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Lisa Jo Epstein waxes poetic about “Behind the Eye”

Dan Lancellotti
Arts & Culture Editor

Lee Miller 1 (Allison Wray) is frozen in time while Lee Miller 2 (Sarah Williams) comments on her life that is past.
Lee Miller 1 (Allison Wray) is frozen in time while Lee Miller 2 (Sarah Williams) comments on her life that is past.

Lee Miller was an amazing women who began her career modeling and working with a surrealist artist and eventually worked her way up to taking pictures of World War II for Vogue magazine. Instead of just appearing in the history books, playwright Carson Kreitzer brings Lee Miller alive in the play “Behind the Eye” which will begin its run at Millersville on April 26th.
Director Lisa Jo Epstein had read Kreitzer’s previous work and really felt like she connected with her. Just before the premiere in Cincinnati, Epstein let Kreitzer know that in a year she would be directing the play at the Gas and Electric Arts Theater in Philadelphia. Kreitzer was excited about this, as it would keep the play alive. Epstein loves the way that Kreitzer writes about real people and tells their stories. She feels that Kreitzer’s unique way of writing captures the way that Millers sees the world.

Lee Miller 1 (Allison Wray) and her husband Man Ray (Ben Spirk) have a conversation before she leaves.
Lee Miller 1 (Allison Wray) and her husband Man Ray (Ben Spirk) have a conversation before she leaves.

“The play is like a collection of living photographs of her life,” said Epstein. The play will present two sides to Miller, with a much older version looking back on herself when she was young. The scene will pause at certain points and the older Miller will reflect on what happened, or what she should have done in the given situation in her life. It would be like watching your memories and giving commentary and what was happening. Two actresses will be playing Miller, but they will be very different characters. Miller is also mostly defined by the photographs she took during World War II, so the statement by Epstein is quite poignant.
Epstein described her experience reading the play and how it made her want to go out and experience more. The picture Nonconformist Chapel is framed with the rubble of a church at the center of the image. However the pillars of the chapel stand tall. These could represent the strength of the British people during the London Blitz. Epstein saw it as a way of representing how Lee Miller never let anything stand in her way and was able to get past each roadblock in her life in order to do what she wanted to. Epstein decided it to make it a central point of the set as she has boxes piled up representing the image.
“I’m interested in the way her photography contains a flash of poetry,” said Epstein.

Lee Miller 1 (Allison Wray) is lifted up by members of the cast.
Lee Miller 1 (Allison Wray) is lifted up by members of the cast.

Epstein does not want people to view Miller in only one way, as “Behind the Eye” shows her in so many different angles and different parts of her life. If anything is to be gained from this play, she wants people to come away from the play and think about how they frame people. She feels that people are judged too quickly and that it is hard to really no person when you have so little information. In the case of Lee Miller, reading her Wikipedia article would do her no justice. “Behind the Eye” is able to flesh her out and make her a real living breathing person.
The word theater, in Greek, means the seeing place. Epstein has brought along her designers in order to bring their theatrical tastes to Millersville. The sets will change around and move will provide a few surprises during the performance.
“We want to entice, seduce, invite and compel…when they least expect it,” said Epstein.

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