I am SO excited to be back at Vermont Stage! As soon as we closed The Clean House two seasons ago, I was already hoping for a return invitation because I had such a wonderful experience. When I got the call about VENUS I literally squealed! Not only is this a dream role for any young-ish actress, but to be back in Burlington on stage at FlynnSpace and under the direction of Cristina, is such a treat. This has been a highlight of my year already and one that I have been counting down and looking forward to since I got the offer!
How's this process been different then THE CLEAN HOUSE?
The process is a bit different because of the size of our cast. We staged the entire play (VENUS) in less than a week and started detailing on our final day of week 1. It's pretty outstanding and because this is a two person play, the focus in rehearsal is on the two of us the entire time. This allows us, the actors and Cristina to cover so much more because the focus is so concentrated. This also makes for a very intense rehearsal- physically and mentally, but the two-on-one time we have with each other is priceless and unique to a two person play.
How's this role different?
Vanda and Matilde are quite different women and I am very fond of them both - for different reasons. I love Matilde's incredibly dry sense of humor but the beautiful way she sees the world. Vanda is a force. She is wild. She is intelligent. She has no limits and pushes others to their limits.
My preparation for both roles has been pretty different as well. With Matilde my main focus before our first read was nailing the Portuguese accent as well as the dialogue spoken in actual Portuguese. I wanted her voice and speech to be as authentic as possible. With Vanda definitely some of my prep work included working on the German accent but there was much more research to do on the origin and history of this story, and figuring out the parallels in this play within a play. Both roles have proved to be very challenging and have pushed me. I love that!
Speaking of, how have you been preparing to take on playing Vanda?
This is the type of role that takes preparation in multiple areas. Besides reading the play almost every night for the past month and a half, my early preparation started with learning a German dialect for the role of Vanda von Dunayev/Venus as well as reading the actual book of inspiration, "Venus in Furs". Also elements of research in the world of BDSM - present day and past, finding out who this man Sacher-Masoch was, since he is such a strong presence in this play, and of course the goddess of love herself, Venus (Aphrodite). I've also never been so dedicated to my nutrition and exercise...I had to do justice to the vision of our director, Cristina Alicea and the beautiful work of our costume designer, Catherine Vigne!
Is there anything you find scary about playing her? Anything exciting?
Can I just say EVERYTHING, to both, and leave it at that? I saw this play on Broadway two years ago and I was completely taken by the performances. I was discussing it with a dear friend afterwards and he asked, "Couldn't you see yourself playing that role? Don't you want to play that role one day?" to which I replied, "That role terrifies me!" And here I am...
What kinds of conversations do you think people will have about the play as they walk out of the theatre?
I hope the audience has as much fun with us as we will have performing for them. This will truly be an evening of pure risqué, sexy, intellectual, entertainment all rolled into 1 act! We are only a week into rehearsals and every night we've met has been so much fun! It's hard work, the material is challenging, this show is a beast (as I've been describing it to friends and family far away) but it is a thrill to work on. There are so many layers to these characters, to who these people really are and what they long for. What is this relationship? What is reality? What is fantasy? Who is in control? Who has the power? Who had the power all along? Who is Thomas? Who is Vanda... really? I think it's safe to say this show itself, is a conversation starter.
What's your favorite line in the play?
"Don't f*** with a goddess is what it's about."