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Dorothy Silver Enters the Digital Future with 'Marjorie Prime'

Dorothy Silver [photo: Peter Larson]

She's starred in Shakespeare, Sondheim and even the Shawshank Redemption.  Now after close to 70 years as an actor, Dorothy Silver is starring in a work of science fiction,  Marjorie Prime, by Jordan Harrison.

The play was a 2015 Pulitzer Prize finalist and is set in the not-too-distant future.  It's a time when deceased loved ones can be reborn as digital creations, which is what happens to the late husband of Silver's title character.

"A prime is an android, who's been created out of pixels to be my husband when he was 30. So [he's] this young man, not robotic, looking very normal but created out of pixels," Silver said.

Nicholas Chokan as 'Walter' & Dorothy Silver as 'Marjorie' [photo: Steve Wagner]

However the play is as much about family as it is about technology.

"I'm finding people are responding not only to the technological aspect of it but very much to the human aspect because it revolves around a relationship between this aged mother and her daughter," Silver said.

Silver is still acting well into her 80's and can relate to the title character's wants and needs.  She is also a widow like Marjorie, having lost her husband (and local acting legend) Reuben Silver in 2014.

Reuben & Dorothy Silver (2008)

When asked if the play's story has led her to consider a digital Reuben by her side, she's pragmatic.

"Well the truth is, he is.  You know we spent 65 years together, make that 66 adding the courtship year.  All of it in the theater virtually and he is very much a part of my life.  There's no question about it.  Not in a mystical sense but in the sense of having known him so thoroughly that we can indeed still participate in conversations," Silver said.

Listen to a scene from the play:


While there is humor in the play, Silver believes the intention of the play is quite serious.

Dorothy Silver [photo: Steve Wagner]

"The audience vacillates between the laughter that is there, not in any farcical sense but in a really deep understanding of the way relationships work in families, and between those rapt moments when you wonder what's going to happen next," Silver said.

Dorothy Silver stars in Marjorie Prime at Dobama Theatre through Sunday November 12.

Listen to the entire interview:




Dave DeOreo is coordinating producer for Ideastream Public Media’s arts and culture team.