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?
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