Actress Sally Wingert returns to 'Six Degrees' this weekend at Theater Latté Da

Rohan PrestonStar Tribune

March 10, 2017

In his autobiography, Malcolm X noted that when he was a young, wayward street hustler, he often interacted with underworld figures whose intellectual acumen could have been put to good use in science, math or the humanities, if given a chance.

Sally Wingert sees a bit of Malcolm in Paul, the young, black gay hustler who pretends to be Sidney Poitier’s son and cons a wealthy white family in the drama “Six Degrees of Separation.” Charismatic and charming, he quickly learns the codes of upper-crust white society — something that shows he has promise despite his actions, Wingert said: “He has brilliant potential but isn’t born into the right circumstances to realize his gifts.”

The veteran actress plays wealthy Upper East Side hostess Ouisa in a Theater Latté Da production of “Six Degrees” that opens Saturday in Minneapolis.

Wingert has a deep connection to John Guare’s 1990 one-act, having been part of a memorable 2003 production at the Guthrie Theater. That production took a cue from the art-world characters and played with perspective. This staging will realize similar things, said Wingert.

“It’s about the illusions, and illusory worlds, we create for ourselves,” she said. “The same way that Paul has to tell lies, Ouisa and Flan do as well. They’re living on a higher plateau, clearly, but they are one painting-sale away from having their illusion blown. Everything with them appears perfect until we find out they’re on very thin ice.”

‘Six Degrees’ history