Friday, April 23, 2010

Coffee Talk with Tara Pratt

Tara is another familiar Twenty-Something face. Although I’ve known Tara for a few years we didn’t actually have the opportunity to work together until last summer when the original actress playing Jerri in Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love had to pull out. Consequently I asked Tara to come in and read for the role and was instantly blown away. I couldn’t be happier to have her back with us again and playing the role of Jen in Prodigals.

Tara, what is your favourite role to date and why?

At the risk of sounding a bit cliché, I found the opportunity to play Ophelia one of the most unexpectedly challenging undertakings so far. Our greatest, most satisfying challenges as actors, I think, come when we take our characters beyond the text, dive into the subtext and see what else might be there for us to portray. It's rather easy to play Ophelia as the hapless patsy (and, undeniably she often is!), but there's nothing interesting in playing only one dimension of a character. I was given the chance to explore the antithesis of what is usually understood to define her; I got to be angry, frustrated, and above all, human. I feel fortunate that I didn't have to fall into the trap of playing up her victimization, and that made it a very rewarding experience for me.

And, tell us your “I wanna be an actor” story…

You know, I don't have one "a ha!" moment to look back on. Instead, I remember entire evenings in my childhood spent dramatically falling back onto my bed, the unfortunate victim of a shotgun blast in my latest action flick. Or walking to school and pretending I was the fifth Ghostbuster. I was always unusually (disturbingly?) connected to movies I would watch, to the point where I would start incorporating them into my life. As I grew older I suppose I just started channeling that desire of wanting my life to BE a movie into wanting to MAKE movies and, thereafter, to just wanting to perform, to wrap myself up in another world, in somebody else's story. It's grown-up Tara's way of being that fifth Ghostbuster.

(photo courtesy of Tara Pratt)

How do you relate (or not) to your character, Jen, in the play?

If I've learned anything about myself in these years of coincidence and chaos, it's that I'm a strong person, but I have my moments of crippling sadness and helplessness, much like most of us poor human creatures I suppose. Jen, god love her, she's badass enough to punch out her boss, and yet she still answers to the ghost of a man who abandoned her years ago, and all of her self-development goes out the window when he returns. While I can't relate to that specifically (I've got a pretty awesome network of people in my life who give me so much love and support that I'm in danger of getting a swelled head, I think), I relate to her beautiful conflict, of fighting off the world and not taking any shit one moment, and the next being overwhelmed by the feeling that I don't quite fit in anywhere, and wondering if I ever will. And hating myself for even caring about that in that instant.

Why do you think people should come out to see Prodigals?

I think this is such a wonderful play because it just GOES. There's a beautiful mixture of humor and heartbreak, and god who can't relate to that? Sean has written a piece that universally appeals I think, and Peter and the entire production crew has helped to make that important transition from page to stage, taking the nuances of the writing and helping them find their voice in the theatre. This play is memorable, dammit. You'll laugh and you'll cry, you'll go through the gamut of our human experiences. And isn't that what theatre's about?

Finally, if you had one piece of advice for aspiring young actors, those just starting a training program or going to their first audition, what would it be?

Don't ever try to be someone else. Learn from your peers and your heroes for sure, but always remember that what makes this form of expression so wonderful is there is no right and wrong way to do it, you just have to root yourself in a place of honesty and bring yourself to the table. Breathe. When you're waiting to get into the room or do your scene for the class, throw away those paralyzing fears that you have to DO IT a certain way, and instead work from that place of love; for the art, for the other people creating it with you, for your place in it. Approach everything with the knowledge that you have something to contribute, and you also have something to learn. The people auditioning you and teaching you WANT you to succeed, it makes their jobs much easier. And if you don't get the part, remember: when they first started out the Beatles were rejected a lot, too. Perspective.

Thanks to Tara for sharing with us her perspective. We open in less than a week!!!

See you at the Havana!

~Sabrina Evertt
Artistic Producer

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