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BWW Interview: SENSE & SENSIBILITY's Alejandra Escalante

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The Guthrie Theater opened its season with a new adaptation of Jane Austen's SENSE & SENSIBILITY by writer Kate Hamill and directed by Sarah Rasmussen, artistic director at the Jungle Theater, in her Guthrie debut. The play, like the novel before it, is full of light humor and romance and is by all means sensible. Actor Alejandra Escalante seems to be, as well. Playing Dashwood sister Marianne, Escalante gives a delightful, no nonsense interview in 6 Questions & a Plug -- just as you'd expect from this show.

Can you describe the story of SENSE & SENSIBILITY to our readers from the perspective of your character, Marianne?

I'm in love! I'm heartbroken! My sister doesn't understand me. I'm in love. I love my sister so much!

Just kidding, kind of...Marianne's story is full of love and loss, but in the end she gains strength from her experiences and her amazing sister.

What do you feel is the point of this story and the lives these sisters lived in the setting of the late eighteenth century?

The story of resilience is quite powerful. At a time when women's voices weren't taken seriously, these two women (who begin the story in quite a low place) make it through to find their own happiness.

Do you think this story, written in 1811, can apply to young women today? Can we take any lessons from a story like this now?

I think as women we are often told to find our worth through men. Or we are put in competition for the approval of men. These sisters grow because of each other. (The lovely men are just a bonus.) Life lesson: support your fellow female. Only good can come from it.

This is your first Guthrie production; how did you get cast in it and what do you think of the Guthrie, the director (Sarah Rasmussen) and working in Minneapolis?

I got cast through auditions in New York with Sarah (director) and Kate (adaptor) in the room. I've wanted to work at the Guthrie for quite some time and it has not disappointed. It is a beautiful and supportive organization. Combined with Sarah Rasmussen as our director, it has been a dream. She is so trusting of her actors and was always happy to support our creative choices.

You graduated from Boston University and have worked in Chicago and New York, among other cities -- do you find many differences between audiences (and theatres) in these various big cities? What have been your favorite places to work?

I have worked in a lot of cities and I can't say that the audiences are supremely different. I mean, I suppose they come with their quirks and personalities. I guess you may notice some patterns, like some nights are more popular than others or maybe they're more excited by drama vs. comedy. The more I think about it, maybe I could write an essay on different audiences. I've loved working everywhere for different reasons. I have a soft spot in my heart for Chicago because I grew up there.

When did you know acting was what you wanted to do, and where did you get your start?

I've known I wanted to be an actor for a LONG time. It started with binge watching "I Love Lucy" episodes, before binge watching was a thing. I wanted to be just like her. When I was 12 years old I did my first play. QUARK VICTORY. I had a solo. And now here we are.

What is next for your career? Where can audiences see you in the future?

I can't say yet what my next job is, but I can say that it involves a character that is pretty much the complete opposite of Marianne.


Alejandra Escalante Bio:

GUTHRIE Sense and Sensibility. THEATER Goodman Theatre: 2666, The Upstairs Concierge, Measure for Measure, Song for the Disappeared (New Stages); New York Stage and Film: Fingersmith, Another Word for Beauty; Oregon Shakespeare Festival: The Tempest, A Wrinkle in Time, The Tenth Muse, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Romeo and Juliet, As You Like It, Measure for Measure. FILM Tee'd Off. TRAINING B.F.A., Boston University, Rex Harrison Scholarship

More info:

Adapted by Kate Hamill
Based on the novel by Jane Austen
Directed by Sarah Rasmussen

About the show: Full of humor and emotional depth, a fresh adaptation of Austen's treasured novel opens the season in a bright, bold and theatrical way. Set in late 18th-century England, Sense and Sensibility centers on sisters Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, whose lives are turned upside down when their father passes away suddenly, leaving them penniless and with reputations at stake. Together the women must learn to mix sense with sensibility to find happiness in a society where love is ruled by money.

Playing now through Oct. 29 on the Wurtele Thrust stage, tickets are available at www.guthrietheater.org.


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