Having Fun: Interview with actor Anna Richardson

Anna Richardson having some fun at a tech rehearsal for BLT's production of Frankenstein

Anna Richardson (Elizabeth) having some fun at a tech rehearsal for BLT's production of Frankenstein

Image credit: Craig Orsinger/Burien Little Theatre

Many people wonder: What makes an actor tick?  It was my pleasure to be able to chat recently with the actor playing Elizabeth Lavenza:  Anna Richardson.

Roxanne: Before Frankenstein, how many productions have you performed in at Burien Little Theatre?  In what year was the first?

Anna: I’ve done five mainstage shows for BLT and participated in two of their New Playwright Festivals.  My first show was Dracula back in 2007 in which I played a blood-sucking vampire vixen.  I then played “Child 1” in Mrs. Bob Crachit’s Wild Christmas Binge, Jennet in The Lady’s Not for Burning, Mrs. Forrest (a Joan Crawford parody) in Psycho Beach Party, and a pot-crazed zombie chorus member in Reefer Madness.  I also did several staged readings for the Bill and Peggy Hunt New Playwright Festival in 2009, and performed in the one woman show Bold Grace at this year’s festival.

Roxanne: What drew you to audition for this production of Frankenstein?

Anna: I’ve always been attracted to horror shows (see Dracula) and I’m a fan of the classic horror films.  I love the mythos surrounding Frankenstein, but was particularly excited that, like Dracula, this production was very true to the book, which will allow the performers to delve deeper in our characterizations and bring something new to the audience.  This is also a world premiere, and it’s always exciting to be part of a new work.

Roxanne: What ideas do you have for the character of Elizabeth?

Anna: Elizabeth’s greatest strength is her compassion.  She thinks with her heart.  I hope to build on that aspect of her–how protective and loving she is to the people around her, how she views the beauty of the world, etc.  It also makes her very vulnerable when tragedy strikes her family.  I’m currently reading the book and researching the early 19th century to help delve into Elizabeth’s character.  What is interesting to note is that Elizabeth has a section in the book that she narrates herself and provides her own viewpoint, something that was uncommon in literature at that point in time.

Roxanne: What is the biggest challenge you see in performing the role of Elizabeth in this version of Frankenstein?

Anna: Probably maintaining Elizabeth’s high emotional level over the course of the show.   The tragic situations in the play take a great toll on Elizabeth emotionally, which only builds as the story progresses.  From an acting standpoint, that can be a difficult thing to portray and maintain.

Roxanne: What do enjoy most about working with BLT and with director Steve Cooper?

Anna: Dracula was the first theatrical show I ever did up here in the Pacific Northwest after graduating from Louisiana State University.  Steve also directed that show.  I have a great fondness for BLT because I essentially started here.  What keeps me coming back are the choice of shows and the people.  BLT likes to push the envelope, which is terrific for both the actors and the audiences.  I always know I can expect something challenging and a little “out there” when I audition for BLT.  Like I said, I’ve know Steve since he directed me in Dracula.  He’s directed me in several other shows, including Bold Grace.  I like working with Steve because he believes very much in a collaborative process and encourages his actors to take risks.  He is very open and supportive in the creative process and believes in providing a fun working atmosphere.  At the end of the day, working for Steve and with BLT is just really fun.

Roxanne: What would you most like the audience to know about the rehearsal and performance process and the role of the actor in a large cast play?

Anna: That we’re having fun up there.  The rehearsal process is all about bringing the show together and discovering who the characters are, what makes them tick, etc.  Working with a large cast tends to create a very close ensemble feel.  You know what you’re doing won’t work unless you have your fellow actor to work off of.  My favorite part, though, is getting to share what we’ve all worked on with the audience.  The audience breathes life into the play, and I hope they enjoy watching the story unfold as much as I have being a part of it.

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