The Magician's Nephew (Cut Glass Theatre, January 2017)
Another visit to my favorite world of Narnia! I took on seven roles in this wonderful whirlwind, playing everything from precocious girls to wicked witches, moustache twirling magicians, and winged horses. I was glad to work with the versatile Mat Freeman again, and to revisit the lovely people of Kodiak. My favorite aspect of this work was the interactive nature of our script. The audience was so responsive and imaginative!
The Forge Presents: Ageless, or the Revolt of the Flesh (Quantum Dragon Theatre, November 2016)
QDT, the Bay Area's premier sci-fi theatre company, now hosts a new works program called The Forge. Playwrights are given several readings, editing sessions, and finally, a staged reading in front of an audience. I was cast in the final reading of Ageless, by Bay Area playwright Bridgette Dutta Portman. The role was a lovely challenge: a woman who has lived over a hundred years but kept the body of young woman. The script had such satisfying emotional journeys, and many opportunities for strong partner scenes, and it was tackling truly challenging material. I hope to see the full play produced one day!
It Can't Happen Here (Custom Made Theatre, October 2016)
As part of a national event held just weeks before the 2016 election, Custom Made took part in a national reading of the adaptation of the scathing novel by Sinclair Lewis. I played Sissy. It was lovely to bite into some text again and feel the stage lights on my face (not a common occurrence since the baby). The subject matter, of course, was not lovely, and dealt with the all too real threat of a hate-driven dictatorship taking root in the United States.
A Tribute to David Bowie (The Hypnodrome, January, 2016)
This was a lighthearted way to honor the passing of a beloved artist. I met my Goblin King (Alexiel de Ravenswood) on the night of the performance, and we re-enacted a favorite scene from the film Labyrinth. Something that made this event even more dear to me. I was able to convince my mother, Laura Grewer, and my infant, Harlequinn, to join in on the scene.
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (Cut Glass Theatre, May 2015)
Once again we brought Narnia to the far reaches of the globe, this time by visiting the somewhat remote town of Merredin in Western Australia. Performer Javi Harnly tackled the male roles, and we were both honored to perform in the historic Cummins Theater. Our most memorable audience member was a baby kangaroo (a joey) who, we must admit, slept through most of the show. Because we performed so near to Anzac Day we also had men in uniform in the audience. After the performance community children were invited for a photo op while they tried on our costumes. We were thrilled to perform for such a responsive and giving community.
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (Cut Glass Theatre, January 2015)
We revisited our beloved two-person production, this time with a new male performer. Mat Freeman was a joy to act with, and his knowledge of C.S. Lewis brought a new level of understanding to the text. Together we performed in schools, churches, and libraries all over Kodiak Island, Alaska. Perhaps most memorably, we boarded a small plane to perform for one of Kodiak's rural schools in Ouzinkie—accessible only by boat or plane. This tour was one of the most memorable, joyful, and heart-felt experiences of my life. It is my hope to revisit the region to tour another play soon!
Advanced Playwriting Showcase (StageWrite, December 2014—Current)
Bringing the works of fifth grade playwrights to life! What an honor it was to participate in this project. StageWrite works with students at every grade level, teaching them to use their imaginations and to create characters (only some of whom are human). The midterm performance involves staging the original plays of fifth grade students. I was called in to help portray these original characters, and I had a beautiful time doing it. I especially enjoyed working with Trish Tillman and Brit Frazier.
Slaughterhouse Five (Custom Made Theatre, September 2014)
I was thrilled to join Custom Made Theatre for my first foray into the San Francisco scene. The company creates vivid and relevant theatre, and Slaughterhouse Five was no exception. Vonnegut's surreal anti-war classic provided several opportunities to the actors, including my chance to play one woman (Valencia) at three stages of her life, and a sweet 45-year-old man (Derby) with costume changes (and an execution) on stage. What a true ensemble experience. I was incredibly impacted by this project, by my green WW2 coat, and by the many wonderful late-night conversations.
A Messy Sketch Comedy Show (The Mess, June 2014)
Under the artistic direction of Renee LeVesque, sketch comedy troupe The Mess brings hilarity to the East Bay by developing original scripts in its writing room, rehearsing in Oakland and Berkeley spaces, and getting its funny on for one raucous night each season. I was so pleased to work and laugh with this talented bunch of people. My favorite sketch to perform: The Closer.
Play Reading: White Devil (by Michael McGee, April 2014))
A small group gathered for a staged reading before this play went into production. It was a great opportunity to flex character and accent muscles, and I had the chance to play characters who would never have been available to me in a genuine casting situation. I also worked with some lovely people. Hope to cross paths with all of you again!
Miss Julie (Marin Onstage, February 2014)
This was the final act of the evening of short plays produced by Marin Onstage. While directing The Jewish Wife I was also able to tackle the role of Miss Julie, a demanding role in an engaging piece of theatre. I was especially impressed with our Kristin, Jocelyn Roddie, and with the flexible set design of Gary Gonser which allowed us to stage three productions in one evening.
Tartuffe (Shady Shakespeare, January 2014)
This script was a joy from the audition onward! I enjoyed the fan-play of restoration theatre, the costumes on loan from the San Jose Opera, and the irreverent and insightful direction of Larry Barrott. I also loved meeting everyone with Shady Shakespeare, a passionate, organized, and creative bunch bringing free Shakespeare to the San Jose area. I have signed on to assistant-direct with them next, and am very much looking forward to the experience.
A Doll's House (Marin Onstage, November 2013)
My first performing experience in the Bay Area! The newly-launched Marin Onstage company seeks to bring classic texts to life—a goal I can very much support. I was blessed to be taken on as Nora (a dream role of mine) in their inaugural production (read this review, and this one). I also signed on as a director for their series of short classics. I was honored to work with director Ron Nash, and to meet such a welcoming, vibrant bunch. They provided me with a lovely introduction to the area.
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (Cut Glass Theatre, June 2013)
As a parting gift to South Korea and the final Korea offering of Cut Glass Theatre, I co-directed an adaptation of the classic children's book The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. This two-hander text made use of the magic of storytelling. We toured it to three Korean cities, handed out cubes of Turkish Delight, and introduced many English-language learners to the text for the first time. I would love to tour the show here in the US again if the opportunity presents itself; what a beautiful story!
Hamlet (Seoul Shakespeare Company, April 2013) Watch the Kickstarter!
Director Jessica Adel and producer Lindsey Higgins envisioned a Hamlet of ice-bergs and icy winds—a setting in which Hamlet's surface tensions are only a fraction of what is happening beneath. I worked as an ensemble member and also as Dramaturg for the production. The most fascinating and rewarding aspect of the show was watching the Seoul theatre community unite to make it possible. From the teachers who brought their students (many of whom were seeing their first Shakespeare) to the Kickstarter sponsor who flew from overseas to see the work that he had supported, I was heart-warmingly aware that this was a community endeavor.
Liz Lochhead's stunning translation of the Euripides text emphasized the otherness of Medea by crafting her as an English royal refugee amongst Scottish lords. Scottish director Robbie Quinn and vocal coach Amy Ginther supported us through challenging text work and emotional access. This was a chance for me to perform darker material than I am usually given, to work with age and with my lower register, and to speak poetry that is deservedly timeless. I will never forget the experience.
Good People (Probationary Theatre Company, January 2013)
This was a chance to break out of my typical mold and play the aged curmudgeon (and blatantly racist), Dottie. I had fun with the accent work and the wig work, and I took a lot of joy from the laughs and tears that this show provoked each night. Abaire has a special gift for portraying poverty truthfully but sympathetically. I was grateful for the chance to perform his script.
Mere Mortals (Seoul Players, Daejeon Play Festival, December 2012)
Here I achieved a long-time goal: to play a man! In this David Ives one-act three men gather for lunch on a steel girder, and each one reveals a fantasy life more intricate than the last. My character, Frank, was the sweet, dumb, friendly type. Working with the wig and stubble was a treat, as was the chance to see so many theatre practitioners coming together from around the Korean peninsula.
A Doll's House (Probationary Theatre Company, November 2012)
I gained a new appreciation for Ibsen while working on this show. His ability to craft dramatic irony creates scenes that are deeply poignant. When Dr. Rank says, "Thanks for the light", each character on stage takes his meaning differently, and we as audience members sigh under the weight of its full significance. I enjoyed focusing on period movement and posture for this show, and it was also a chance for me to play more age and stillness than I had in the past. Australian director Liam Mitchinson helped me to make more interesting and subtle choices.
Our Country's Good (Cut Glass Theatre, May 2012)
This third production of our company offered a powerful juxtaposition of class and viewpoint by simultaneously casting the same performers as the original Australian convict settlers and the British soldiers that ruled over them. Playing the painfully shy Mary was a new experience for me—less bold than much of my previous work. I enjoyed playing with the sometimes comedic and sometimes painful opportunities that Wertenbaker crafted for her.
The Vagina Monologues (Seoul Players, April 2011)
In a movement envisioned by Jeanne Fiano, this show is performed each year in Seoul in order to raise funds for the last surviving comfort women of the Japanese occupation of Korea. The Seoul Players have long been supporters of the event. I was entrusted with the monologue Miss Pat, a chance to celebrate the strength and contributions of the women of New Orleans who helped to recover an area devastated by hurricane Katrina. I enjoyed creating a character who was salt-of-the earth, all-seeing, and all-patient to bear the pains of her community. Accent work was needed, and I tried my best to do justice to this resilient and big-hearted people by speaking their words correctly and truthfully.
Educating Rita (Cut Glass Theatre, March-April, 2012)
Every once in a while you find a play that is a life-long-dream that you simply hadn't known about before (which explains why you hadn't yet dreamed it). Educating Rita by Liverpool playrite Willy Russel is well-known in the UK, and often required reading in schools, but I find that many young Americans are unfamiliar with this beautiful text. Rita fell right in the middle of my range. She was spunky, strong, insecure, humorous in her intense sincerity, surprising in her vulnerability, fun, and truly cathartic to portray. I relished the accent work required, and the examination of education and literature (both of which are very important to me, and perhaps too much so). I was thrilled that our company chose it to be our second play, and I would love to do it again one day.
The Importance of Being Earnest (Cut Glass Theatre, November 2011)
The production that launched Cut Glass Theatre into the world! Everyone in the company worked tirelessly to make this show possible. I handled Assistant Directing, costumes, props, and set design, and played the sparkling Cecily. What a truly enjoyable time. You can't ask for more witty dialogue than Wilde's, nor can you hope for a more thoroughly enjoyable evening of theatre than his material presents. Having a Rose Bruford graduate in the director's chair meant that we had very keen ears attending to our accent work. I was so proud of this production, and of what it did for the theatre community in Seoul.
Gore and Madness (Seoul Shakespeare Company, October 2011)
I was cast as Ophelia, and because the theme of the evening touched on the darker aspects of Shakespeare's work, and so much of what she experiences is dark, I was able to perform three of her scenes. (I joke that I have now played the entire role without having to spend as much time off stage as other Ophelias might). This work required emotional access that was both challenging and rewarding to provide. We staged it traditionally, which meant that it was the Ophelia I have always envisioned—the woman in white. I feel so honored to have played her.
Macbeth (Seoul Shakespeare Company, April 2011)
At last the efforts of Artistic Director Lindsey Higgins came to fruition and Seoul Shakespeare Company presented it's first main stage show, in a real theatre. It took the labor of many dedicated artists to make this possible, and I was pleased to count myself among them as both an ensemble member and a Dramaturge. The highlight of the show, for me, was the chance to cast one of my young Korean students as my own son. Watching him take his theatre skills out into the real world and handle himself so professionally made me feel truly proud of my work as a Shakespeare educator.
A Day in the Death of Joe Egg (Seoul Players, March 2011)
Much like Educating Rita, this was a show that changed my life but of which I was previously unaware. It is a heartbreakingly sad and truly darkly funny examination of how two people cope with the reality of a catatonic special-needs daughter. The narrative requires that the characters portray their memories of childbirth, of meeting with doctors, and of dealing with the day to day realities that grind away at their relationship, and somehow, much of it is compelling and funny. I was touched by the script. It's another that I'll always long to revisit.
Camarata Music Company (Seoul locations, 2011-2013)
This community choir allowed me to hone my vocal work while connecting to a wider Seoul community. We performed material that ranged from modern film scores to Handel's Messiah, and we often did so to benefit local charities. Under the direction of Conductor Ryan Goessl, I fell more deeply in love with the communal process of making music.
The Covenant Players (Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, Mainland China, South Korea, 2004-2009)
This itinerant traveling troupe expanded my understanding of what is possible in theatre. I learned to enter any room and immediately find or create the most likely performance space (I still do this). I learned to tip tables over to form stage wings, to find and create props, and to craft characters with a minimum of make-up or costumes required. I performed suicide prevention for the troupes stationed in the Demilitarized Zone on the border between North and South Korea. I did family communications plays for the inmates of several upstate New York prisons, performing once for the guards between cell doors. I toured full-time with small groups of people, some of whom became lifetime friends. I played bunnies, aliens, bullies, children, old women, criminals, British servants, Mexican wise men, businesswomen, mothers, daughters, devils, drug addicts, cops, and angels. I learned to lead a team, to manage team conflict, to celebrate team birthdays, to rebook and recover and send a team member off to attend a funeral, to maintain a van, to make van-time fun, to handle phone and email PR, to file receipts, to keep detailed reports, and to direct a variety of actors in a variety of genres for a variety of intended audiences. Most importantly, I became comfortable speaking in front of any group, anywhere. The experience shaped my love for the people of New York and Asia, and deepened my relationship with the theatre.
Twelfth Night (San Jacinto Valley Shakespeare Festival, September 2002)
This was the second production of the San Jacinto Valley Shakespeare Festival. Playing Viola gave me the delicious opportunity to play a girl who is playing a boy. Once again I had the pleasure and challenge of working in the historic Ramona Bowl Amphitheater. I became more aware of the techniques needed to tell a sometimes subtle story from very far away. I enjoyed continued combat training, and was able to speak some of Shakespeare's most glorious pay-to-say lines. What a complex heroine she was, and what a pleasure to play.
Romeo and Juliet (San Jacinto Valley Shakespeare Festival, September 2001)
This was my first chance to work in an amphitheater—one that seats 5,400! The historic Ramona Bowl Amphitheater, home of the California State Play, Ramona, gave us a beautiful outdoor setting in which to stage Shakespeare under the stars. Never have I spent so many hours at Denny's poring over text. We all felt keenly the sense that we were bringing something uniquely beautiful and new into our community, and that we had a responsibility to do it well. My time with Juliet was treasured. I'll never forget her.