Rapture, Blister, Burn – Get to Know Renee Werbowski

20% Theatre Company is thrilled to present Rapture, Blister, Burn by Gina Gionfriddo at the Minneapolis Theatre Garage April 26 – May 10, 2014. In the weeks leading up to the show, we are giving you the chance to learn a little bit about the artists involved in the creation of this production. For this interview, we’d love for you to meet actor, Renee Werbowski.

Renee Werbowski_2895
Actor

Can you tell us a little but about yourself and your background? How/when/why did you get into theatre?

I have a Theatre degree from Augsburg College. Though, at first, I figured I’d better study something “serious”, so I thought I’d be a chem major- get a lucrative job in the cosmetics industry.  Ha!  That lasted exactly a day and a half, because though I made good grades in math/science in HS, I dropped my first chem class (it was way way, way over my head) and swapped it for a film class (this was a suggestion from my French TA).  And who was I kidding anyway~ I’ve always wanted to be an actress.  I used to do commercials into the mirror for various products in the bathroom when I was only 5.  I’d do Cher impersonations for my babysitters.  I got a tape recorder for Christmas one year and did Soap Operas, commercials, man-on-the-street interviews and variety shows on it. Somebody somewhere has evidence of this on cassette tape.

The first show I got cast in after college was A Midsummer Night’s Dream with the MN Shakespeare Co.  After that, I sort of “fell into” VO work and commercials~ what I wanted to do all along.

Tell us a little about the character you will be playing in Rapture, Blister, Burn.

My character is Catherine, and she is having a midlife crisis of identity and maturity.  She’s missing a feeling of comfort and “home” in her life.  She’s having trouble coping with these feelings.  And, she isn’t thinking clearly about the solutions, to this loneliness, that present themselves to her.

In what ways do you personally relate to this character?

I can relate to Catherine in how I can find myself wanting something- missing something but upon review, I see that I haven’t put forth any energy at all into attaining that thing.

What is exciting about your character? What are some of the challenges that you, as an actor, are facing in portraying this character?

Its going to be challenging to play an accomplished, confident person who is also at the most vulnerable point in her life so far.  There are layers here, layers and layers that have to be included in the performance.

Rapture, Blister, Burn is often called “a feminist play”. How would you describe the play? How do you feel about feminism and what it signifies today?

This play IS a feminist play.  It discusses the past and the current state of feminism.  It explores, in a very funny and intelligent way, the newest frontiers in feminism and where we all fit into it.

How do you personally balance the expectations of being female in our society with the concepts of feminism in your daily life?

Well in the beginning, I was very attached to the idea that I had to make the exact same financial contribution as my mate and he should do the exact same amount of laundry (Avery’s 50/50 theory). However, I have tended over the years to take the female house-stuff role.   This arrangement has just happened to settle that way~or did it?  Good question for discussion later.  Though my husband is 100% supportive of my two freelance jobs, what I still struggle with as a woman is reminding myself that housework IS a valuable contribution.  The money I make IS a contribution.  And, to beware of when I start to think that presenting beauty/sexiness is surmount to anything else I have to present (at a party or an audition).  That notion still creeps into my mind alot and produces so much anxiety.  And now that I’m getting older, it’s even more important that I keep that sh… stuff in check!

What else do you do in the world, outside of theatre and/or working on this production?

I am also a fitness instructor and personal trainer.  These days, I teach mostly Yoga.

Favorite restaurant to eat out at in the Twin Cities?

Yes, all of ’em.  I hate to cook.

Where did you grow up? Where are you from?

I have always lived in St.Paul/Mpls.

Do you have any pets?

I have no pets (though we will get a dog. when we’re really ready. it’s a huge responsibility.)

Rapture, Blister, Burn – Get to Know Rachael Rhoades

20% Theatre Company is thrilled to present Rapture, Blister, Burn by Gina Gionfriddo at the Minneapolis Theatre Garage April 26 – May 10, 2014. In the weeks leading up to the show, we are giving you the chance to learn a little bit about the artists involved in this production. This week, meet Rachael Rhoades, our fabulous stage manager!

Stage Manager
Stage Manager

Can you tell us a little but about yourself and your background? How/when/why did you get into theatre? 

I started as a performer when I was really young. I have a really strong background in dance and vocal music. I actually wanted to be an opera singer for most of my life, and was advised to take some acting classes to help improve my stage performance – and I just found that theatre was a better home for me. It’s been a torrid love affair ever since. Theatre and I have been together for over a decade now. I think it’s getting serious.

Tell us how you originally got involved with 20% Theatre Company?

I started with 20% Theatre Company last May, with “Changes in Time”. I got an email from Claire Avitabile, as they were starting rehearsals, after she came to see a different show I was working on, and the rest is history!

What is your favorite part of the rehearsal/production process? What are some of the challenges?

Does it make me sound like a big nerd when I say everything? My favorite part of the rehearsal process is all of it. I’m sure it does. I don’t care. I particularly enjoy the first day of technical rehearsals – it’s like navigating a boat through a hurricane, and I am an adrenaline junkie.

What types of plays/shows do you enjoy stage managing the most, and why? What are some “dream shows” you’d love to stage manage? 

I love working on new works – there’s something really exciting about being the first people to put something onstage. Theatre is really the only truly collaborative art form, but there’s something really magical about watching.

Rapture, Blister, Burn is often called “a feminist play”. How would you describe the play? How do you feel about feminism and what it signifies today?

Do I think this is a feminist play? Yeah, I do. It’s a snapshot of age-old dilemmas about a woman’s role in the home, in relationships, and in our careers.   This show has some real zingers, and what I love is that it fearlessly forges ahead with important material, but there’s definitely a sense of humor about it. I feel it makes it feel less like a lecture, and more accessible to both the creative team and the audience.

How do you personally balance the expectations of being female in our society with the concepts of feminism in your daily life?

My parents raised me to be a very independent woman; someone who could stand on her own. It was incredibly important to them that I take pride in my work, and what I’m able to contribute, versus how I look, or how I fulfill a typical gender role.   I wasn’t particularly raised feminist, but from the time I was very young I was told that everyone is beautiful, valued, and created equal, and you should always treat everyone with respect. I certainly try to keep that with me every single day. As far as expectations of being female, well…I’m not sure how to answer that. I guess I’d have to hear what you think I SHOULD be doing/feeling as a woman in 2014. And even then, I’d probably just laugh and keep on rockin’ in the free world. Ya know? I’ve never been one to read too deep into what people think of me. I’ve got better things to do.

What else do you do in the world, outside of theatre and/or working on this production?People do stuff outside of theatre?

Huh… I recently got into cooking – which to anyone who knows me is HILARIOUS. The only thing I successfully created in the kitchen was a mess…and maybe a few small fires. My brother is a trained chef and he has been helping me figure out how to make the culinary arts more accessible. He’s pretty much awesome. I can make edible things now. And they taste GOOD!

Favorite place to eat out in the Twin Cities?

Some friends and I really love wings from Tracy’s Saloon. It’s just great comfort food. We make it a weekly thing.

How did you get to Minneapolis? (Where did you grow up? Where are you from?)

I grew up in the South, but I’ve been a Midwesterner for a long time. January marked one year living in Minnesota. Before I coming here, I was in Des Moines, IA, as the Production Manager and Technical Director for StageWest Theatre Company and a Musical Theatre instructor for Brekke Dance Center. I certainly miss my family and friends in Iowa, but I’m so happy I decided to move here. Minneapolis is wonderful!

Do you have any pets?

Sadly, no. Before I moved, I had two kitties, but I couldn’t bring them with me. My roommate has a three year old miniature Schnauzer, though. I find great joy in tracking down tiny costumes and crazy haircuts for the dog. I think my roommate is less than thrilled.

 

Rapture, Blister, Burn – Get to Know Courtney Schmitz

20% Theatre Company is thrilled to present Rapture, Blister, Burn by Gina Gionfriddo at the Minneapolis Theatre Garage April 26 – May 10, 2014. In the weeks leading up to the show, we are giving you the chance to learn a little bit about the artists involved in this production. This week, meet Courntney Schmitz!

Courtney Schmitz - Lighting Designer
Lighting Designer

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background? How/when/why did you get into theatre?  

Born and raised in Mississippi, where I started attending a theatre camp in the summers (my parents had to get rid of me for a few weeks somehow). I was a terrible actor, but when I got to take the stagecraft class that was attached to the camp, I realized I belonged off of the stage instead of on it. The rest is lighting design history.

Tell us how you originally got involved with 20% Theatre Company?

Rachael Rhoades. ‘Nough said.

What are you designing in this show? As a designer, what do you find most exciting about working with this script/production?

I am designing the lights for Rapture, Blister, Burn. I think the most exciting aspect is simply working on a script that, until coming on board for the show, I was completely unfamiliar with. I get to explore a new world and ask questions that I perhaps have never really asked before.

What is your favorite genre or type of theater to design? What are some plays on your design “dream list”?

As long as it’s not musical theatre, I’m happy to design a show; I’ll find my hook into the scipt one way or another. The two plays on the top of my design dream list are Bent and Orestes 2.0.

Rapture, Blister, Burn is often called “a feminist play”. How would you describe the play? How do you feel about feminism and what it signifies today?

Feminist play is pretty accurate in a broad sense of the phrase. How I feel about feminism and that whole conversation is pretty broad and complicated, but suffice it to say that I believe we each embody our own definition of feminism.

How do you personally balance the expectations of being female in our society with the concepts of feminism in your daily life?

I just do me.

What else do you do in the world, outside of theatre and/or working on this production?

In the very small amount of free time that I have, you will either find me camped out in front of my tv watching something on netflix or you will find me belly up to a bar. In the winter, I’ve recently taken up snowboarding. And in the summer, I’m on a kickball team (Go Mighty Mullets!).

Favorite guilty pleasure snack?

Nilla Wafers

How did you get to Minneapolis? (Where did you grow up? Where are you from?)

Grew up in Mississippi. Did undergrad at University of Southern Mississippi, which led to me going to grad school at the University of Iowa. After that, I spent two years in Florida with all those retired Northerners. Then I realized, I need to move where I can find a constant stream of design gigs. So two years ago, I found myself in Minneapolis. It was a good decision. Except for these horrible winters and all the “you betchas”.

If you could snap your fingers and be anywhere in the world for a no-stress vacation, where would you choose to go at this moment?

Any beach, anywhere: Mexico, the Caribbean, South America. Doesn’t really matter, as long as there is sand, sun, and little cocktails with umbrellas in them.