Rising Tides: Zac Delventhal

You might recognize Zac Delventhal’s name from Parhelion; he was the genius who choreographed our stage fights. Genius is not used lightly – he managed to have a bench thrown safely in a very small space.  You might recognize his face; he’s been on stages all over the Twin Cities from Six Elements to the Flower Shop Project.   He’s a regular renaissance man: writer, actor, fight choreographer, lobbyist.  He’s teamed up with his wife, Laura (who has directed at TEASE since 2012) to create a new youtube channel, Cinescrubs.
Zac and laura

Zac and Laura, creators of CineScrubs

These two are wonderful supporters of new work all over town and lend their time and talent to the stage. Now, they’ve turned their gaze toward film in an effort to help promote diversity.  Youtube is more than a place for cat videos – it is a wonderful platform to for important dialogue like those the Delventhals are starting with Cinescrubs.
Can you give the Cinescrubs elevator speech for us? 
CineScrubs is a data-driven time machine examining the history of cinema and comparing it to today. Both Laura and I have noticed how almost every story in every medium stars a white guy, with white guy supporting roles, and white guy villains. Women and people of color are typically marginalized as token characters with little control over their own destiny: the princess to be rescued, the encouraging mother, the tragic victim who motivates the (white male) hero to do great things. There are exceptions of course, but they are vanishingly rare.
We started to wonder, has it always been like this? Have stories always been so homogenous? The common refrain from Hollywood is that only movies about white guys make money, but thinking back to classic films like the Wizard of Oz, there were a ton of female characters that drove the plot forward and it was a huge success. So was there a time when things were less refined, when a movie about women, or people of color, could get made without fear of losing profits? This is a question we are very interested in answering, but I quickly discovered there is no data on the subject. Studies about diversity in film don’t go further back than the last decade or so. So CineScrubs tries to find that data, and in doing so maybe answer some questions about how we tell stories in general.
You and Laura addressed that you noticed the “samey white dudes” syndrome over time – was there a specific incident/moment that made you think “we should study this?”

Well, it’s something that’s pretty obvious just looking at what’s playing at the box office, but the big realization came after watching Oz The Great and Powerful. We talk about this in the first episode of CineScrubs a bit, but that movie just floored me. It’s the prequel to a film full of powerful women, but the plot centers around how these three witches are completely helpless since their dad died and need a man to come and set things right. Not only that, Oz is a promiscuous cad who sleeps with everyone, something represented as endearing, but the women who sleep with him are shown as dirty, undesirable, tainted, and idiots for believing his lies. The Witch of the West is literally turned permanently evil and ugly because she was a slut. I walked away of that movie amazed and disgusted. Not only did they go with yet another white male hero, they built their entire plot around some of the worst sexist elements of our culture. Laura and I talked a lot about that movie, and it was during those conversations that we started asking, “Was it always this bad?”
What do you hope watchers of Cinescrubs will walk away with?  What kind of conversations do you think are going to happen going forward? 
Well first, I hope viewers are entertained, we are trying to create a show here. But after that, what I really want folks to walk away with is good data. I find it very hard to talk about issues without having the numbers, so hopefully I can provide that for other people’s discussions. Obviously I have a bit of a pro-diversity axe to grind myself, and I’m not trying to hide that, but as much as possible I want to step back and let people draw their own conclusions.
How do you envision the google doc being used?
Well, there are a few layers to it. I imagine most people will just take a peek at the breakdown, look at some graphs, and get a gist of where the data is falling. We’ll cover a lot of that information in the episodes as well, so if that’s as far as most viewers go, that’s great. It’s really important to us to make the raw data available too though. We want to compile something robust and complete enough that folks smarter than us can use it to draw interesting conclusions we would never have thought of.
Is there a movie/decade you’re looking forward to reviewing and why?
I’m not going to lie, a big part of this is just having an excuse to watch a lot of old movies. So far I’ve already seen most of the films we’ve watched, but I’m looking forward to getting back to the “Golden Age” of Hollywood, which is a period I basically know nothing about. I’m very curious to find out what it’s like.
Since you both come from a theatre background why did you choose movies versus plays/stage work?
Ultimately we hope to reveal something about how we tell stories and our culture in general. Since I’m not sure on a good way to systematically look at all stories, Hollywood seemed like a decent canary in the coal mine. It’s been the most popular form of storytelling for almost a century, so I think it can reveal a lot about our tastes in general. Plus it’s something most people can readily identify with, unlike theatre which has become pretty esoteric for the population at large.
Who would you say does a great job at integrating diversity in casting/storytelling around town? (local filmmakers, theatres, arts organization, etc)
Well, I definitely want to shout out groups like Theatre Unbound, Mixed Blood, Penumbra, Mu. Not only is diversity a part of their mission statement, but they are out there doing good work, proving you don’t need a white guy in the lead to be successful. In a way though, these groups really illustrate the larger problem too. You shouldn’t need to have a specific focus on diversity to have a non-white non-male show every so often. I’m not saying every show or anything, I still want to get cast sometimes, but you look around at most theatre in the Twin Cities (and elsewhere) and as much as they’ll pay lip service to diversity, time and time again casts get filled with white men.
What is your favorite movie?  Is it on your list of movies to include?
Such a tough question. I love movies, and it is very hard to pick favorites. American Beauty and Big Fish are both films that I love which have had a huge impact on me artistically. Pacific Rim had me on the edge of my seat the whole time, an absolutely spectacular action flick. Gone Girl floored me and may be the best film I’ve seen in years. I don’t think any of those were top grossing films, so we won’t be analyzing them anytime soon, but it’s possible we’ll look at Best Picture winners later, so that would put American Beauty in there. So far though we’ve gotten to watch Toy Story, Back to the Future and Jaws, which are all pretty great, so our initial sample is not without gems.
What have you seen in the past year that’s inspired you?  (seen on stage, screen, read etc)
Gone Girl, which I mentioned, was just fantastically written, directed, and acted, top to bottom. Some of the twists it took . . . like I said, I was floored. Similarly, I absolutely love the dialogue from the TV show The Blacklist. I’ve been working on my own writing a lot lately, and both have really inspired me to do better. I still write very on-the-nose, without a lot of subtext, but characters in The Blacklist can have an entire conversations where both of them are lying to each other, and they both know it, but they both have to keep up the charade anyway . . . I love it every time.
What is the question I didn’t ask you but should have? 
I guess you could have asked why diversity in storytelling is important to me.
What is the answer to that question?
Well, since you asked, I obviously have an interest in basic fairness, like most people, but I think in the end it comes down to entirely selfish reasons. I want better, less paint-by-numbers films and I also want to be able to share the stories I love with my wife and with the daughters I may have someday. There are some video games, for example, that have had a huge influence on me and I can’t wait to share them with my children, but what if I have a daughter and she can’t get into them because there is no characters she can identify with? Maybe that is a little forward thinking, but it’s honestly something I worry about.
If you were stuck in a lifeboat, what would you need to have with you? (you’ve got food and water)
A pad and pen. I’m very easily distracted, but I’m always trying to get more ideas on the page. Being stranded in a lifeboat might be a great opportunity to get some work done.
You can follow the Cinescrubs channel on YouTube to hear more from Zac and Laura.

Rising Tides: Matt Wall

We knew pretty quickly when Matt Wall walked into our lives that he was a keeper.  Matt is a kind and gentle man but he scared quite a few audience members with his honest and violent performance in Parhelion. We’ve found him to be a great voice to have in the rehearsal room and a wonderful supporter of local theatre.  We will happily cross the river to St. Paul to see him in God Girl at the History Theatre.
Hall-310 CeN
What drew you to the theatre? (origin story)
It all began in Kindergarten, when I was cast as Head of Lettuce in my elementary school’s production of “Peter Rabbit.” I remember silently lip-singing the songs and thinking, “This kid playing Peter Rabbit is a hack. I wanna be a STAR!” Then, when I was 7, my mother made me choose between taking violin lessons or piano lessons. I grew up 10 minutes from the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, but I couldn’t ice skate if I were being chased by a bear. Shooting anything with a heartbeat was another pastime of many of my fellow Iron Range youngsters, but my mom banned guns from our house. Even those toy guns that have the flag that pops out with the word BANG! on it were forbidden. Those two limitations in extra-curricular activities were going to leave me with too much time on my hands, so my mom made me do something. I picked violin lessons. That led to participation in children’s theater programs. And my life in the performing arts was born.
Without spoiling any plot twists – can you tell us what character you’re playing in God Girl?
I play Rocky Calhoun in God Girl. I tend to think of Rocky as a bit of a lovable lug-head. He really, truly cannot comprehend that most of the opportunities he’s had in his life can be credited to the simple fact that he’s a man. Ability and hard work have precious little to do with his success. An entire gender of people were prohibited from challenging young men like him for opportunities and places at the proverbial table, and men like Rocky don’t equate that with a word like “sexism.” I imagine many of us have had an experience in life where it’s been brought to our attention that our behavior, in some way, has been offensive, hurtful, or even damaging to someone else. In many ways, Rocky epitomizes how many of us react when faced with that idea. Which is to say, we don’t react particularly admirably.
Kristine Holmgren is the author of God Girl. The play has had a handful of workshops over the past few years, and she’s been a huge part of those from what I understand. I came on board for this production at the History Theater. She was at a couple of our early rehearsals, and she was very open about her experiences and answering questions about life in Seminary in the 70s. Most notably, her vast experience as a journalist has made her into a ruthless playwright unafraid of editing. It makes me think playwrights should be required to take journalism classes.
God Girl is about breaking glass ceilings. Has it opened your eyes up to problems or reinforced ideas you already had?
There are inequities in every aspect of our lives. Work, entertainment, religion, you name it. There’s not a single activity or situation where, somewhere along the line, some person or group of people is limited from full and equal participation. So, while this is not necessarily a “new” concept to which I am just now awakening, it’s always a sobering reminder of just how profoundly easy it is in this world to be a (relatively) young, white, straight male living above the poverty line. I have so little to complain about, it’s amazing. Working on this play has been a great reminder of that. Also, language matters. The words I choose to use say so much about who I am as a person. One of the great benefits of this being a play is that it shines extra light on the role of language in the oppression of people.
How are you approaching “Rocky” for this show? 
My approach to Rocky has been to focus on the sincerity of his cluelessness. He really doesn’t grasp that he’s part of the problem. So, with guidance and reminders from director Ron Peluso, I’ve tried not to allow any of the “ridiculousness” that contemporary audiences might assign to Rocky to inform my acting of the part. Rocky’s life has been relatively easy, and his theology is immovable. So, when a group of women comes along and shatters all of the ideas Rocky bases his entire existence on, it’s fairly easy to imagine some guys might be reluctant to that kind of change. This is playwright Kristine Holmgren’s story. These things happened. They’re happening right now. Nothing anyone does in the play is hyperbole. And so none of the characters are a stereotype of anything. Our contemporary inclinations can be to write off male characters in a play about sexism. But I can’t act Rocky that way.
What have you seen/read in the past year that’s inspired you artistically?
In all honesty, I get most of my artistic inspiration from being aware of/working with so many theater artists in the Cities who do everything they do for free. You know, they lose money by being in a show. Parking, gas, meals, childcare, buying their own props and costumes. To me, that’s the great equalizer. It raises the bar. I want to be off-book for the first rehearsal, be on-time, every time, and act the shit out of my scenes. Because no one is in it for the money. It makes we want to be better, because I have no idea what you’ve had to sacrifice to do this play, at your own expense. If you tell me you’re working on a play, I love you. Because I know you’re probably gonna be a couple hundred bucks in the hole when it’s all over.
What draws you to audition for certain projects?
I’m most likely to audition for something if: it’s a play I love by a playwright I respect in a part that would be in some way challenging produced by a company that would seem to have a likelihood of drawing an audience (and press). And, if we’re being honest here, I’d love to be paid more than a “stipend” and if I could get weeks toward my Equity card, that’d be great. Seriously, though, I go with my gut most of the time. We’re all going to sacrifice something to work on this thing for several weeks, and so it should be something that, on an instinctual level, cries out for me to try and be a part of. Play, playwright, part, company, pay, Equity. These are on my mental checklist, and not necessarily in that order.
What have you spent too much money on over the years but don’t regret? (ex. I buy lots of books but I don’t feel like it was a waste of my money, I still value those purchases)
I have a 4 1/2 year old daughter. I’ve spent a bit on her over the past few years. And I don’t regret a penny. Because the more I spend, the more I love. Right? That’s right, isn’t it?
What surprises you most about the twin cities theatre community?
A couple of things consistently surprise me about the Twin Cities theater scene. First off, I think the wide variety of theater styles that achieve consistent success in this community is remarkable. From straight plays with 2 characters to musicals offering garish spectacle to plays featuring puppets making love in a pool of actual chicken blood (I’m not certain about that last one, but I’m willing to bet it’s opening somewhere in Fridley in the next 12 months) there is an impressive depth of styles that theater audiences in the Cities have to choose from – and choose to go and see – from week to week. The second thing is a bit of a criticism. (Pun intended.) I don’t entirely understand why artists, audiences, and critics categorize certain things as “community theater” and other things “professional.” Community theater is almost always a derogatory term, and it usually suggests that it’ll be bad (re. corny, cheesy, melodramatic, poorly acted) and that no one is getting paid. It should be noted that many Community theaters in the Cities pay their actors more than theaters that have had significant success over a period of years and are probably just assumed to be Professional. It also seems to me that critics assign that term to any theater being produced in certain directions relative to the Mississippi River. Some of the best theater in the Twin Cities seems to be branded Community theater because of this mind-boggling and clannish mentality many people seem to have about zip codes and good theater.  And it won’t get the attention and accolades it deserves until critics, specifically, start to accept the fact that most of the work they give attention to isn’t Professional by many industry standards, and that a production doesn’t magically become super awesome if you move it northwest of the Mississippi.
What do you hate most about the acting process?
What do you love the most about the acting process?
I thought about this next one. A lot. And it might sound Pollyanna-ish, but I really just love acting. Everything about the process is invigorating, and every specific role and production has its own particular challenges and rewards that result in acting being the only thing I’ve ever wanted to try and be better at. The parts I hate have to do with things that are often called Rehearsal, but would be better termed Pub Talk. For instance, spending valuable rehearsal time talking about things that won’t actually help me act my part. That’s obnoxious. And it’s usually called Table Work. I also hate it when technical aspirations (sets, props, costumes, laser shows . . .) get more rehearsal time than the acting part. That’s something that happens, and it bums me out. Because I love that moment (and it’s occurred in every play I’ve ever been in) where each actor looks at the other and you see this thought in their eyes: “None of that other nonsense matters. All I have are my lines, my blocking, and these other human beings onstage. We should have spent more time rehearsing with that knowledge.” I love acting, and I love actors. We all are striving to recreate some basic human truths onstage, ultimately trying to show that we’re all in this together.
If you were stuck in a lifeboat – what do you need to have with you?  (you’ve got water and food)
I’m always moved by stories of people who make one last phone call to a loved one before some horrible tragedy takes their life. So, if I were in a lifeboat, I’d love to tell somebody I love them. I’d also hope to have a picture of those people. I wouldn’t want to just go out with my memories. I’m answering this question during tech, however, so being alone in a lifeboat with nothing extraneous seems pretty attractive right about now.
God Girl, playing  through March 1st at the History Theatre in St Paul. Ticket information can be found at historytheatre.com.

Rising Tides: Elohim Peña

We first met Elohim when he signed up to participate in TEASE 2014.  In less than a year, we’ve seen him on stages all over the Twin Cities –  from Freshwater Theatre and Candid to Coup D’Etat and Forgotten Goddess. We’re pretty sure with his talent and captivating personality, it will only be a matter of time before you can’t swing a stick in this town without hitting Elohim.  This time he’s working with Frank Theatre on Love and Information.  You can catch his performance at the Ritz Theatre in Northeast Minneapolis now through February 22nd.

Elohim Peña


What drew you to theatre? 
I auditioned for one acts on a whim my senior year of high school, I had a great time, then did the spring play that same year. Then I drifted for a bit through my first couple of years until I took an elective acting class with Kurt Schweickhardt and I fell in love with acting. I started looking for schools and ended training at The William Esper Studio in New York. That was the first time in my life I felt like I was where I was supposed to be.
Love and Information has a really interesting structure from a script stand point – there are no delineated characters etc.  How was the process to create a story (or not create a story) from the text been?
Working on Love and Information has been an interesting project to say the least. At the audition – which I got thanks Joy Dolo – I was asked to do scenes with really funky, fun, and crazy direction. I was asked to do some scenes as a preacher, or a cheerleader, I walked out of the room feeling like I made a total fool of myself, which is always a good thing. Then when we started the rehearsal process we basically spent the first week at the table essentially re-auditioning. We read through it many times playing different scenes, or reversing scene rolls, then Wendy Knox our slick director began to incorporate circumstances and relationships and then we played around with those until we hit something that felt right for each scene.
Were there common themes the cast kept coming back to? 
We talked a BUNCH about the play trying to figure out if there were threads within each section, eventually we ended up deciding as a group what each sections theme was.
What has been the biggest challenge of Love and Information?
The technical part of this show has been the biggest challenge; because of costume changes, scene changes, and the brevity of the scenes we as actors have to be ready to go at the top of the scene. It’s also challenging to have to prepare for your “moment before” when you have seconds between changing costume and getting back out on stage.

Elohim flashing a smile at the initial read through. Photo courtesy of Frank Theatre.

What have you found inspiring lately?  What have you seen/heard/read that made you want to go out and create art?
I saw Rehearsing Failure at the Southern Theatre and I was taken aback at how amazing non-traditional theatre can be. The cast was incredibly talented, mixing, live music, performance art, with theatre. That performance really made me want to go out and make something.

What prompts you to audition for someone/something?
To be honest just auditioning to audition is something I find really important. The truth about being an actor is that auditioning is the job. I mean I still look for projects that I feel would have a part for me, but as an actor you have so little control over what you’re cast in that you have to put yourself out there constantly. Look at Chris Hemsworth; this guy is Thor, but he had to go out and actively seek Ron Howard to audition for Rush. There are very few actors that have the luxury of waiting for the work to come them.  For this project I was lucky enough that Joy reached out to me and through her I reached out to Wendy to audition for this play. I was just happy that someone thought I could be part of this.
What do you hate most about the (audition, rehearsal) process?
What do you like the most about (audition, rehearsal) process?
Where do you want to be a fly on the wall? 
At the pentagon or in the oval office, I want to know all of America’s dirty laundry.

If you were stuck in a Lifeboat what would you need to have with you? 
Someone to spend the time with, preferably someone I can discuss time travel paradoxes with.
Performances of Love and Information are January 30 – February 22, Thurs-Sat at 8:00 PM and Sundays at 2:00 PM. There is one matinee on Wednesday, Feb 11 at noon. Tickets are $22-25 and can be purchased now at www.franktheatre.org or (612) 724 3760.

Rising Tides: Suzanne Victoria Cross

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Suzanne Victoria Cross Photo Credit: Sarah Morriem

Last fall, Suzanne Victoria Cross was treading our boards and now she’s back on stage with Walking Shadow in their production of The Coward running through the 28th.  Suzanne has a lot of energy: she managed to finish planning her wedding which happened just two weeks after we closed Raise Your Voice(Suzanne Cross): That F—king Harriet Tubman Play.  

Walking Shadow is well known for their fine production of period pieces. This time, they’ve chosen to do a gender swap the cast, enabling them to take advantage of some serious female talent here in the Twin Cities.  Ladies can duel with the best of them; we’re looking forward to see what other fresh perspectives this choice lends to the text. Their first weekend of shows sold out, so buy your tickets early!

What drew you to theatre, acting specifically?

AHH! Well, my mom started to bring me to shows since I was able to sit still for an hour at a time. I just loved it. Wanted to be a part of it. I just always knew I wanted to be an actor. I knew that was the service I wanted to provide. Over the last 5 years, I have also had a calling for theatre for social change and theatre as a form of therapy and healing. I have worked with many organizations helping individuals explore their lives and issues in their community and country through theatrical exercises and expressions.

Why do certain projects jump out as something you want to say yes to?  What prompts you to audition for someone/something?

I would be lying if I didn’t say the first thing I actually look for is “Black female needed.” When you can work in this field, it’s a good day. Your eye has to be on booking the next job. In the beginning, focusing on quantity versus your own idea of quality can be necessary for survival as an actor. The goal and magic of this field comes when you book a job so you can eat and that job aligns with your skills, desires and passion as an actor. Then that’s a great day. I love roles that are thought-provoking and challenge the audience and myself to look at the world in a new way.

The Coward is a period piece that features an almost all male cast, but Walking Shadow has chosen to do a gender flip, how has it been rehearsing with a cast of almost exclusively women ?

Sorry to report no catfights in this cast. I get the pleasure of working with talented individuals who are taking names and risks left and right. This show has allowed me to become a sponge soaking up talent wherever I can. I am very lucky to be working with such a talented group of people. I also know this is said often when actors talk about cast members. In this case, Amy has done such a great job of casting. We all get to work and expand our wheelhouse, each character is evolving into (in my opinion) exactly who they are supposed to be. These actors, who happen to be women, have been great teachers.

Suzanne at rehearsal. Photo courtesy of Walking Shadow

Suzanne at rehearsal. Photo courtesy of Walking Shadow

Without spoilers, What character are you playing? What are the challenges of the role?

No spoilers? Ummmmmshoot. Ok. I am playing Egbert the Bartender and Sir Derek Lanley. My biggest challenge has been the accent. As my ex cast members from “Raise Your Voice” know, being British ain’t my thing.  Until now! Ha! We have a fantastic dialect coach Keely Wolter, who is so much fun to work with. I have spent many nights falling asleep listening to her voice on my iPod.

Is there sword fighting? Please say there is. Does stage combat get you excited or nervous?

I can’t give any spoilers! But i can say we do have a great choreographer, the lovely Meredith Larson. This play is a beautiful balance of honor, nobility and grace juxtaposed with bloody, bloody violence. I do love doing fight scenes! But unfortunately, I will not be participating in any of them for this show.

Anything coming up after The Coward? Future projects?

I am currently the Operations Manager of Teatro del Pueblo, a non-profit Latino theatre located in St. Paul.  I will be joining Penumbra’s Education & Outreach team as a Teaching Artist this spring.

You’re fairly new to the Twin Cities theatre community- what has surprised you about it?

I was born and raised in North Minneapolis and have been seeing theatre in this city since I was little. I love the wide range of theatre in this town. The most surprising thing to me is those wonderful fellowships that can take place between actors, if you’re open to it. The fellowship in the waiting room going into an audition, in the waiting room going into callbacks, coffee dates when you’re not cast and drinks at the bar when you are (sometimes that’s reversed) We all want the part! But when you find a great support group of actors, like I have found, we also all want each other to succeed. Both of these facts can exist in the same space. I love the friends I have made in the Twin Cities theatre community and the support they keep giving me.

If you could go back and give your younger self or someone else just starting out in theatre (specifically acting) some advice what would you tell them/yourself?

Do, see, read and breathe! Do! take any training, classes and workshops you can afford. use opportunities to work on your craft, even if it’s working on monologues in your living room in front of fellow performers. You’ll never be done learning and growing. This field isn’t finite.  It’s constantly changing, and so should you. See! Support the theatre scene you love and want to be a part of so badly. Don’t just audition for a part and then never see a show from that theatre company if you did not get cast. You auditioned for a reason. Support them.  Read! Keep expanding your knowledge of this art form and that includes new commentary, plays, poetry, novels, history, different genres of performance and films. Be a sponge!   Breathe! if you’re not cast, it’s not personal! Walk into that audition room take a deep breath and know after you leave it’s not in your hands. They choose. If they didn’t choose you, someone will. It’s about who was best for that show determined by that director. Theatre is subjective…Also clean your room, it’s gross.

If you were stuck in a lifeboat what would you need to have with you? (you’ve got food and water)

AHHHH! Ummm my husband Zach, plays (Stoppard, Ionesco, Wilson, Ruhl) all of the Frasier episode scripts, ice cream (you said food but I was worried ice cream wouldn’t count), flare gun, Radio/Cd player with lots of batteries. NOW 90s Dance CD!



Performances at the Red Eye Theatre (15 West 14th Street, Minneapolis MN 55403)  Febraury 6th- Febraury 28.  Evening performances at 7:30pm and Sunday matinees at 3:00pm.  For more ticket information visit http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/835993

Rising Tides: Erin Denman


Erin Denman Photo Credit: Dani Werner

We’re delighted to highlight Erin Denman.  Not only has she been a driving force behind many of our artistic endeavors, but she’s currently  working on a show with nimbus theatre. While rehearsing for several weeks with nimbus, she has also done so many Lifeboat activities – reading new scripts, baking delicious cannoli cupcakes and building a website to name a few.  We seriously wonder when she has time to do all of these things.

This isn’t Erin’s first time with nimbus; she has previously worked with them on Emerald and the Love Song of the Dead Fisherman, The Balcony and The Golden Ass.  The Balcony  was the first show nimbus had in their space on Central Ave, which has since become a staple in the theatre community. Over the years, nimbus has tackled story telling from many different perspectives; company created devised pieces, published scripts, new translations of classics, and new works.  We’re excited to see them tackle the intersection of art, expression, pre-history and storytelling in the devised work In the Age of Paint and Bone.

What drew you to acting (What’s your origin story)?

When I was in high school, I’d been doing tech for shows and I got recruited for the speech team by a teacher. Suddenly, I found myself onstage. I got to run off crying as the kid who doesn’t get into Fame in one show (FAME, obviously) and play a magical rhyming pirate in another. One of my first shows, Susan Lori-Parks’ Venus, exposed me to what theatre could do for me and how I could change an audience. I’ve never stopped seeking that feeling. Fun fact: Tim Daly, a fellow actor in In the Age of Paint and Bone, was also in FAME and Venus with me at DeLaSalle. Go Islanders?

This is the second devised piece you’ve worked on with nimbus and Liz Neerland.  How has the process changed from the first one to the second piece?

This show involves a focus on movement that is entirely different from what we did for The Golden Ass. That show was riffing on tales similar to Aesop’s fables that form  the basis of fairy tales we all know. In the Age of Paint and Bone features historical moments as well as speculation about why prehistoric people created art- the basis for the wordless movement pieces. It’s been a very different but rewarding process. The tech is going to be incredible. Brian Hesser deserves a lot of props for creating such integral character in the cave itself.

What gets you excited about creating devised work?


Photo Credit Mathieu Lindquist

I love playing with other actors and discovering a story rather than being handed the story. There is a sense of comfort and danger about it: you take risks knowing that you’ve built a support structure with the artists you’re working with. You really get the chance to explore what interests the group before settling on a finished product.

What have you seen/read in the past year (or so) that’s inspired you?

I’ve been particularly artistically inspired by not theatrey things this year. Books, mostly.  I’ve been reading a lot of feminist memoirs. Caitlin Moran inspires me quite a bit. Aimee Bender’s short stories. A book called Ask Me Why I Hurt about providing medical care to homeless youth. Julianne Moore in Still Alice and the National Theatre Live’s broadcast of Coriolanus both shook me. The Dick Van Dyke Show. Seriously. It’s on Netflix, watch it. The actors are so committed to the absurd happenings that it is all entirely grounded. It’s sort of a joy to watch.

After In the Age of Paint and Bone, is there anything you’ve got lined up?

Little Lifeboats business. TEASE takes up a good chunk of my spring. I’m excited to really get to work. This is the time of year I get ideas, so watch out Lifeboats! I may have some tricks up my sleeve yet!

What role have you been particularly proud of over the years?  

That’s a difficult question. Each show/role teaches you so much about yourself and your art. There are a couple more I’d like another crack at though. I’d like to play Evelyn in The Shape of Things by Neil LaBute again. I was proud of what I did there, but I think I was too young to really do it justice. I’d love to play Titania and Emelia again. I’m pretty happy any time I get to do new work.  How’s that for a non-answer?

Not a role, but I’m very proud of TEASE. I’m happy that a little idea became something people enjoy doing and that helps artists connect.

What question should I have asked you but didn’t?

Ahhh…. I don’t know. My favorite beverage is unsweetened ice tea. But not iced green tea. Because that’s super gross.

If you were stuck in a Lifeboat what do you need to have?  (you’ve got water and food)

My kindle loaded with books (new overly complicated fiction to take up a lot of time, poetry, autobiographies of comedians, and dumb fantasy novels) and a solar powered charger. And an unlimited supply of sunscreen.


Performances of In the Age of Paint and Bone will be at the nimbus space (1517 Central Ave) February 7th, 2015- March 1 2015. Matinees at 3pm, Weekend evening at 8pm weeknight evening at 7:30pm.  tickets and more information at www.nimbustheatre.com