BWW Student Center Interviews: Cast of UMass Theater's SUITORS
by Natalie Grillo
What I love most about the theatre is the passion the actors have for their work. During my interview with three actors from 'Suitors', it was evident how much they cared about the story they are telling, the characters they are portraying, as well as the people they are working with.
Directed by Kara-Lynn Vaeni and translated and adapted by Harley Erdman, Suitors is an interpolation of two plays. The main play is Count Partinuplés by Ana Caro. This play is a magical fairytale about an empress, Rosaura, who puts a spell on the man of her dreams and puts him to a test of love. In the meantime she is putting off three other suitors who her advisors want her to marry. The other play, The Moldy Graces by Feliciana Enriquez, is about six grotesque and drunken suitors who serenade three very horny sisters. I sat down with three of the cast members, Monica Giordano, Sam Warton, and Dan Kadish, to talk about their backgrounds, characters, and the show itself.
Monica Giordano, who is a senior at the University, fell in love with theatre when at only nine years old she first read Romeo and Juliet and fell in love with the "musical" language. She has worked with and performed with Shakespeare and Company, and will continue to pursue theatre after graduation. Monica plays Rosaura, who she described as being "fiery, impassioned, driven, and also insecure." She finds that the most challenging part of her role is letting herself fall in love every night with actor Dan Cuff who plays Count Partinuplés. She understands how apparent it is when two actors are pretending to be in love. The challenge she says is opening yourself up to the situation and falling in love during each show. At the same time when I asked her what the most rewarding part of her role was, her answer was the same, getting to be in love for an hour and a half every night.
Theatre came to Dan Kadish at a very young age. His mother had done theatre and as a baby he was performing puppet shows. Living close to New York City he was exposed to all types of theatre growing up. Now as a junior at UMass Amherst, Dan is playing Gaulín who is the, "sidekick, comic, easygoing funny man, who also has respect for the Count." The most challenging part for him is the physicality of the role, which he says is built up by an "insanity workout" he and the rest of the cast endure before each rehearsal. As for the best part of the production, having translator Harley Erdman in the room during the rehearsal process has been for him "a gift and a wonder" because he is able to work with the cast on the lines, change the script on the spot if necessary, and is able to receive input from the cast members, which is very rare thing for actors of a play.
Sam Warton is a junior who fell into theatre by accident. He was the high school jock who took a theatre class because of a schedule mix up and fell in love with it. Upon graduation next year he hopes to work with his brother at the Fringe Festival in New York City. Sam plays the King of France, who he describes as being "washed up, old, and disillusioned." Sam's biggest challenge of playing the King of France was dropping the overacting, Elizabethan style and making it more real in order to fit in with the world they had created. The most rewarding part for Sam is being on stage with Monica and Dan and the rest of the cast.
I then discussed the play with these three actors and asked them what they thought of the combination of the two plays. Sam thinks it is a good juxtaposition and that interlude, The Moldy Graces, is a whacky mirroring of the first play, and is very comical. Monica feels that there is a great balance because "one story is magical and poetic while the other story is very body and of the earth. Together they balance and leaves us in our own world." Dan agreed saying that it uses magic into a specific place that is otherwise worldly.
When asked what they wanted audiences to take away from Suitors, each oft their answers had a sense of beauty and fantasy. Dan described the reality of dreams and imagination, and not only how the audiences will take away the idea of having dreams, but how they will also see the characters taking away the same dream ideas inside of the play. Not taking yourself too seriously as a person, and letting yourself go by dreaming and being creative is something Sam hopes people walk away with. Monica would like people to question the idea of if it is dream or reality, and if it is a dream is that enough. She feels the lofty goal of achieving dreams and making the dream world become a reality, is the importance of the magic of theatre. Monica then provided a quote from the show that had just been added, which they all felt summarized the meaning of Suitors: "One day we shall be fearless, free, unfettered, we shall write laws the world shall be our stage, we shall be kings and rulers if we choose, we shall be heroes on that distant day. Til then though I dwell in desolation let no one deny me my imagination."