Heather Lee Rogers comes to us by way of Flux Theatre Ensemble (where Lauren F. first met her and brought her in!). She was excellent in Jen’s play Iona Means Island, and we’re glad to have her back. You can find out more at http://www.heatherogers.com/.
#selfie 2.0 is an interview series where Lather, Rinse, Repeat playwrights interview the actor ensemble for their next night of short plays. Playwrights have free reign over the questions. The interviewee must then post an actual selfie, because we told them to.
NATALIE W. What is your earliest memory of a compelling moment of theater, and how did it influence your path to becoming an actress?
HEATHER LR. I grew up in rural Massachusetts, so I didn’t see a whole lot of theater when I was growing up. But we had class plays in school. The first play I was ever in (that had actual blocking, and wasn’t just a line of little kids picking noses adorably) was a play version of The Nutcracker. I was just a cousin in the first scene and had helped paint the big paper birch trees that represented the forest of the Sugarplum Fairy. Anyway, after the play was done and people applauded I had my first RUSH. It felt like there was this whole world of pretend we had created together and I had just felt it palpably slip away. Total magic. Playing pretend but with a whole cafeteria full of people. That’s when I decided this was what I wanted to do.
NATALIE W. On your website, you wrote that you want to “speak text and ideas that make rooms gasp”. What is your favorite gasp so far that you’ve provoked?
HEATHER LR. It’s funny. I’ve done a lot of theater with beautiful, strong language (and seek that out always), but the real live gasps I’ve experienced have been more about moments of human connection, not so much about the lines. I think my favorite reaction ever was when I was playing Emilia in Othello for a bunch of 9th graders. They were a terrible, rowdy audience; it was hell. But they really connected with our Desdemona. There is the scene where Othello is calling her a “whore”, and in our production he was just about to smack her, when Emilia interrupts by entering. So I entered. There was a real gasp. And then some kid, not sure if it was a boy or girl, in a deep-dead-serious voice said “GET HIM.” AND NO ONE LAUGHED. It taught me that Emilia’s really the only person in that play that CAN save Desdemona, she’s the only one with enough brains and guts, and the tragedy is that in the last scene she just gets there a little too late. I learned so much about my character from that kid!
NATALIE W. You also mention you want to play villains and kings. What is your dream not-usually-performed-by-a-woman role and why?
HEATHER LR. Oh man. I’m terrible at answering “dream role” questions!! I want to play Richard III, Claudius in Hamlet, Henry V (in Henry V)… huh. Why is it easier to imagine with classical roles? Is it the distance or, the precedent of gross-gender casting throughout history? But when I’ve seen theater that casts adults as kids or women as men or mixes up race roles it can be really profound. You listen differently to what these characters say and what they’re about when you are forced to get rid of the short-cut conclusions you can make when actors are cast WITHIN type. Theater is kind of about the universality of the human condition, and acting by definition is taking on a character OUTSIDE of yourself… I’m rambling.
NATALIE W. What keeps you sane in this crazy business? (or are you not sane?)
HEATHER LR. I have two keys to staying sane: The first is to see as much theater as I can so that I stay inspired and excited about making theater. Then all the masochistic horribleness of this business keeps making sense somehow. The second is to surround myself with supportive, theater-making friends who hustle hard and work all the time. We inspire each other and we believe in each other which is everything.
NATALIE W. Let’s take a moment to brag about you. Why do you think LRR asked you to be part of our awesome evening of short plays? What sets you apart as an actress?
HEATHER LR. I think Lauren asked me to be part of this because she’s seen me play around at Flux Sundays (with Flux Theatre Ensemble) where the name of the game is making big, strong, choices and running with them. I’m good at working that way. ALSO I was so enamored with her play Somewhere Safer, which she partly developed at Flux Sundays, that I approached stalker status… perhaps throwing me a casting bone was her alternative to getting a restraining order. Yeah, seriously, I do think that’s why I’m here: When I see work I like and connect with I’m very forward about introducing myself and saying point blank “I would love to work with you.” There’s this weird conceit among actors that we need to wait around to be invited to the party, nonchalantly hope to be noticed, and be all cool and aloof about it. It’s a strategy I don’t have patience for or understand. Psyched to work with all of you!
To catch Heather, Natalie and all the #LRRit gang in action be sure to keep November 2nd free and clear and Buy tickets for Mistakes Were Made: An Evening of Rom-Com and Political Shorts