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Um, Bethany's Playwright-Meets-Actor Love Affair is Ah-dorable

Laura and Ken Marks, playwright and star of off-Broadway's Bethany, dish on the best and worst of playwright-performer coupling. logo
Bethany playwright Laura Marks and her husband, actor Ken Marks, speak with us about the joys of creative cohabitation.
© Carol Rosegg

Harold Pinter and Vivien Merchant, David Mamet and Rebecca Pidgeon, Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe. (Okay, not so much the Miller/Monroe nightmare union, but, you know, lists of three.) Actor-on-actor couples get all the US Weekly covers, but the best creative romances seem to be between playwrights and performers. Chew on it: No competitive auditioning, the ability to make Brecht jokes your partner actually gets, first dibs on parts in lovah's new show...

While Broadway's Ken Marks (Hairspray, Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark) didn't automatically score his current role in the critically acclaimed off-Broadway real estate dramedy Bethany, he did get to throw the marriage card during auditions—Laura Marks, the playwright, is his lobster.

Ken, who met Laura in 1998 working on Long Wharf's The Playboy of the Western World and married her in 2001, got the part. The pair have since spent the last five weeks shuttling between the show's home and their own. With Valentine's Day upon us, we asked Laura and Ken to share the perks (and pitfalls) of loving, and living with, playwrights and actors. As expected, Laura's answers are longer and better written.

Ken Marks:

"Of all the many, many playwrights and writers I've lived with over the years, Laura is almost my absolute favorite. (Living with Odets and Faulkner in Hollywood was crazy). Here are a few things I adore, and several things [I don't adore] so much about living with the author of Bethany (in no particular order):"

1. Laura looks so fine in a cardigan sweater.

2. Cocktail hour can be anytime.

3. No need to bum cigarettes from strangers.

4. Superb penmanship.

5. The possibility of a big payday.

6. I'm never misquoted.

7. I'm frequently misquoted.

8. She hoards all the pens.

9. I'm being watched.

10. I'm practically assured of…getting an audition for her play.

Laura Marks:

"Living with an actor may not be for everyone. Luckily, I ended up with one who mostly eschews the excesses of Richard Burton, Tallulah Bankhead, et. al. And when he's not onstage as the enigmatic Charlie in Bethany, Ken enriches my domestic life in so many ways:"

1. His wardrobe is mostly stuff he's cadged from shows, which makes for surprising yet budget-friendly ensembles.

2. Yes, cocktail hour can be anytime.

3. His skill set is perfect for kids' birthday parties. (See #2 above.)

4. He quotes Shakespeare. Not always at the best moments.

5. 'Enough about my performance. Let's talk about you. What did YOU think of my performance?'

6. Life is one big long-form improv.

7. Whenever I wail, 'Who can I find to do this reading?' he just whips out his phone. He knows everyone.

8. He refuses to throw away scripts or playbills from shows he's done. Actually, I do the same thing. So our house is getting a little Collyer Brothers.

9. Whenever he's doing something like, say, simultaneously rehearsing and previewing Julie Taymor's Spider-Man for TEN MONTHS, I feel kind of silly bitching about my day.

10. I love watching him on stage. When you live with someone and raise children together, sometimes it can be hard to really pull back and see each other. But then I'll find myself sitting in a darkened theater, watching him do his thing, and I'll think, 'Oh. Right. That's who you are.'


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