BWW Interviews: Actress Kiara Feliciano Talks Two Gentlemen and the Lady of the Houston Shakespeare Festival
I talk to funny lady, actress and University of Houston grad Kiara Feliciano about the stupid things we do for love, waking up to acting's bad breath and the Houston Shakespeare Festival.
BWW: Could you give a snapshot of both plays?
Kiara Feliciano: In TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA, I play Sylvia, an up and coming Hollywood starlet.
We're putting that one in the 1930s and making it a midwest type look. It's a fun setting.
In the play, there are these two guys, friends, that live in Verona - Proteus and Valentine - both from well-to-do families. Proteus is in love with a girl named Julia. Valentine is a down with love type of guy until he goes to Milan and meets Sylvia and they fall in love.
Proteus ends up going to Milan as well to visit his friend working on a big Hollywood set, which is where he meets Sylvia. She's in her bathing suit at that moment. It's like a love at first sight. Like seeing Scarlett Johansson on the day she's filming her bikini shot. He automatically dumps Julia in order to pursue Sylvia. Then Julia decides to dress as a man, to find her lover, and she sees that he has fallen in love with Sylvia. So, there's like a whole fun thing that ensues between the four of them.
BWW: And HENRY IV?
Kiara Feliciano: With HENRY IV, Part 1 so there are two parts, we're looking at King Henry and his relationship with his son Hal. Hal is kind of this wild "Prince Harry" character. He doesn't really take his job as a prince seriously and he and his father have a terrible relationship. They don't see eye to eye. So, he seeks that missing father-son relationship out with his drunkard friend Falstaff. It's fun. We see the growth of Prince Hal, going from this really foolish guy, not taking anything seriously, to a very serious political figure that his father would be proud of.
In that one, I play Lady Percy, wife to Hotspur, who wants the crown as well. It's really an all man show. But, with Lady Percy, we get to see Hotspur's domestic life. And Lady Percy is not someone who's very submissive or quiet as a woman would be during that era. She's very strong just as Hotspur is. And very fiery just like him. They have this hot-tempered but passionate, beautiful relationship. They are each other's match. It's fun that we get to see that as well.
BWW: The plots that you are describing seem very complex. How do you make sure that the audience knows what's going on?
Kiara Feliciano: What's beautiful about the plays is that we're seeing these young people making decisions on love that are sometimes foolish. And they do it on a whim, which is something that everybody does these days. Sometimes we don't think these things through. We just dive in and go after our love no matter where they are. We face bandits. Or we defy our father. All for love.
Also, with HENRY IV, Part 1, we're looking at the youth, Prince Hal, growing up into a man. Dropping these drunkard, foolish games to actually take his position in life. And the struggles of his relationship with his father, I think a lot of us do experience problems with our own parents. I think it's accessible in that way.
BWW: You're a University of Houston grad who is working professionally now. Do you have any advice for actors just starting out?
Kiara Feliciano: I would say, stand on your two feet. You're more present that way. We can see you better. You're in the room and it automatically inspires confidence. That's one of the great lessons I learned at UH. Just be confident in what you are and what you have. Exercise what you have. And what you don't have, try to learn something new. Always be looking to learn new things.
Know what you are and carry that through. Don't lose it. Because, so long as you have that, you can't be shaken. I mean you can [We Laugh]. Certain things in this field do shake you, as in any field, I'm sure. But, you won't be broken, I think.
BWW: What you just said seems fairly encouraging but I'll ask my final question anyway. Do you have any words of encouragement for them?
Kiara Feliciano: I like to look at acting as a lover. That's the thing I want to wake up to every morning. No matter how bad the breath is, you know? [Laughs] No matter how much it insults me. Telling me I'm too big, too small, too this, too that. It's still the thing I want to wake up every morning and do. Make sure that acting is your lover, your wife, your husband. And stick with it, no matter how difficult it gets, unless you realize it isn't the thing for you. Not everyone is going to love you. But that's not the point. Our point is to tell a story.
You missed the run of TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA but you can still catch HENRY IV, Part 1 on Sunday, Aug 10th at 8:30 pm. This is a ticketed event for the covered seating area. Free tickets are available (4 per person over age 16 while they last) at the Miller Outdoor Theatre box office the day of the performance between the hours of 10:30am-1pm. If tickets remain at 1pm, the box office will re-open one hour before show time to distribute the remaining tickets. As always, open seating on the hill. For more information, visit http://milleroutdoortheatre.com/.