Featured BALLAST artist: Olivia Wilusz

Olivia Wilusz headshotWhat aspects of your [queer] identity do you hope to express through your role(s) in BALLAST?

I am not a perfect ally. And Zoe is certainly far from perfect. I think a major component of Zoe as a character is that she would gladly be an ally, probably thinks she is an ally, but she isn’t able to reconcile Grace’s needs with her own expectations of how their life together should be. I hope audiences see Zoe not as a heartless villain or as any sort of hero who valiantly “does her best” even when it’s not enough. Zoe shows us in-process imperfection, and I hope audiences see her, though imperfect now, as having the potential to learn more and change her actions.

What other artists or performances have inspired you over the years?

When I was studying abroad in London in the fall of 2015, I saw Almeida Theatre’s West End production of Oresteia, Robert Icke’s adaptation of the Greek triology. I was seated in the front row, and for the entire performance (almost FOUR HOURS) I was rapt, on the edge of my seat. It was such a visceral and engaging experience. The language was beautiful and poetic, and it was used so actively and powerfully. It was unlike anything I had ever encountered before. I’m very interested in work contemporary adaptations of classic stories that preserve beauty in the language, but not at the expense of high stakes and immediate relevancy.

When you’re not rehearsing for BALLAST, how do you spend your time? What are some of your hobbies or passions in life?

When I’m not in rehearsals, I’m usually either at work, the wonderful Spoonriver restaurant, or…I’m multitasking other work while watching tv. What can I say! I love television! I’m recently hooked on House Hunters. All time favorites include 30 Rock, Downton Abbey, and Law & Order: SVU.

Dreams play a big role in BALLAST. Tell us about a weird/scary/wonderful/funny dream you’ve had recently.

I just had this dream that I was seeing a production of Seussical the Musical (a classic). When I went backstage to say hi to some folks before the show, they told me someone in the cast hadn’t shown up, and they really needed someone to step in. I said I would do it, and then everyone just went back to business as usual. I was a little confused and starting asking questions like, “um…what part will I be playing?” and “what is any of the choreography?” Then everyone got really annoyed with me that I didn’t know what I was supposed to be doing, and when I tried to remind them that I wasn’t a legitimate understudy, that I literally just showed up, and they all started mumbling to each other about how unprofessional I was being. I woke up in a cold sweat, and then literally laughed at myself about how ridiculous of a stress dream that was.