Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Interview with Erin Gallalee (The Woman from The Woman in Black)

What do you find appealing about this play?

I think this show is theatre “magic” at its best. I saw this play in London in 2005 and I thought it was one of the smartest plays I had ever seen. It was very minimalistic in set, costumes, actors, etc… and I wasn’t sure what to expect when it started. I didn’t know anything about it going in and went on the recommendation of the ticket seller. After a couple of minutes, I was intrigued by the story and the way it was performed. A few moments after that, I was completely sucked in. It’s a simple show and a simple ghost story but it delivers big moments. It’s a show that you can’t easily predict so it was fun to go along for the ride and be a little scared along the way. I would watch it over and over again. Even just thinking about it now, takes me back to that London theatre and the emotions I felt being in the audience. Not many shows I’ve seen have done that. When I saw this show on the LTA season calendar last year, I knew I had to try out.

What have you learned about yourself in playing the role of The Woman?

After one of the most intriguing (and relaxing – there was yoga!) audition experiences I’ve had, I wasn’t sure what to expect when we started rehearsals! I knew it would be a different experience playing this role, but I never comprehended how much. Since my character doesn’t have the traditional lines and interaction with the other actors to build on, one of the biggest things I’ve have to work on is my physicality and movement. There isn’t a single moment that I’m on stage that wasn’t well thought out and worked through, down to the slightest detail. I am by no means a dancer so it has really challenged me and made me aware of how even the slightest movements can change an entire scene and how a single gesture can be so powerful. Kristina is a wonderful director. She really encouraged all of us to play, try out ideas and she asked a lot of questions of us. Each rehearsal was full of making discoveries, interesting talks, laughter and chuckles of glee when we put together something we knew would really make a great moment. I have yet to grow tired of rehearsals with this show. The outcome of everyone’s work has surpassed my expectations and I’m so proud to be a part of it.

What do you want the audience to experience/take away from this play?

I think what I would like is our audience to have a great time and let yourself get sucked in! So much of our society today is based in a realm of instant gratification. We are so used to having most everything here and now and right at our fingertips all while doing 20 things at the same time. There is so much out there to see and do, that we often forget just to sit back and be in the moment. This production is special in that if you let yourself go, be present, and tap into your good old imagination, you won’t regret it.

How does this show differ from other shows you have worked on?

Usually, I look forward to each phase of the show cycle. When a show goes to tech, you’re putting on the finishing elements to prepare for an audience. Most of the time, I’m ready for the show to be seen, and end. For this show, I’m looking forward to tech week like a kid looks forward to Christmas. We still have so much to learn and do! I know we have an awesome technical crew who are going to be bringing in the best of their element and I can’t wait to see how it all comes together on the stage. And then I can’t wait for an audience to see and experience it! I hope you walk away with a similar experience that I had when I saw it in 2005 and you have a great time…and get a little scared.

How long have you been acting and what made you get involved in theatre? How did you get involved with LTA?

I was put on a stage when I was about 7 years old when my mother became my school/church children’s choir director and my siblings and I became her first automatic volunteers. I was intrigued by this thing that allowed you to be someone else for a period of time, outside of just playing around at home. It was called acting. And it was fun! My first official play was in the 5th grade. I was Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol in a school production. I have been involved in theatre ever since and have been fortunate to have performed on many local stages in the area. I first got involved with LTA in 2005 after I moved to Alexandria from Montgomery County, MD. I didn’t know much about the VA community theatre scene and my mother is originally from Arlington and told me about LTA, which was practically in my backyard from where I lived at the time. I auditioned for their production of (strangely enough) A Christmas Carol and got cast as Belle. I did two more productions of A Christmas Carol in 2006/2007 and then The Secret Garden in 2008. I was also involved in LTA’s PET (Partnership for Educational Theatre) Project that worked to bring behind the scenes and educational theatre programs for students at Lyles-Crouch Traditional Academy.

What advice would you give others who are interested in working in theatre?

Just to go for it! I’ve met so many people who have said to me that it looks like so much fun and they would do it if they only could/had more time/was talented enough/brave enough. The beauty of this theatre community is, you can be a part of it!  I would encourage those who want to be on the stage to keep yourself open, take advantage of the opportunities that are out there and audition away! We are so fortunate in this area to have so many places to take classes and so many stages to play on. If the thought of getting on stage gives you nightmares, there are so many more opportunities where anyone can get involved, help is always needed and there are so many great people who will help and teach you anything you need or want to know! And who knows, you may bring personal experiences with you that a company is desperately in need of! If you can build, paint, sew, count, pass out a program or can push a button…just do it! Yes, it’s a sacrifice of time and it’s not always easy, but it’s such a rewarding experience. And some of the people I’ve met along the way have turned out to be some of the best friends a gal can have.

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