- You’re performing in HeatherLynn MacDonald’s Early Michigan as part of our production of A Girl Wrote It. Can you tell us some of your thoughts about the piece? How do you feel the show is going?
When I first read Early Michigan, I was immediately struck by the challenges it would pose to the actors. There's a lot of surface dialogue that erupts because of hidden tensions, and that always interests me as an actor and an audience member. The subtlety of the script made me say, "This piece will need Wide Eyed's best actors to bring it life." I decided to audition anyway. Working on the script in auditions and rehearsals with some of the smartest actors and directors I've known has been an incredible pleasure and challenge. We delved into the intricacies of the piece right away, right after our first table read, and it was a bit daunting at first. We realized how many layers and options these characters had, and there were an infinite number of ways to bring them to fruition. Luckily, Paul did a perfect job of casting people who could find themselves in these characters, and vice versa. Not that I've ever gone through what my character is going through, but the person I am is very similar to the person Serge is, and I can imagine behaving in many of the same ways he does in this situation. Except for the turning down sex. That's just weird.
- When did you know that you wanted to be an actor? How did you get started?
My parents always told me that I was on a stage, performing, when I was 2 weeks old. They owned their own theater company in Steamboat Springs, CO, and were in the middle of rehearsing one of my fathers plays when I was born. I slept in a trunk full of blankets while they rehearsed every day. One day, I was sitting in my little rocker chair, and they were playing The Rolling Stones' "Brown Sugar" while working on the set, and everyone noticed that I was bouncing and rocking exactly to the beat of the song. I suppose that was my very first performance. Since then I've always been drawn to make-believe. I had terrible stage fright after my first film The Powwow Highway when I was 7 years old, but that was overcome when I decided to audition for a choir solo in 7th grade and was rewarded with thunderous applause. I was hooked after I knew that I wouldn't totally embarrass myself. Now I try to do that intentionally.
- Who or what do you consider to have been your biggest creative influences to date? Why?
My biggest creative influences have to be my parents, of course. They were both actors and directors, my father a writer, and my mother a costumer. Growing up poor wasn't easy, but they always placed much more importance on art, creativity, and happiness than working at something you didn't care about. They are intensely talented people, and the bar they set is high indeed. Neither of them were really musicians, so as far as music (which is my other artistic passion), I've had to seek out as many creative influences as I can. I'm ALWAYS (no, really...at all times) seeking musical inspiration from any and every kind of style. I've studied opera and musical theater, and sing in an acoustic comedy duo, and someday hope to start a soul-funk band.
- What is your favorite part of the creative process before you perform for an audience? Do you have a particular pre-show ritual that you engage in before curtain? If so, can you share it with us?
When I prepare for a show, it's very important for me to become comfortable in the theater. People make fun of me, but I tend to move in and make the dressing room and stage my home. I'll frequently show up long before everyone else and just walk every inch of the stage, lay down, sit in every chair, sing little songs to the ghosts of the theater. You know, act like a crazy person. But to me, if you can make it seem like the stage is your home, you'll successfully trick the audience into thinking they're seeing something real, and that's what leads them to have insights into themselves and humanity in general. I also like to sing German art songs to warm up my voice.
- In addition to being an actor, you are also serving on the company’s Board of Directors. Can you tell us a little bit about what’s going on behind the curtain right now that you’re excited about?
First of all, being on the Board of Directors for Wide Eyed Productions is one of the hardest and most rewarding things in my life. Seeing this company grow from a troupe of actors performing The Medea on a football field in New Jersey, to performing Henry VI (Part III) at the E. 13th Street Theater (home of the Classic Stage Company), as well as producing original works and giving voices to emerging female playwrights...I still feel like we're just getting started on our quest to become a company of well-rounded entertainment manufacturers. And the fact that I get to work this hard with all of my best friends is an added bonus. The Board is definitely aiming high in the coming years, and I'm inspired and challenged by how ambitious we all still are.
- Are you working on any additional projects at the moment? Care to share with us?
During the run of A Girl Wrote It, I am in charge of booking what we call our Dark Night Series. We never like to see the space that we're renting not being used, so we started booking extra shows on our off nights, and late nights after our own productions. This is one of the ways that we give back and help create a strong theatrical community in New York City, by offering this space to others FOR FREE to do with as they will. We have a door split policy, we staff their events, sell concessions, and get to experience a vast array of performances that may not have happened if we hadn't offered this opportunity. If you have an event, reading, show, performance, film, birthday party or bar mitzvah you've been trying to plan, but just couldn't afford...contact me at email@example.com.
Also, Neil and Sky are hosting an Open Mic on Cinco de Mayo (May 5), Saturday night, at 11pm after the performance of A Girl Wrote It. Come take part!