy and why she decided to return to Broadway after a nearly 15-year break.

When asked how she feels about The Glass Menagerie not having an intermission, Field confesses that it allows her to maintain the energy of the performance. She explains, “Once I’m there, standing there in the audience — and literally they’re right there looking — I repeat to myself, ‘Own this. Own this. Don’t let it own you. Don’t get ahead of it, don’t drag behind it. Just do it.’ And I get the chair out there — even if it’s all verklempt, it doesn’t matter, I’ve got the chair up there — and then it’s such an emotional drive for her, so different than any other Amanda, so high-pitched, both emotionally and comedically, and hurtling toward this sort of Greek ending with a violent place. ‘The Glass Menagerie? What?!’ I’m tremendously grateful that I don’t have to let down, ’cause then it’s driving me. Now, I’m in the car and we’re just going. So I’m grateful there are no scene breaks, even.”

Field is never at a loss for acting work on screen, so one might wonder why the 71 year-old actress would choose to perform a grueling eight-shows-a-week schedule on Broadway. She points to the thrill of it all, saying, “There’s nothing like it. There’s absolutely nothing like it. It’s without a doubt the most dangerous, the most alive, the most thrilling feeling. These are crafts we’ve all learned over our lifetime. The immediacy of it, and really the danger of it — I mean, there is no safety. This is a dangerous business. A dangerous craft. It’s about that flight that you get to take. You’re so totally and utterly and completely alive. You know where your fingers and your toes are. You are completely alive — and you’re exhausted (Laughs).”

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