Welcome to our exciting series of interviews, where you can get to know the cast & creative team in our Summer Series, a double-header of John Patrick Shanley's Danny and the Deep Blue Sea and Harold Pinter's The Lover. The Summer Series is a true repertory event - both shows perform on the same evening with the same cast, creative team, and design concept.
The shows run back to back July 27 - August 12, 2012
Wed-Sat at 7pm; Sat & Sun at 2pm, in New York City.
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Role in this Production:
Sarah in The Lover, and Roberta in Danny and the Deep Blue Sea.
How long have you been acting?
My first acting gig was as the Gander (uh huh) in a Patio Playhouse youth theater production of Charlotte's Web when I was in 5th Grade. I thought it was SO AWESOME that I could stand up in front of a group of people and recite a movie that I adored, and get applause for it! Follow that up with a stint as Grumpy in a musical version of Snow White, and I was hooked... (on playing male characters, apparently.) Since then, I've gotten my BA in Theater and I've done network TV, feature films, web series, commercials, and musical & plays all over the country.
How long have you been in NYC?
I moved to NYC in 2005, on August 4, but landed in the city on August 5 (hooray for the red-eye!) That means I'll hit my 7 year anniversary while performing this show. I think that's particularly awesome, since I'm doing such a quintessential NY show with Danny.
Where are you from originally?
I was a military brat - I lived in Virginia, Oklahoma, Alabama, Belgium, and Colorado all before I was 8 years old. My father then retired from the Air Force and we settled in the San Diego area. Though I remember traveling, I really do consider San Diego to be my hometown.
What's been your favorite role, to date?
The more roles that I play, the more I realize that the role I'm playing NOW becomes my favorite role. Mostly because I learn more about myself than I ever thought possible when I develop a role. There are, however, roles that I'd love to play again. Namely - Cathy in The Last Five Years and Anna in Closer.
What do you like about being a part of The Seeing Place?
I love the fact that my hard work is in direct correlation with the roles I get to play. I've spent so much of my life working tirelessly for my acting career (paying my dues so to speak) and it's so wonderful to be able to have more control over the work I do. This is what self producing provides for me. In addition, it is so amazing to be given the responsibility of controlling my artistic output as well. So many times, actors go into rehearsal and are treated as puppets - stand here, breathe there, smile on this line only... and you feel like your own artistic voice is quieted by the "vision" of the director or producer. With The Seeing Place, the actors bring their ideas to rehearsals and the director's job is to shape those ideas so that a unified story is told. It turns the rehearsal process inside out and makes me feel like I actually get to express myself as an artist. It really is amazing.
What's a fun story about an experience you've had (onstage or off) with The Seeing Place?
Well, read the answer above and you might get a sense that there are A LOT of funny experiences on stage. Because, truly, you never know what is going to happen with the way we work. Most recently, I had a lot of fun in the opening scene of Three Sisters (as Masha.) In it, my objective was to commemorate my father on the anniversary of his death. Unfortunately, it's my sister, Irina's, birthday and she's doing everything she can to make the day happy and all about her. Part of her doing that involved putting out dozens and dozens of flowers around the stage, and it would infuriate me because I felt it was hugely disrespectful to my father's memory.
Thus, I would make a game out of taking the flowers away and hiding them, or destroying them in some way. One day when she wasn't looking, I took the biggest basket of flowers, marched down to the front door of the auditorium, and threw the flowers into the lobby. She was none the wiser and spent much of the scene glancing around wondering where the flowers went, which was pure delight for Masha. Unfortunately, one of the actors backstage thought that the flowers were needed onstage, so he made wild hand signals to Irina to let her know that the flowers were there if she needed them. She stared at him and then glared at me - it was an amazing "live theater" moment, one that could never be repeated. :)
In most theaters, that kind of behavior would be wildly inappropriate. But at The Seeing Place, as long as the behavior relates to the actor's objective and physical activity, which were developed in rehearsal, the sky is the limit for what an actor can do on stage to reach his/her objective. The result is a living, breathing story every night.
What's your previous experience with these two plays (THE LOVER and DANNY....)?
I helped a fellow actor in acting class by reading opposite him in a scene from The Lover. As for Danny, I remember the exact evening when Brandon and I first read through the play together, and as we closed the play I said, "Wow. So, THAT'S a role I'll never play." And yet, here we are...
What's been the most challenging thing about preparing for this/these role(s)?
Feeling like I'm nothing like these characters, and having to find access points where I can bring myself to the roles. I'm a middle class kid from the suburbs of San Diego - no where near The Bronx or even Windsor, England. There's a physical reality to these characters driven by their upbringing, so it's required a lot of people watching and studying to see how these characters might behave. And then there are those pesky accents.. :)
What parts of yourself are similar to the character(s)?
Sarah and I are both somewhat refined and like things to be structured. We also both take pride in providing for our families but don't have any problem standing up for what we want. Roberta and I are both hot blooded women who have dreams. Roberta has a tremendous capacity for empathy, which undermines her much of the play - and that's something I struggle with as well. We also both have a hard time giving in to truly happy moments for fear that they'll disappear.
What excites you about The Summer Series?
What we're doing reminds me of those track meets or athletic events when I was in school which tested you on all kinds of skills in one day. Friends and family would sponsor you depending on how many events you competed in, and they would get to see you stretch your skills across all different areas. That's what this feels like - we're giving the audience a chance to see two actors stretched to their limit, which should give them a sense of what an ensemble effort is all about. I also love the fact that we're able to do a free reading series, where we can start developing/grooming guests artists for potential spots in our company next year. Even better, these readings will be more robust than readings that are normally seen. Rather than just reading the playwrights words aloud, our actors will begin the intense process of breaking down the scripts and developing objectives, just as they would if they were doing a main stage show. The main difference is that we're condensing the rehearsal time into 12 hours (per Equity staged reading guidelines.)
For more information about Erin, visit www.erincronican.com. Twitter: @ErinCronican
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