Laura is playing Dr. Watson in The Art of Living. Here, we asked her a few questions about musicals, the show, and how she approaches a new character.
Q: What was your first acting experience?
A: Mrs. Zero, The Adding Machine, senior year in high school.
Q: Are there any shows you’ve been in that really stand out from the others?
A: I don’t really have one, but if I had to say, it would be Second Voice/MaryAnne Sailors in a community production of Under Milkwood, as I’ve always loved that play and always wanted to be in it.
Q: What is your favorite thing about performing in a musical?
A: I guess it’s the wacky energy of a musical (at least musical comedies).
Q: What do you love about community theater?
A: I love the democracy of it. All are welcome. (I give Jackie Robertin a lot of credit for this. Watching the wonderful performances she got from her casts in Legally Blonde and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels was the impetus I needed to return to community theatre after a long time away.) I also like the challenge of putting on a show when there are so many time constraints on the cast and crew (e.g. work schedules, family matters, etc.).
Q: What’s your favorite part of the process?
A: Growing my character from words on a page to full flesh and blood. Discovering who my character is according to my understanding of the character and refining that understanding as I interact with the other actors.
Q: Do you have any particular techniques you rely on for getting into character?
A: I start with the text. What is my character saying? Why is she saying this? What are her motives and desires? First I read the words to myself, to hear her in my head. Then I say the words out loud, to get an exterior sense of my character and how she relates to her situation. How does she/how do I sound to the world? Then I move around. How do I use the environment of the set? How aware is she/ am I of the environment in which she/I exist? Then relating to the other actors/characters: How does their playing influence my performance? How do we interact so that we both play the truth of the moment? Finally, putting on makeup, wig and costume: The physical completion of the creation of my character, and the “hiding” or subsuming of the actor.
Q: Is there anything about playing Dr. Watson that has you particularly excited?
A: I’m very excited about playing a character who is playing a character who knows she is not the character she is playing. There’s a certain absurdity to this that I find very funny and touching. It makes me think of Michael Shannon in Empire Boardwalk, and I’m sort of using that image as I create Dr. Watson. She knows everybody knows she’s not who she says she is, yet she tries to maintain the facade, for, oh, about 30 seconds. But it’s an intense 30 seconds! And I look forward to playing my big scene with Gina Lindsey, who I know will both support and challenge me.
Also, this is my first opportunity to play a scene with my husband, Tim, that doesn’t consist of asking him where he put something in our house.
Laura is happy to be returning to The Art of Living in a new incarnation as Dr. Watson to her husband Tim’s Sherlock Holmes. This is the first time they have had the opportunity to act together as related characters. Laura would like to explore this further, possibly as Martha to Tim’s George someday in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. Tim says no, as a) it might destroy their marriage, and b) he doesn’t possess the requisite dark side. As for a), Laura says, ‘possibly’. As for b) – ‘bwahaha!’ Thanks, Dan, Liane and everyone involved.