When I was asked to be in this production, I had this very enthusiastic pleading from Morgan and Quinn. And I'd auditioned for Wily West several times before; so when the call came, it was like, "Finally!" There is a fantastic stable of actors behind this production, and to have a chance to take on several challenging roles was very exciting. The subject matter is very topical right now, and the stories we're presenting here have a very broad range, but all hit home in their own way that I find appealing.
You can't ignore the timing of this production, in light of recent events, right? So, to be a part of the dialogue and to present these stories and anticipate our audience's feedback will be very exciting.
What is the greatest challenge you face with this show?
Getting my lines down, I think! Its quite a challenge to work on getting lines down with so many other distractions out there. I've had to perfect my own method of line memorization over the years, of course. But with a show where I'm playing five different characters, each one's story, history, purpose and life on stage presents another challenge; one where making specific choices (as with any character) and defining each role - will be quite a challenge.
What kind of research are doing to prepare?
Not that I don't research, because I love that process and am very good at it; for this, I'm giving myself a break. In other words, my main way of approaching this is to look at this as something that is supposed to be fun, and take a break from the heavier stuff I've been doing over the last year. I have been asking around as to whether I can talk to people who have had similar experiences. I've been thinking a lot about my own personal experiences and have been drawing some parallels, of course. So, emotionally speaking, I'm right there with the characters as they go through their story.
What have been some of your favorite previous roles (or productions you have been involved with)?
Oh, where to start? There have been many. Last year I worked with Thrillpeddlers and did "Marat/Sade" with a fantastic group of artists. I played the Nurse, with no dialogue, and all stage action. It was a lesson in stillness, observation, and brute force. I was on stage for the entire 2 hours. I still get people telling me how much they loved that production.
I think I'll always reference my very first play, "Romeo & Juliet" as the moment when I really thought, "this is what I want to to." I had been through several rough years as a teenager, and had finally left high school and enrolled at Santa Rosa Junior College. In 1991, I auditioned for this production and to my surprise was cast. What I find so fascinating now is that - for those of you who knew him - Michael Ward was in this show with me. Even then, he was an inspiring and passionate force, and his acting was kinetic. Very recently, before he passed, we reunited and we were able to reflect on our friendship and careers in theatre. It was really a special family of people who came together very night and lived this story. I still think on the friendships and snapshots of emotion or action in my mind, and I'd call that the genesis of my acting career.
Since this play is about the right to marry what are some of your personal feelings regarding marriage that you would be willing to share?
Having never been married, I do get a sense from others what the joy is, and what the challenges are. I only know that being free to love whomever I want to love is paramount. I don't believe it should be imposed, and it shouldn't be taken away, either. I suppose the bigger question for me is whether I want to be married, someday. And that would be "yes."
What do you hope audiences will take from this production?
Each of these scenes speak to someone's truth, and whether you agree, or sympathize, or find it outside of your understanding, these short plays do move. I think there is something here for everyone. I don't think it hits you over the head either, and it lets the audience decide for themselves, what to take from it.
We're in such an important moment in history; it's impossible to overlook that struggle for equality. So, I just hope it opens up someone's heart and changes their mind. After all, as an artist, we are here to incite debate and present different points of view, yes?