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.
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