Featured Theatre Thoughts

Roles We Would Explore Again

This was a fun one. This week on the podcast we talked about what roles we wouldn’t mind revisiting and why.

Ashley went first, picking the role of Evelyn in Neil LaBute’s The Shape of Things

I was cast in this show in 2006 when I was 18. It was the second show of my freshman year in college and I was so pumped to get the role.

Ashley as Evelyn
The Shape of Things, 2006

Up until this point in my acting education, I had always been cast in the Ingenue roles which I was super grateful for but felt I could do more if given the chance.

Then the cast list for The Shape of Things came out and I couldn’t believe who I was cast as.

I won’t go into the plot of the show here, but as an actor, this character is a fun, deep dive into what is right and wrong when it comes to making one’s art.

Why would I revisit it?
I have a few reasons. One, I was 18 and had no idea about anything in the world at all. As a young actor, I also had a hard time separating my feelings about this character with my performance. Evelyn does some things in this show that most people would say makes her a horrible human. Back in 2006 I agreed with that and I feel like it hindered my performance.

It taught me you always have to be on your character’s side. Learn why they do the things they do and reconcile that in your mind.

Another reason is feminism.
I had no idea what it meant when I was 18. I also was so naively unaware of how this particular playwright portrays women. Now that I am older I feel completely different about LaBute’s works and take them with a grain of salt. He doesn’t represent women in the best way.

The Shape of Things, 2006

When I played Evelyn I couldn’t help but play up the “bitch” side of her because the script is easily written that way. And if you aren’t careful, you will miss the complexities of the characters in this show hidden under LaBute’s misogyny.

Then, Kayla discussed her pick: Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream

I had just finished my first year of college, when Shakes by the Bay, a former theatre organization that was based in Panama City, Florida, announced A Midsummer Night’s Dream as the first of their summer productions. I knew nothing of the play except that there were FAIRIES, and I desperately wanted to be one. After all, I already knew I wasn’t the leading lady type, I was a character actress and I loved the idea of exploring a fun, fantastical character.

I did NOT expect to be cast as Titania, the fairy QUEEN, but I was thrilled. Titania is a huge role with TONS of possibilities; I nabbed a character role that was also a lead role. YES!

Kayla as Titania and our friend Nathan as Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Why would I revisit it?
Because, like Ashley, I was very young. Merely 19 years old and I’m pretty sure I still had braces. At the time, I remember thinking how TOTALLY out of character that was, but I failed to talk my orthodontist into removing my braces early so, I had to roll with it.

This was my third Shakespeare show, but again, I hadn’t taken any Shakespeare or period-style acting classes. I also didn’t realize the size of the role. I had a difficult time committing the text to memory and probably was being a bit lazy about it if I recall correctly. My director threatened to cut the lines I couldn’t remember, which would ultimately reduce my stage time (THE HORROR). So, when I was still struggling with my lines several days after the off-book date, she did not hold back. Every time I struggled with a line, she cut it. That was a tough rehearsal, and I’m pretty sure I cried in my car on the way home, but it taught me a great lesson: memorize your shit BEFORE the off-book date. You’ll be a better actor for it in the long-run.

As you can imagine, if I was struggling with the text, I was no where NEAR ready to dive into the role. At that age, I relied too much on my natural acting abilities and cut corners when it came to research and character study. I was good at making bold choices and being “big” on stage, and that’s about it.

I would love to play this role again. Not only do I have way more training (and integrity, for that matter), but I’m also a mom. Now, I relate to Titania and her love for the child in a way I couldn’t even imagine before having Matilda (yes, I know she stole it, but let’s not worry about that little tidbit of info right now).

You can listen to more of our musings one these roles and more on our podcast!