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Demos-Brown says that originally, he wrote Mary Jean as “a trailer trash white girl.” But soon he began tailoring the part for Karen Stephens, a Carbonell-nominated black actress, transforming the character into “a very, very bright person who happened to grow up without a great deal of formal education. When she gets emotional, she gets more articulate. She has a very complex soul. She has had some real hardships in her life.”
Stephens brings humor and edge to the play as Mary Jean. She has admired Demos-Brown’s past work and is enthusiastic about bringing the character to life through Meltzer’s collaborative rehearsal process.
“Chris’ command of language is stellar. He has a way of elucidating a character’s point of view in a really smart and precise and incisive way. And he finds the right balance of levity and drama,” Stephens says. “Mary Jean delivers so many funny lines. But there’s so much pathos there. Just like real life.”
You can read more about the play and its returning Iraq War hero with secrets he wishes to keep buried here.