Friday, August 6, 2010

Coffee Talk II with Tara Pratt

Tara is a now Twenty-Something Theatre veteran, having performed in Prodigals and last summer's Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love. We last heard from Tara during her Prodigals coffee chat back in April. We're delighted she's gracing the stage with us once again this summer, and breathing laughter and life into the role of "Heather".

So tell me about a favourite show that you’ve either been in or just loved as an audience member.

Oh my gosh. You know what? It’s so hard! I have such a terrible memory. I just went to see Hair and actually I was pretty impressed because generally I’m not a fan of musicals. Anyone who knows me knows I don’t really like musicals. And I’m kind of a capitalist-bureaucrat pig, so I’m like “Oh great, I’m going to see a musical about hippies.” But actually I really, really enjoyed myself! I was kind of a convert after it happened. It was really, really good.

Umm, I’m trying to think of other productions. There was one ages ago that I saw back in Edmonton by Daniel MacIvor; it was called “In On It”. It was a two-hander – just him and another fellow. I think what made it really great was that they changed roles; so at one point they were the “gay couple”, at one point they were “father/son”, at one point they were “hetero” and they basically stood on either side of the stage, but their characterization made the scenes come alive. There was a really great synchronization with sounds cues as well. There was no set – very sparse, and no costumes. Nothing. But this two-hander came alive with their characterization and the sound cues. It was just amazing. I really, really enjoyed that. And that was YEARS ago so if that’s still in my head, that says something because I can barely remember yesterday!

What have been some of the highs and lows you’ve experienced as an actor over the years.

The lows that have come aren’t from my interactions with people. If anything, those are the highs. It’s not like I’ve ever had to deal with any really difficult people. It’s more trying to get to a place emotionally to serve a character who’s emotionally troubled. Like, for example, playing “Ophelia”. Having to do a run of this character for two weeks, I don’t want to do the whole “Oh-my-God-I’m-so-in-character-so-I-was-miserable-for-two-weeks”. That’s so superficial. I don’t think that way. But on a subconscious level I think what we have to do does affect us that way, in ways we don’t understand until we’re going through it. So I think when I’ve done shows – when I did Human Remains with Twenty-Something this time last year – that was another show that kind of got me because it was emotionally troubling. I played a lesbian character that was in love with this woman and it was an unrequited love because she maybe had homosexual feelings but wasn’t admitting them. I was in love with her and she wasn’t returning that love, and that’s how I spent the play. That’s where I got for two weeks. I would get onstage. I would do this, and then I’d get home and I felt normal but something still hung on. So that would be a low part, I guess, for me – the feeling of being emotionally worn out, abused, and walked on. And all because of your fake life! Which makes me sound like a flake! (laughs) But in a way those are the highs too because you go through the whole gamut of human emotions and that’s why we do it. That’s why we love it. I want to feel awful and shitty because then I’ll appreciate how it feels to feel great. When I feel emotionally shitty onstage, I will feel so great when the applause comes, and when the reviews come in saying we did a good job because we were so invested. It kind of all ties in. The lows are the highs, in a way.

You’ve now done a few shows with Twenty-Something Theatre. You’re a bit of a veteran. What have you noticed or how has the company itself evolved since you’ve been involved?

I’m going to start off by maybe saying something that would sound awful. I don’t know that I’ve seen evolution much, but only because when I first became involved with Twenty-Something Theatre it seems a while ago but it was really only a year ago. I was so impressed with how business-minded Sabrina is, and organized! She’s like an iceberg. By that I mean I only see about ten percent of what she’s actually doing. And even just seeing that ten percent, I was so impressed! She knows what she’s doing and what she has to do to get the show out there and to make it successful. She knew it back then and she still knows it today. In terms of evolution, I mean she probably has gotten more tricks up her sleeve as the years have gone by but I’ve always just seen a steady, high level of excellence from the company. We did Prodigals a few months ago and it was the exact same thing. I don’t have to worry about a thing. If I’m like, “Hey Sabrina, can I have a couple of comps to a certain show?” She’s on it. She has everything under control.

So getting to Blue Surge now, tell us about your character, “Heather”.

I like her. I can relate to her. She knows how to take care of herself and what she has to do. Through her I’m hopefully kind of discovering my own kind of ballsy-ness. She’s not cold and she’s not totally a hard-ass either. She has a few lines in there which indicate to me that she really does care about people. She winds up pregnant, and the fact she’s willing to do that shows she has some love and consideration for other people. When she hears Sandy being so insulted by Curt, she reacts to that with a big “Hey!” and that indicates to me that she feels concern for Sandy and she wants to stick up for her. Yeah, she’s a partier and a tough girl, but she’s not without sensitivity. Yeah, I like her. Would I completely emulate her in real life? No. She takes care of herself in such a way that she will screw other people and I’m not like that. I’ll take care of myself but I’ll make sure others are taken care of too.

How do you get into her head space?

It’s mostly body. I’m pretty comfortable in my body, but she’s ultra-comfortable in her's. So when we start rehearsal it’s trying to present myself in a different way and I find that starts informing how I speak. I’m standing in front of a naked man and I’m just like “whatever.” I think there’s a part of everyone that wants to go “fuck it all”, but we don’t. So having the excuse to drop the whole, “Oh is everyone else okay?” deal and just be out for yourself is a great exercise.

Why should people come see Blue Surge?

I’m discovering through rehearsals that it would be easy to write it off just as a dark, hopeless, morbid tale about prostitution. But I think, from seeing the rehearsals, that there are actually many more moments of comedy. Reading it, you see that it’s there. But actually seeing it up and what the actors bring to the characters, you can really see how subtle it is and how they’re bringing it out. You get those moments of happiness to not lead you down this dark path. You get enough range of happiness, sadness, and reality.

You can catch Tara as "Heather" later this month in Blue Surge. Performances run from August 24 - September 5 at Studio 16 at 8 pm. Tickets may be purchased from Tickets Tonight or by calling the box office at 604-684-2787.

~ Sarah MacKay
Associate Producer

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