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Twelfth Night (Manhattan Shakespeare Project)

nytheatre.com q&a preview by Sarah Eismann
June 3, 2013

What is your job on this show?
Founding Artistic Director / Actor.

What is your show about?
Viola, shipwrecked, dresses up as boy, falls in love with Orsino, who loves Olivia, who is falling for Viola (as a guy), all of which creates madcap mistaken identity mayhem!

When did you know you wanted to work in the theater, and why?
Apparently I knew when I was three years old. My mom (and of course the rest of the world) kept asking me what I wanted to be when I grew up. Without hesitating I said "I'm gonna be a star." And I haven't changed my mind since.

Why do you do theater (as opposed to film, or TV, or something not in the entertainment field)?
I believe at the very core of my being that live theatre, and specifically Shakespeare, has the capability to change the world and make it a better place. Manhattan Shakespeare Project has developed an International Outreach Program (we're going to Palestine in October) where we explore how Shakespeare transcends language, culture, gender, and generations, and can bridge the gap between culturally diverse communities. Our goal: in five years get the communities of the world talking to each other through Shakespeare (you know, world peace, small stuff like that).

Is there a particular moment in this show that you really love or look forward to? Without giving away surprises, what happens in that moment and why does it jazz you?
It's a water show, people! Bring your slickers :) (that moment gets me every time, I nearly fall off my stool laughing!!)

Groucho, Chico, Harpo, or Zeppo?
Harpo. His physical comedy skills are incredible. He can tell a story without words like nobody's business. If I could be a quarter the physical actor that he brought to a role I would count myself extremely lucky.

How important is diversity to you in the theater you see/make?
I believe diversity is very important. Whether it is conscious or unconscious we as individuals and as a society grow and prosper when we can see ourselves in the people who lead us. Which is why creating an all-female company was so important to me. Young girls need to see strong female leaders and experience the power of the female psyche in their everyday exploration of the world to understand what is possible for themselves and give them the permission to explore beyond the boundaries of their imagination. And creating a diverse company of women where multiple cultures, world views and walks of life were represented was key to this.