BWW Interviews: DEBUT OF THE MONTH: GRACE's Kate Arrington
Kate Arrington is making her Broadway debut in the acclaimed dark comedy GRACE, written by award-winning writer Craig Wright and directed by Dexter Bullard. GRACE features alternating scenes of hilarity and poignancy in which life turns surreal for an eclectic foursome whose destinies collide in the Sunshine State. A wide-eyed young couple (Arrington & Paul Rudd) head south with big plans to open a chain of Gospel-themed motels. When an agitated rocket scientist (Michael Shannon) and a prickly pest-control man (Ed Asner) enter the picture, the couple's ordered world is thrown into utter chaos.
Recently received acclaim for her performance in The Iceman Cometh at the Goodman Theater (with Nathan Lane and Brian Dennehy), Kate Arrington is a Steppenwolf Ensemble member, where she has performed in The Hot L Baltimore, Detroit, A Parallelogram, Fake, The Pain and the Itch, The Well-Appointed Room and The Violet Hour. Other theater credits include Off-Broadway: Happy Now?, When the Messenger is Hot, Far and Wide, Everett Beekin, Bluebeard and Other Less Grisly Tales of Love, Sexy Saint James, and Boom.
The talented actress chatted with BWW about her new play which she describes as, "a comedy, but God knows, it's a lot more than that!"
I was at the show last night and thought it was just wonderful - very thought-provoking.
Yes, there's a lot going on huh?
Yes! In fact, the play is described as a 'dark comedy' and I'm wondering, do you see it more as a dark piece or more of a humorous piece?
Well, it's really my favorite kind of theater - it's a little of everything. I mean you have these incredible juxtapositions for instance, the last scene where it's this incredibly tense gunpoint situation and in comes Ed Asner and has a line like, 'Welcome to Florida!" And that's my favorite, where you just can't say what it is and really, to be honest, I think that's the funniest - that's as funny as anything gets as far as I'm concerned! When humor comes into those tense situations, that's when you really can appreciate it.
Which I guess speaks for the brilliance of the writing.
Yeah. I think Craig has a real gift for that. I mean my favorite writers, Bruce Norris has that too, it's almost using humor as a tool, as a weapon, against the audience, I mean not really against, but just sort of messing with the audience in a really provoking way. Yeah, I like to think of it as a comedy but God knows it's a lot more than that!
Your character, Sarah really does stay true to herself throughout the play, yet she also undergoes a transformation.
Yeah, I think she does. I mean they all do except for Steve. I think Steve is the one who can't, sort of make peace with the change. But I think with Sarah, it's an interesting thing because we sort of assume that she's in the same boat as Steve, and then there's a subtle sort of moving away. I think Sarah isn't as bought into the idea of the mentality of faith being inextricably linked to financial gain and I think that starts to veer her away from Steve. And then I think she sort of rediscovers something and, in the presence of a sham that is big, you know, as she says, 'big music.' I think that's a really cool thing about her. Christianity can be very fixed but it can also be sort of all encompassing so I think she represents that. I think she does right by Christianity at a certain point in the play by the idea of really believing in something.
Did you do any preparation for your character before rehearsals?
Yeah, we did all sorts of stuff. I come from the south, I have a very murky relationship with Christianity. I come from like Bible belt territory so I know something about this fundamentalist mentality. I did little things, like I went to Ocean Grove which is a Christian community in New Jersey. They were having their Gospel weekend and I mean an all-white Gospel, verified! It was kind of interesting. So you know, little things like that.