August: Osage County-- Meet cast member Nicky McDonnell!
What do you find appealing about your character and this show? I love the solid three act structure of the August: Osage County follows the typical three-act model of setup, confrontation, resolution (or exposition, rise, fall) but Tracy Letts does this in extraordinary and unexpected ways. I was drawn to the role of Barbara because her three part arc as a character felt deeply intimidating. There was something about her that I was afraid to explore which made me think I should take a closer look.
What have you learned about yourself in playing the role of Barbara Fordham? That there is more to all of us than we care to admit. Even if this was a one year run I would continue to discover her and myself and never find either one of us completely. The writing is that good and she is that complicated.
What do you want the audience to experience/take away from this show? Probably that life is hard, messy, unfinished and often a long stare into the void. We too often wrap it up nice and tidy and tuck it in. Sometimes we can and sometimes we can’t. Letts removes all the smoke and mirrors to throw it down for what it is. Trauma and addiction lives, breathes and more often than not takes down everything within shouting distance and beyond. If we make it out the other side we are warriors or just plain lucky. The play is hugely terrifying and bigly funny in many many ways. Making an exit out of this house should symbolize the impossible and I think many people will relate to that and perhaps consider it as a real option.
How does this show differ from other shows you have worked on? It's one of a kind. It differs in every way. Every day I discover something else in the script that I missed. It’s layer upon layer. It’s the best writing I personally have ever worked with.
How long have you been acting and what made you get involved in theatre? How did you get involved with LTA? I’ve been on stage since I was 5. So I guess that’s about 100 years now. I took a long respite when my boys were born in 2003 and 2005. I moved to Alexandria from NYC in 2001. I lived just south of Old Town and happened upon LTA taking a stroll one day. I found out that they were auditioning for Master Class. I actually auditioned for one of the students in that and they gave me Maria Callas. That was the beginning of my involvement with LTA.
What advice would you give others who are interested in working in theatre? A long time ago in New York I said to my husband, “You know everyone in the world wants to be an actor. The mailman wants to be an actor.” And it’s true. It’s the best, worst thing you will ever do. You will have high highs, low lows and everything between. But that’s everything isn’t it? It can break your heart or make your day. Be good to your cast and crew. Be humble. Speak up but don’t be too sure about anything. Don’t make decisions too soon. Get the training. Find the best teachers and be brave when they tell you that you suck. Find a way to overcome flat opinions and criticism and keep learning. Find your people. Work with the ones that speak the same language. When all else fails enunciate and project. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Let it go when it doesn’t work out. Work hard when it does.