Featured THE NAKED I: SELF-DEFINED Artist: Renee Roe

In what way/s are you involved with THE NAKED I: SELF DEFINED?  

I am performing in “My Dearest Selene” and “If It Might Be, It Must Be.”

Why is it important to tell the stories in THE NAKED I? 

The stories in The Naked I are powerful expressions of truth. In sharing these truths we can advance broader understanding of bodily autonomy, human connectedness, and personal power. So many are willing to share in our laughter but not our tears. These stories provide a necessary space for those who are willing to do both.

What social issues are important to you and how do they inform your work?

My heart centers around issues that require systems change. Historically marginalized people are often destroyed slowly by the socio-political and economic realities of the systems we as a society attempt to maintain. While not necessarily reflective of my entire interests or areas of expertise, I find myself typically drawn to matters of bodily autonomy (specifically gender, sexuality, and disability).

Understanding and partaking in community conversations surrounding these issues has given me a breadth of experience upon which to draw on in my work. Being able to have an impact on the hearts and minds of others is why I do what I do.
 
Tell us about your pets, real or imaginary.

Many years ago my heart belonged to my beloved pet Rocky. We would go for long bike rides and lounge about my childhood garden. One day we thought it would be fun if we went swimming at a local lake as she had never been there. Being an easily distracted child, I allowed Rocky to swim freely for a short while as I contemplated whether a cloud passing over looked more like a dinosaur or a cherry tree.

Tragically, I lost Rocky that day. She sank to the bottom, like a stone.

I have a kitten now. He likes to sit on people’s shoulders.

Featured THE NAKED I: SELF-DEFINED Artist: Atlese Robinson

In what way/s are you involved with THE NAKED I: SELF-DEFINED? 

I am directing Black Hole Queers by Jayce Koester.

Why is it important to tell the stories in THE NAKED I?

Visibility, community engagement, and healing. The vast array of individuals that make up the Queer/Trans and Queer/Trans POC community possess a plethora of experiences, stories, and identities that should be celebrated openly, validated, and given a home. Naked I is an opportunity to shape that home in a world where we find a lot of stigma and marginalization.

What aspects of your identity do you hope to express through your involvement with THE NAKED I?

My blackness, my fluidity, my femme-ness, and my creativity.

Talk about your background as an artist. What sort of artistic experience are you bringing to this production? 

My performance background is primarily in ensemble acting and spoken word. But as a student at Augsburg College I studied playwriting and a bit of technical theatre. I’m bringing to this production a variety of tools and experience that I hope shines through in this awesome show.

What social issues are important to you and how do they inform your work?

Homelessness and education. Many Trans/Queer folks need accessible safe housing and educational institutions that support us instead of leave us behind. Ultimately, it all boils down to safety and I think Black Hole Queers is a piece that gives power to Trans/Queer folks to embrace themselves and simultaneously let it be known that we will not be discarded or disrespected.

What other artists or shows have inspired you?

Sha Cage. She’s been doing amazing work for years and I value and adore her tenacity as an artist and educator.

What is your favorite hangout spot and why?

I don’t really have one. I just prefer to be with/around the people I love.

When not involved in this production, how do you spend your time? What are some of your hobbies? 

Writing, drawing, playing video games, reading, cooking, and spending time with people dear to me.

Tell us about your pets, real or imaginary.

I had two parakeets when I was kid that my parent got rid of because I was not responsible. I let them out of their cage to fly around the house around Christmas and they ended up resting in our Christmas tree after exploring, but they were really cute.

What other projects are you working on or hope to work on? 

Hopefully just performing more and completing a chapbook, maybe even being selected for the Catalyst Series at Intermedia Arts. Those are my main artistic goals for the year.

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Featured THE NAKED I: SELF-DEFINED Artist: Eddy Samara

In what way/s are you involved with THE NAKED I: SELF-DEFINED?

I’m delighted to be a writer and a performer this year.

Why is it important to tell the stories in THE NAKED I?

Queer and trans stories are often left out entirely or pathologized. It’s so empowering to participate in a project that centers art by and for our community. It’s important for us to tell our stories—and to hear our varied voices—because our experiences are more than simple stereotypes, side notes, and statistics. Claiming our own experiences and offering them as art within our community makes more room for all of us to self-define.

What aspects of your identity do you hope to express through your involvement with THE NAKED I?

I am an older, disabled, trans guy, so I wrote from that perspective. I hope my piece highlights the need for competent, compassionate trans healthcare that goes beyond hormone scripts. Trans folks are complex individuals with a range of medical needs and too often our health is jeopardized by ignorance, insensitivity or outright transphobia.

What social issues are important to you and how do they inform your work?

I’m passionate about culture-change and social justice. I continue to try to use my artistic expression to create connections—to humanize my experiences and create cracks in the oppressive systems of white supremacy, misogyny, and ableism. I look for HOPE—hearing other people’s experiences—in the poetry of everyday struggles for a more just and livable world.

What other artists or shows have inspired you?


I’ve been inspired by so many creative people, but my poem Do No Harm for THE NAKED I was directly inspired by the work of two artists and friends: Elaine Magree and Dazie Gregor. I saw both of them perform at The Marsh in San Francisco and was absolutely blown away at their creative questioning of identity and expression. Dazie’s show “I am a Man” was the catalyst to poetically explore my recent trans-masculine medical fiasco.

Featured THE NAKED I: SELF-DEFINED Artist: Devin Taylor

Featured THE NAKED I: SELF-DEFINED Artist: Devin Taylor

In what way/s are you involved with THE NAKED I: SELF DEFINED

I am a contributing writer and Assistant Stage Manager.

Why is it important to tell the stories in THE NAKED I?

I think it’s the way these stories are told through the Naked I series that is important. One thing common to all marginalized groups is the expectation that any individual can and should speak on behalf of their entire community. This restrictive way of “listening” is a passive form of oppression. It creates tension among individuals and an impulse to override the speech of others within our shared community out of fear of being misrepresented to the mainstream. The blended voices of THE NAKED I are united in message, while maintaining individuality of voice. The message of the overall production remains dialectical and constructive, while giving voice to the subjective, the personal, and the radical.

The power of performance is everything when you are trying to make people think. Not everyone integrates new information in the same way or at the same level, and people vary in their ability to adjust their way of thinking and their capacity to accept change. The multitude of stimuli afforded through the art of theatre creates a powerful means of penetrating the consciousness of all types of minds and personalities from a broad range of backgrounds and experiences.

I don’t think the significance of THE NAKED I is entirely didactic, though. From what I’ve observed in my work on the production, it has a powerful ability to create community for those looking for community. Sometimes, that is the best thing art can give.

Talk about your background as an artist. What sort of artistic experience are you bringing to this production? 

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had an intense fear of making noise. Even as an adult, I often have trouble communicating because I panic at the sound of my own voice. I learned to write at an early age and that became a safe way for me to privately express feelings and ideas, and to record the events and details of imaginary worlds and characters that filled my daydreams. I never thought of it as anything I would share, until much later.

Growing up, I tried my hand at most areas of the arts (music, movement, visual arts), and I developed an appreciation for theatre because it combined them all. I came to realize that it allowed writers to demonstrate their craft in a visible and audible way, like other artists—one that doesn’t just depend on the interpreter’s willingness to read and interpret text. When I went off to college and began studying writing, a beloved professor turned me on to the genre of creative nonfiction and I began to understand the power of shared personal experience.

I’m still reluctant to share deeply personal writing outside trusted writing groups—but I remember the relief and gratitude I’ve often felt upon reading or hearing that perfect piece of writing at the perfect time—the sense of connection and the vulnerability entrusted to me, the reader/listener. I also remember those moments when someone else’s perspective, born of experience vastly different from mine, made it impossible for me to go on thinking about something the way I always had. It’s my hope that I, in harmony with the astonishing work of the other NAKED I artists, might challenge, inspire, comfort, and connect people in a similar way.

What social issues are important to you and how do they inform your work?

I consider myself an advocate of neurodiversity, and while I have seen this concept increasingly tacked on to discussions of intersectionality, I think we have a long way to go toward realizing it in practice. It is a frontier that people are still largely afraid to approach due to lack of personal understanding and deeply embedded social and cultural stigma. In a similar vein, equal opportunity in education has also become a major passion of mine. It’s a big part of what keeps pulling me back into special education. I think every student deserves to go as far as they can, without being held back by the effects of poverty, language barriers, learning differences, or the fear of violence or ostracism based on some aspect of their identity.

Working toward a more inclusive feminist movement is also important to me. Acknowledging the intersections of race, class, sexuality, and gender identity is an important step, and one that projects like THE NAKED I strive to achieve.

What other artists or shows have inspired you?

There are really too many to name, and it would invariably send me off on a tangent not related to my involvement with THE NAKED I!

Thinking about collaborative productions, which encompass multiple genres, voices, and identities, Eve Ensler comes to mind. As an undergraduate, I performed in a campus production of The Vagina Monologues. It was the first time I had encountered work that
empowered and prioritized the types of voices and experiences represented in the
collection. It was the first time I’d seen them be anything but mocked or censored. You don’t easily forget the first time you don’t feel quite so ashamed and afraid to be you. You never forget the first time you feel powerful for it.

In general, I am inspired by people who create art against the odds or in reaction to personal adversity. I’m inspired by those who spend their creative and intellectual efforts in the humble act of teaching, molding, and nurturing others.

What’s your favorite hangout spot and why?

Book stores, libraries, anywhere quiet. Honestly, I love being home by myself. I love and appreciate the people in my life, but when I don’t get time with myself, I really, really miss me.

When not involved in this production, how do you spend your time? What are some of your hobbies? 

By day, I’m a teaching assistant in special education. By night, I’m a personal care assistant to a young woman with autism. I fit in theatre work whenever I can. I spend a good amount of time editing academic writing for friends and colleagues, and my goal is to spend more time completing my own writing projects. I devote my spare time to staying fit, volunteering, and supporting the local performing arts.

What other projects are you working on or hope to work on? 

I hope to be involved in 20% Theatre’s 2016 production of Q-STAGE in May.

Rapture, Blister, Burn – Get to Know Anya Kremenetsky

20% Theatre Company is thrilled to present Rapture, Blister, Burn by Gina Gionfriddo at the Minneapolis Theatre Garage April 26 – May 10, 2014. Over the past few weeks, we have given you the chance to learn a little bit about the artists involved in this production. In this final interview for Rapture, meet our show director, Anya Kremenetsky!

Director
Director

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

Theater is something that’s always been part of my life…I remember my parents taking me to shows at The Children’s Theater…I was completely enchanted and wanted to be up there doing what they were doing.  I think I was in my first play at the age of six.  I started out as an actor, and became interested in directing once I realized that I had a hard time focusing only on the role I was playing.  I  wanted to be involved in all the elements of the production from start to finish, and in the creation and shaping of the show as a whole.  I studied at George Washington University in DC and the Atlantic Theater Company in NYC, and have been working in the Twin Cities as a freelance director/teaching artist since I settled back home in 2007.  Last summer I joined the History Theatre staff as Artistic Associate.

Have you worked with 20% Theatre Twin Cities in the past? How and in what capacity?

I’ve been a company member of 20% since 2008, and have worked on three productions as assistant director: Standards of Care, Perfect Pie, and Where We’re Born.

Tell us what originally drew you to the Rapture, Blister, Burn script. Why did you want to direct it?

I was drawn in right away by Gionfriddo’s dry wit…it’s my kind of humor…and if a play has me laughing in the first few pages, I’m hooked.  As I kept reading, I had this eerie feeling that she had broken into my apartment and read my journals…the characters in her play articulate things that I’ve been thinking and writing about in recent years…

I can relate very much to what they are experiencing…i.e. Catherine realizing that she’s devoted her entire life to her career, and now, facing the possibility of losing her mother…wondering if there’s some “wisdom in the natural order” – creating a new family to replace the one you lose.

These women are finding that the theories and ideals they’ve long held about how to structure their lives and build relationships don’t always work in practice.  They need to find ways to be realistic while NOT losing sight of their ideals.  I have not yet reached a point in my life where I can look back and lament the roads not taken.  I’m grateful to be in a place where I’m forging those roads and have the freedom to build the kind of life I want to live.  Sometimes that freedom can be terrifying and the pressure to make all these decisions paralyzing!  But I’m not complaining, as I wouldn’t have it any other way.

What do you hope the audience will walk away from this production knowing, feeling, thinking, etc.?

Gionfriddo crams a LOT of food for thought into this play.  It’s very dense material, which is why it’s been fascinating to dig into throughout the rehearsal process.  Every audience member will walk away with something different – moments that pop, lines that strike a nerve, kernels of wisdom they might apply to their current experience… I don’t believe this play has any set message to instill into the audience…  for me, it’s a play about questions – not answers.  I hope the audience leaves the theater with much to think about and much to laugh about.

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?

I don’t know what “feminist play” really means (I suppose it could mean different things to different people) and it seems like too simple a term to describe Rapture, Blister, Burn.  This is a play that explores a number of issues and choices women face in different realms:  career, relationships, family, sexuality, etc.  Gionfriddo examines these issues in the context of the feminist movement, and how it has evolved over the decades.

This play is not only about the experience of women, though – it touches on a number of universal themes:  “The grass is always greener on the other side,” what drives our life choices, how we find our unique way to happiness and fulfillment, the search for rules & theories to make all these decisions easier…   The one male character in the play experiences these things as thoroughly as the female characters do.

How do I feel about feminism? 

Interestingly, that’s something I’ve never really thought much about before starting work on this play.  Third-wave feminist writers Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards said it best:  “The presence of feminism in our lives is taken for granted. For our generation, feminism is like fluoride. We scarcely notice we have it – it’s simply in the water.”

Though I’ve taken feminism for granted, I’ve never questioned whether I am a feminist.   I was having dinner with my dad and my grandma the other day, and I was telling them about this play…they asked me if I define myself as a feminist.  I said, “I don’t see how I could have the career I have right now and NOT be a feminist.”

I’ve heard negative perceptions of feminism expressed in the news recently, with prominent women declaring themselves not to be feminists because being a feminist is “too extreme.”  I’ve never seen feminism as a negative or extreme thing – I’ve found it to be a self-evident thing.  I believe the backlash is due to a misunderstanding of what feminism is.

It’s not about putting men down or pushing men away.  There’s nothing in feminism that’s inherently anti-male.  Pro-female does not mean anti-male.

Merriam-Webster defines feminism as:  “The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.”

That’s it.  Maybe some people would feel more comfortable re-naming that belief  to some word that sounds more gender-neutral.  Continuing to refer to it as feminism, however, serves as an acknowledgement of how things used to be, an appreciation of the progress that’s been made, and a reminder of how much work there is still to be done toward women’s rights.

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

My entire work life is wrapped up in theater in one way or another (and this I’m grateful for.)  Sometimes it feels like theater IS my life – especially in the non-summer months…and I have to remember to find balance and not get burned out.  Once the warm weather rolls around, though – I try to be outside as much as possible.  I’ve avoided committing to fringe shows and other summer productions for that very reason.  In the summer, I want to spend my time hiking, paddleboarding, camping, rollerblading, you name it – as long as it involves fresh air.

 

Rapture, Blister, Burn – Get to Know Grete Bergland

20% Theatre Company is thrilled to present Rapture, Blister, Burn by Gina Gionfriddo at the Minneapolis Theatre Garage April 26 – May 10, 2014. We are giving you the chance to learn a little bit about the artists involved in this production. In this interview, meet Grete Bergland!

Scenic Designer
Scenic Designer

 

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

I got into theatre as a overly energetic child and was hooked from the first minute. During college I found more belonging designing than I did on stage.

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

I got involved last year during Changes In Time, when I worked as an intern.

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

Scenic design.  The show examines feminism from a cross-generational perspective, examines choice and fulfillment, and manages to be pretty academic with a humorous edge. It’s casual, with a strong message.

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

I like anything I can get away with taking in a more thematic direction and help visually illustrate the message of the show.

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?

It’s a discussion. Feminism has been evolving since it’s inception, and the show makes that a point.

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

There are parts of me that would be considered traditionally feminine and others that would not. I do what makes me happy, and try to surround myself with people who do the same.

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

I like finding new places to eat, traveling, overcommitting myself and playing trivia games (although I’m actually pretty bad).

Favorite guilty pleasure snack?

DONUTS.

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

I was born in eastern Montana, grew up mostly near Tacoma, Washington, and went to school in Southern California. I never really know where to say I’m from since my life has been divided in a few places.

Rapture, Blister, Burn – Get to Know Rachel Finch

20% Theatre Company is thrilled to present Rapture, Blister, Burn by Gina Gionfriddo at the Minneapolis Theatre Garage April 26 – May 10, 2014. Here is your chance to learn a little bit about the artists involved in this production. Stay tuned for more interviews from our designers and director. Before we open the show, hear from our last actor, Rachel Finch!

Actor
Actor

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

I got cast in a play in second grade. The Brave Little Tailor. It was all downhill from there. 🙂 Kidding. I got into it in High School. That was where I fit in. I made the decision to major in Theater Performance at Viterbo University, and I’ve been enjoying the TC theater scene ever since.

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

Avery is so much fun to play – she’s got a LOT of attitude, and says exactly what she thinks. Other people might see her as rude, but she’s just really, really honest, and she misses nothing. Like it or not, you are going to get the truth from this girl.  She’s still figuring out what she wants, and really is in a place where she has a lot of freedom, but is maybe longing for some of the security that comes with a steady relationship. Learning that she doesn’t actually have all the answers throws her for a loop towards the end of the show, and we see her grapple with that too.

In what ways do you personally relate to this character?

I’m definitely in a place in my life where some of the big choices (family, marriage, career) are on my mind a lot. Even though she’s a lot younger than I am, Avery still has all those options in front of her too, and is deciding what path to take. And like Avery, I’m kinda fuzzy on what it would mean to call myself a “feminist” in 2014.

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

Her honesty and humor are my favorite things. You always know where you stand. The challenge for me here is playing someone who is so intelligent, but also really young. Avery struggles with things that aren’t clear cut, like the How-To’s of successfully navigating a long distance relationship with her boyfriend.

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 is a really hard question because there is SO MUCH in this script to talk about. I keep telling Anya that the talk-backs are going to be 4 hours long. Feminism is really personal – even in rehearsals, its hard to explain how you feel about it without referencing your own life experience. Our careers, our relationships, family life – these are the things we use to define our value. So it is really personal, and people get really defensive over labels like “Just a Housewife” or “Lonely Career Woman” and with good reason, because this is who we are. This show asks those hard questions about what should you pursue, and what will you give up to get it?

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

I think being a “feminist” has a looser definition than it has had in the past. I love being a woman, think one of the best things is about it is claiming that right to choose your own path and not apologize for it. I get tripped up, however, over the Miley Cyruses of the world. Is that feminism, because its her choice to dress in skimpy clothes and twerk her ass off? Or is she simply creating a cheap image of women as sex objects to get media attention? There are arguments on both sides. The other aspect of feminism that I see is really body-focused. Fat-shaming, Skinny-shaming, Dove Ads versus Victoria’s Secret models: what is the image of a “real” woman? There’s a lot of conflict over this as well. Randy said this in rehearsal and I think it kinda sums it up: you see a female celebrity on the cover of People Magazine with an article about an unflattering photo of themselves in a bathing suit. In the article, they all say “This is my body and I’m proud of it!”…. and then they lose 20 pounds. We’re torn between wanting to embrace our bodies as they are, and also wanting to fit society’s standards of beauty. We’re a work in progress.

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

I work in Human Resources at Twin Cities Public Television. I’m a novice runner, and starting to train for the Women Rock 1/2 Marathon in August.

Favorite restaurant to eat out at in the Twin Cities?

Salut Bar American. Fabulous wine, and really good beef. When I want a hamburger or steak, this is where I go.

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

I grew up in Blaine, and while I still go there to visit my parents, I never want to live in a suburb again. I’m a city girl, and I have an apartment on Grand Avenue in St. Paul. I’ve lived in London and New Zealand as well.

Do you have any pets?

I have a tuxedo cat named Groucho, and I am absolutely smitten with him. I was always a dog person, and now I’m one of those women with a picture of her cat on her desk at work. How did this happen?

Rapture, Blister, Burn – Get to Know Christine Sweet

20% Theatre Company is thrilled to present Rapture, Blister, Burn by Gina Gionfriddo at the Minneapolis Theatre Garage April 26 – May 10, 2014. Opening night is less than a week away! We are giving you the chance to learn a little bit about the artists involved in this production. Meet Christine Sweet in this interview!

Actor
Actor

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

I was in an acting apprentice program in Boston many years ago. At age 25 I chose a different career path, radio broadcasting. I didn’t formally return to theater, i.e., auditioning, till a few years ago when I was cast in Freshwater Theatre Company’s Desperation Panties, directed by Claire Avitabile. Since then I’ve had roles in several Twin Cities theater productions, and it’s been like coming home. I am absolutely thrilled to be part of 20% Theatre’s production of Rapture, Blister, Burn.

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

Alice is the 70-ish mother of the lead character, Catherine. She has recently had a heart attack but does not want to be fussed over. She is devoted to her daughter and only child, whom she gave birth to later in life, and her goal is Catherine’s happiness and comfort. Unlike her daughter she’s not highly educated nor career-driven, but she’s perceptive and independent and I don’t think she could have raised a child like Catherine without possessing those traits. She’s enjoyed being a mother and has accepted her traditional role, but some of her advice for Catherine is a little surprising nonetheless. I imagine that Alice had quite an independent life as a single woman before she married and became a mother.In what ways do you personally relate to this character?Alice is a character from my mother’s generation, or the generation between my mother’s and mine. I’m a Boomer who came of age during a time of tremendous social change, including the women’s movement this play references, and my goals were facilitated by the feminism of that time. My life has been very different from my mother’s. However, I’m quite familiar with a lot of the traditional expectations of women that Alice represents, because those influenced my childhood and early adolescence as well.

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?  

Rather than a “feminist play”, I would call it a play about feminism. It’s also about anti-feminism. And the consequences of both – yes, there’s something for everyone here! And it’s not just for women! The play offers no pat conclusions but reflects back to us, through the views and experiences of three generations, the complexities of the places in which we continue to find ourselves. While it is a comedy, working on RBB has stimulated deep discussion among our cast and director, and I’m sure it will do so among audiences.

Personally, I owe some of my significant career opportunities in a male-dominated field to feminism. Regardless, it has not been an easy ride. There were few women in radio when I started, and it was uncharted territory. I could write a book. Maybe I will someday. I feel concerned when I hear some young women today wishing not to be identified as feminist, or with what they think the word means – I admit I’m not sure what it means to them. Feminism was and is about freedom and equal rights. It concerns me that we are still in danger of losing some of the rights gained by the women’s movement, even as we often take them for granted now. The sense of deja vu and “didn’t we already fight this battle?” is stunning and frequently discouraging. Like the civil rights movement of the 1950s and ’60s, the struggle continues even while on the surface, so much progress has been made.

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

Wow, I have so much to say about this, I couldn’t possibly cover it all here. The short version is, my life experiences have confirmed over and over that being true to myself is the most important thing to me. The point of feminism is having the freedom to do that, whatever it entails for me as a woman and whether or not all my desires coincide with feminist principles. Being told I can’t do something – a career, a sport, etc. – because I’m female was and is one of the most hurtful things I’ve ever heard in my life. But I never took it to heart, and feminism has helped me in that. Today in our society the opposite message is more prevalent, and I’m very glad of that.

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

I still work in radio, now as a producer after many years as an on-air host.

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

I grew up in the Boston MA area and moved to Chicago in my late 20’s for a radio job. I’ve lived in the Twin Cities for over 30 years, having come here to work for MPR.

Rapture, Blister, Burn – Get to Know Kelli Gorr

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. In this interview, meet actor, Kelli Gorr!

Actor
Actor

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

Hi, my name is Kelli and I’m a recovering radio announcer. I spent 14 years as a DJ and talk show host in St. Cloud, MN. Now I lead Cargill’s Information Protection training and awareness activities globally.

I’ve been on stage since I was little. Dance. Theatre. Emcee. (You haven’t lived until you’ve emceed a Stearns Country Dairy Princess Pageant). Theatre is a hobby of mine and competes with dancing, biking, reading and watching films. Mostly I just like the applause.

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

Gwen is a housewife (which is a rare breed these days). She dropped out of graduate school, married and started a family. Now at 40, with a failing marriage she wonders if she would have been happier if she had taken a different path. Gwen is not shy about letting others know how they fall short. She is the quintessential nag.

In what ways do you personally relate to this character?

One of the things I relate to is Gwen’s struggle to be happy with her life – to find contentment. Gwen struggles to find contentment and is often pushing and pulling those around her to do more and do it better. For me it’s a reminder to focus on what you have instead of what you lack.

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

Gwen is often oblivious to her selfishness. Playing some of those scenes with a straight face…that’s tough.

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?

Before this play I think I’d given roughly thirty seconds of thought in my life to feminism. I think the thought was, “Why would someone burn their bra?”

In my defense…

I’ve been fortunate enough to grow up in a country and time where it’s never occurred to me that I wouldn’t have the same opportunities as a man. I thank those who have done the hard work and crusading to make that possible. Maybe a woman not even thinking there are barriers to do and be whatever she likes is a measure of their hard work. That said, the play has definitely been an education.

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

My fiancée, Joel and I live in St. Paul, where we bought a home from 1887, which means lots of home improvement. This is the year I get the jungle (that is our yard) under control.  Bring on spring. When we’re not working on the house we’re seeing films, biking and boarding together (that’s a longboard skateboard for him) and seeing good Twin Cities theatre.

Favorite restaurant to eat out at in the Twin Cities?

Too tough. Too many I’d like to try again.

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

I grew up in White Bear Lake, just north of St. Paul. I’ve also lived in Rice Lake, WI and St. Cloud, MN.

Do you have any pets?

Yes, two cats and a dog. Sméagol and Precious are our two cats and Chiyo is our long-haired Chihuahua. If you don’t like pets, I probably don’t trust you.

 

Rapture, Blister, Burn – Get to Know Reena Novotnak

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. In this interview, meet our assistant stage manager, Reena Novotnak!

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

When I was 14 I had the opportunity to study at the Milwaukee Rep Summer Theater Conservatory. At the time, I thought I wanted to be a songwriter, and I did it to learn more about musical theater. To my surprise, I fell in love with theater instead. I went on to major in Dramatic Literature at Lawrence University and moved to Minneapolis in 2012 for an internship at The Plawyrights’ Center.Tell us how you originally got involved with 20% Theatre Company?A friend of mine, Kris Gebhard, performed in 20%’s Q-Stage last fall. When I saw that 20% was hiring for a show this spring, I jumped to apply!

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

My favorite part of the rehearsal process is that first moment when the chemistry between two actors becomes vibrant. It’s the second when the show really comes alive, when the story begins to feel real. My least favorite part? Moving furniture. Hands down.

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 most enjoy stage managing shows that are a little on the abstract side– ones with dream sequences or elements that step out towards the fourth wall. For that reason, if I could stage manage any play, I think it might be Eugene O’Neill’s Desire Under the Elms. It’s absolutely in the realm of realism, but every emotion feels so heightened, and all of that gorgeous lighting…

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?

I would describe RBB as an exercise in second wave feminism, insofar as the feminism that I identify with has branched past a lot of the ideas that the play explores. When I think about feminism in my life, the idea of “having it all” is no longer part of the lens. At the same time, I don’t think I’m the intended audience for the message of the show. I know that “having it all” was absolutely the focus of my mother’s feminism, and to “to porn or not to porn” remains a large question for her generation.

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

Being a woman still means being a second class citizen, and the goal of feminism is to end that oppression. Not only do women continue to struggle in the workplace making 77 cents for every male dollar, women’s bodies– particularly women of color and trans women– are trotted out for public consumption while as many as one in three women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime. There has been a great deal of demonization of feminism as man-hating or extreme by those who stand to lose power in equality, but I don’t seen anything particularly extreme about asking to live safely.

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

I play the piano and sing, and I try to write plays… if I can sit still long enough.

Favorite place to eat out in the Twin Cities?

Lotus to Go Go in Loring Park

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

I grew up in Milwaukee, and I moved to Minneapolis fall of 2012 for an internship at The Playwrights’ Center. Gosh, I just loved the cold so darn much I thought, “why not stay?” (Kidding of course)

Favorite song or band at the moment?

I’m loving Anaïs Mitchell, particularly her album “Hadestown” which is a gorgeous rock opera based on the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice.