How Much Of a Marriage Do You Share On Stage?: The Bengsons at NYTW
Marriage can be difficult, and spouses who want to parse the ups and downs of their romance sound destined for a therapist's couch, not the stage. But singer-songwriters Shaun and Abigail Bengson, who lead the quirky indie folk-rock group the Bengsons, aren't conventional, and neither is the show about their relationship: Hundred Days.
The Bengsons have been developing this musical memoir throughout much of their 10-year marriage, and the piece touches on many intimate aspects of their lives, including how they fell in love, symbol-laden dreams, and the looming shadow of mortality. Following a brief but well-received run at the Public Theater's Under the Radar festival in January, Hundred Days is now playing at New York Theatre Workshop through New Year's Eve.
"The challenge is you don't get to go home from work," says Shaun about their creative partnership. "We had to develop language and tools to be able to just be husband and wife and close the office."
"It really helps to be clear when you need a husband and when you need a collaborator," Abigail adds. "A collaborator says, 'That song needs to be better,' and a husband says, 'That's a beautiful song.' Both are important things to say."
The idea for the show came early in their courtship -- they wed just three weeks after meeting -- when Abigail was overcome by the dread that Shaun might die, while he fretted she might abandon him. "It's about a young couple and the thought of loss," says Shaun. "It started as a set of songs and it was very personal, talking about our own lives. It was hard for us at first to get over the artistic fear of why anyone should care about this young, white couple worrying about themselves.