nytheatre.com q&a preview by Victoria Rae Sook
June 19, 2013
What is your job on this show?
director, artistic director, co-producer, actor.
What is your show about?
ENVOY follows a group of college students as they volunteer over seas and then are captured and held hostage by local natives; they face questions about how they've lived their own lives and fight to keep hope alive in each other moments from death.
When did you know you wanted to work in the theater, and why?
I had been a dancer my whole life and absolutely loved performing. Throughout middle school and high school I did plays and kept a strict dance company schedule. Then, when I was a Sophomore in High School I was in a production of A Cry of Players. Playing the wife of William Shakespeare made me realize that while I love movement, I am obsessed with text. I knew then that there was nothing else in the entire world for me.
What are some of your previous theater credits? (Be specific! Name shows, etc.)
I have played Elle Woods in Legally Blonde at OhLook Center for the Performing Arts, April in Small Town Scandal in the Big City (an original play by Bobby Holder that premiered at MITF years ago), Lady Capulet in Romeo and Juliet with Art noWhere Productions, Emilia in The Othello Project with The Frantic Assembly company from London, and was in Dark Hollow: An Appalachian Woyzeck as part of the Fringe Festival last summer. I have written for and directed the students of Interlochen Arts Academy as well as written plays and short subjects for The Reasonable Facsimile Theatre Company.
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?
The last moment of the show is different every night. There are 132 possible endings and each one is beautiful. Each possibility brings hope to my character as the lights dim. Even in rehearsals I find myself getting anxious to see what is going to happen and what the actors will do with the scenario that is presented to them. I love the spontaneity of the ending because I think life is spontaneous and when art can truly emulate life that something really special happens. I also love it because it is the play’s way of saying that we are all one. By Belinda not presetting an ending it is understood that no one is better than anyone else and we all just do what we need to do to survive. No one deserves a happy ending, so we all just get a hopeful one- together. I wish I could explain more, but it would ruin the show if you came to see it. Just know, it is literally awesome.
Which famous person would you most like to get a fan letter from: Denzel Washington, Maggie Smith, Ang Lee, Audra McDonald?
Audra McDonald. First off, she is my hero. I want to be her when I gown up. I think she is class and grace personified and so talented that her baby finger shines onstage. I saw her in Porgy and Bess in early February and she complimented my coat at the stage door. Within seconds it was off and I was giving it to her. It wasn’t until she reminded me that it was 6 degrees out and then refused to take away my coat because it it that I even felt a chill... Yeah, I just love her. Also, this play stands for unity among races, religions, socioeconomic backgrounds, and sexualities: the universal language of friendship can make us all one. It would mean so much to me if an African American female, especially one I admire so highly, thought that I did it right.
Can theater bring about societal change? Why or why not?
Theatre has the ability to change the world. If I didn’t believe that I wouldn’t be an actress. Envoy in particular is going to get people talking. If our audiences talk to other people and then they talk to other people, etc, together we can change the world. Theatre is not only an art form, but a form of interpersonal communication. Each show’s message hits the audience members in a personal and unique way.