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I grew up in Lakeview, OR – a little town in the middle of nowhere in Southeast Oregon. It's a very rural area in the high desert. Lakeview is a town that had one traffic light, and it only flashed yellow – they took it out, though, because it confused people. In particular, I lived on a cattle ranch outside of town, where, when not crawling around old barns with rusty nails and loose floorboards or playing on 2300 acres, I was chopping thistles by hand and removing rocks from corrals. At times I felt isolated from a lot of my interests. There was no theater, my family drove me hours away to participate in summer workshops, or see play. I learned that was a good way to avoid building fence.
What excites you about theatre right now?
Badass female roles. Badass female playwrights. Badass female directors.
How did you know acting was your strong suit? Did you ever do anything else?
It's difficult for me to really pin down a specific moment that I "knew" acting was my strong suit. I've always been the performer in my family and it's always been something I enjoyed. Maybe the moment I first felt confident in my ability to inhabit a character and empowered to pursue acting unapologetically was in an acting class during my semester abroad at the Moscow Art Theatre. The curriculum was based around acting etudes, one in particular we were instructed to choose a character from a play from our reading list and present a "missing scene" with that character. I chose Nina from "The Seagull" and created a scene that might have occurred after she was abandoned by Trigorin and still trying to make it as an actress, before she comes back for the last scene. It's incredible when everything clicks into place. That was the first time that happened for me.
I've done a lot--both in and out of theatre. I have experience directing, playwriting, and in costume design and construction. In school, I spent my summers leading trail rides and packing mules in Kings Canyon National Park. I've done the food and customer service thing. I have a lot of other interests, but what made me realize how important acting is to me was the year I went without it. I never want to do that again.
How do you handle backstage drama?
I avoid it. At all costs. I'm a classic middle child in that regard. I focus on doing my job: solving problems not making them.
What's the most fun or most challenging acting role you've had to date? Why?
My perspective on past roles often changes. But, thinking about it right now...it would be a character from a short play called Tucked in Tight. I played a woman who has to face her physically abusive ex-husband, who was loving to their two young daughters. They don't know about the abuse, but recent actions force the woman to ban him from seeing them. It was such a complex scenario and required a lot of layering. Add a very short and intense rehearsal time and I found myself pretty spent. I am usually able to shake off challenging characters when I'm not in the rehearsal room, but I found this one lingering. I still trust my resilience, but I now understand the importance of taking care of myself with roles that can be emotionally and/or mentally taxing.
What do you do to take extra care of yourself through rehearsals and into performances?
I make sure I get plenty of sleep and drink a lot of water. I remind myself to go for walks and runs and do laundry. A lot of reminders! As much as I can I stay organized – keeping up with my calendar and keeping clutter under control. That being said, I try to cut myself some slack when things get chaotic. I'm not going to say I haven't stumbled home late from rehearsal, collapsed in my bed with a pile of clean-ish laundry, and--in response to my growling stomach and my roommate's request to finally do my dishes say, sotto voce, "I'll deal with it after closing."
What is your favorite part about the work?
The collaboration. Everyone has individual duties and roles, but when everyone is sharing their hard work with the team, that's when the magic happens. Also, I get to play make-believe everyday--what's not to love about that?!