‘The Cake’ Is Ripped From Today’s Headlines
A baker is asked to make a cake for the wedding of a loved one. Sounds like a dream job, except it isn’t for small town and sweet in every way Della. You see the wedding is for a gay couple, and baker Della’s by-the-book religious beliefs teach her that same-sex unions are wrong. So she says no, sending everyone, including herself, into stress and struggle.
Bekah Brunsdtetter’s, “The Cake,” which runs at the Alley Theatre through July, is partially inspired by real events in which gay couples have been turned down by devout vendors, unwilling to compromise their beliefs. In fact, the timing of the play at the Alley couldn’t be more newsworthy, as it comes just days after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Colorado baker who had refused to create a wedding cake for a gay couple.
But Brunstetter (who is also a writer for the hit TV show “This is Us”) didn’t write a play about laws or courtrooms or even right and wrong. “The Cake” is about good people with good intentions just trying to be true to who they are — and hopefully opening up their hearts and minds just a little along the way.
We spoke with actor Candice D’Meza, who plays Macy, one half of the couple in the play, about how she prepared for the role, the show’s timeliness, and if there are sprinkles of “This is Us” in the writing.
Tell us about your character in the play and how you relate to her? How did you prepare for the role?
Macy is a woman of strong convictions. She wears her belief systems like a shield, and isn’t afraid to wield it in that way. However, with her partner she is loving and very much a protector. Macy is much like me, in a way. Preparing for Macy was challenging in that when a character can hit a bit close to home, I found myself uncomfortable with the part of me that is like Macy and began creating a barrier between me and the character. To prepare, I had to almost forgive myself so that I could really hear Macy and embrace the parts of her that are me.
What do you hope audiences take away from the show?
In our current political climate, it has become so easy to make an “other” out of the opposing viewpoint. This play shows another way forward. As we collectively grapple with so many social issues together, we can discuss and hear each other only when we remember that we are all humans–who love, laugh, and hurt. We can find and embrace those points of shared humanity— even if it’s about cake.
It’s such a coincidence that the Supreme Court decision happened just days before the show opened. What was that like?
It was unexpected yet so important for this play to be happening when it did. Oftentimes, it is easy for us to forget our humanity when we explore opposite opinions. I’m so proud to be a part of a piece of theater that encourages people to remember their heart.
What is it like being in a play by a writer with one of the biggest shows on TV right now?
We had a chance to meet Bekah Brunstetter, and she is humble and lovely. The night she came to see the show, I had to keep reminding myself to stay calm. It’s always a treat and honor to meet the playwright, but especially when she is a hit writer and producer for one of TV’s hottest shows right now! No pressure at all!
Do you see echoes of the kind of writing Brunstetter does for “This is Us” in “The Cake”?
One thing Bekah can do is elicit emotion. The situations and dialogue in the play are written in such a way that they are real and relatable, and that definitely tugs at the heart strings. Audiences have laughed, cried, and back and forth throughout the play. I definitely see some of “This Is Us” in there.
Finally, lets talk cake.
There is real cake on stage. I eat most of it. Can’t say I have any complaints about a job that requires me to eat cake every show! Now that I think about it, all of us have our time eating sweets on stage — some characters in a hilarious setting. The Alley crew team has two real bakers in its midst, and boy oh boy do we love their cakes.