Gloria Steinem, Watching Herself Onstage, Knows She’s in Good Hands

Theater

You were so brilliant in that.

STEINEM I rest my case. If she can do that, she can do anything.

LAHTI I’m not intending to do a perfect impersonation. It’s more the essence of Gloria. I’m not trying to copy her voice — nothing like that.

STEINEM Which is good because I’m very monotone.

LAHTI She’s so not. She’s so warm and full of life and humor. But I’m thinking wigs and glasses will help a lot.

Aviator glasses?

LAHTI Yes, at least for the very beginning.

Gloria, Mary Kathryn Nagle told me you became friends after you went to one of her plays. How much of a theater person are you?

STEINEM I grew up being a movie person, because there wasn’t theater available.

LAHTI We go to musicals a lot together — like, the ones that none of our other friends will go to. We went to “Beautiful” together, weeping. “Bridges of Madison County,” weeping. Then we went to one that we disagreed on whether we liked it or not, which we don’t need to say.

STEINEM I had just come from spending two or three hours with Julie Taymor, who is the smartest, fastest person on earth. If I hadn’t just come from being with Julie, I probably would have liked it better.

You wrote in “My Life on the Road” that “people in the same room understand and empathize with each other in a way that isn’t possible on the page or screen.” Is that part of why you said yes to a play?

STEINEM It is. When I started to speak in public, I would leave at least as much time for discussion because that was less terrifying. And, in that way, I discovered that audiences have a life of their own. I also learned from living in India that talking circles are the crucible of human contact and change. I mean, we haven’t been sitting around campfires for hundreds of thousands of years for nothing.

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