Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike- meet cast member Marilyn Pifer





What do I find appealing about Cassandra and the show?
Playing Cassandra lets me be dramatically wacky, and that’s always great fun.  Moreover, the characters I’ve played in my last three shows have been either somewhat or completely evil.  Cassandra is good-hearted (if a bit of a nut), and that’s a very nice change. 

What have I learned about myself playing Cassandra?
With this role, I had to stretch farther than usual to develop my character and her backstory. I’ve never known anyone quite like Cassandra!  Fortunately, the playwright gave me a lot to work with.  I also needed help on her gentle Pennsylvania Dutch accent, which Howard, our director, was happy to give. 

What do I want the audience to experience/take away from the show?
I hope that every audience member finds a situation or character in the show that s/he relates to.  This very funny show has many tender moments and serious themes.  If we as a cast treat those moments with both humor and respect, we’ll connect with our audiences and make them all feel happy they spent a couple of hours with us.  And of course I hope they all laugh until their sides hurt!

How does this show differ from other shows I've worked on?
I love playing with such a tight ensemble.  More than many other plays with a similar cast size, Vanya/Sonia involves complex relationships between every character and each of the others.  That sociologic web is something that Howard emphasized right from the beginning, and it’s helped us work very well as a coherent team.  

How long have I been acting and what made me get involved in theater?  How did I get involved with LTA?
I acted in as many shows as possible in high school and college.  Then due to job, family, and life events, I had a few rather long stretches away from the stage.  It was only in early 2016 that I started acting in this region.  Since then I’ve joined the board of the Vienna Theatre Company and have auditioned regularly with several different groups.  This is my fourth show in the DC area, and my first at LTA. 

What advice would you give others who are interested in working in theater?
See shows at several community theatres in the area, and if you like what you see, sign up for the theatres’ mailing lists. Watch your inbox and their websites for upcoming productions and calls for auditions and volunteers. Then go for it!  Try out and/or offer your talent on the production side.  Every show needs many volunteers.  You might also take acting or technical production classes offered by LTA and other community and professional theatres.  If you don’t get cast right away, keep trying.  There are so many theatre groups in this area, you’ll have lots of possibilities. 






Friday, October 13, 2017

Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike- meet cast member Mario Font





What do I find appealing about Vanya and the show?
There are quite a few similarities between myself and Vanya. We are in different life situations, but despite that, he and I are both looking at the 'modern' world and shaking our heads at where we are. I have kids who are Spike's age, so I can relate to Vanya's bewilderment at how Spike can seemingly multitask. Vanya looks back longingly at the 50s, I look back longingly at the late 60s and early 70s with the same nostalgia.
As far as the show goes, I absolutely love how Durang weaves the heartfelt emotions and comedy amongst siblings over the course of a weekend. I'm an only child, but have seen enough family dynamics of friends and neighbors to know this type of situation happens, and happens frequently.
What have I learned about myself playing Vanya?
Let's get the main "thing" out of the way:  Holy cow, I CAN memorize a 4 page monologue and a 66 page script!  Yay me...   From an actor perspective, despite seeing a lot of similarities between myself and Vanya, I learned how to show an audience what I’m internally processing without being overly blatant about it.  I got confirmation that even in drama, there's comedy and vice versa. For the third time over the course of my acting experience, I have felt the true meaning of an ensemble - we all are great but we are excellent when we are together.  It's theater magic at its finest.

What do I want the audience to experience/take away from the show?
This play in 2010-2011, and premiered in 2012. 5 years later, we are living through many of the things referenced in the play - climate change, violent weather, lack of unifying experiences.  I hope the audience has the same "whoa, this is happening today too" moments that I have had over the course of the rehearsals. Of course, I want them to leave smiling and feeling better than when they came in.
How does this show differ from other shows I've worked on?
This is the first lead role I've had and the character is on stage pretty much the whole show, except for a couple of scenes.  I've not had that kind of stage time prior to this, and it's pretty taxing. I've acquired a new found respect for actors who are on stage for the whole show.

How long have I been acting and what made you get involved in theater?  How did I get involved with LTA?
My grammar school did spring musicals and from 6th grade on, I was in them. I continued in high school and college and then stopped until 2000, when my son and daughter were cast in a community theater production of Barnum out at Oatlands plantation in Leesburg. I wound up being the backstage dad during the rehearsals and run, and rediscovered my love of theatre. I was cast in a show in late 2000, and have been involved in theater ever since.   LTA was one of the theaters that cast me: Teahouse of the August Moon, The Ritz, and the Underpants.  I've had a gap and am thrilled to return to the LTA family.

What advice would you give others who are interested in working in theater?
1) Grow a thick skin - rejection is NOT for the faint of heart
2) Persistence pays off - it took my 5th audition for Vanya to be cast
3) If you're cast, get off book as quickly as possible - it will help with blocking and performance
4) ALWAYS be on your best behavior - at best, 2 degrees of separation in this area - you never know who you will be auditioning for next time.