BWW Interview: Rosa Gilmore in THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST at TRT
Two River Theater, under the leadership of Artistic Director John Dias and Managing Director Michael Hurst, continues the 2017/18 Season with Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, directed by Michael Cumpsty.
The cast of The Importance of Being Earnest includes Randy Danson (Lady Bracknell), Rosa Gilmore (Gwendolen Fairfax), Mahira Kakkar (Miss Prism), Chris Kipiniak (Rev. Canon Chasuble), Sam Lilja (Algernon Moncrieff), Bob Mackasek (Merriman), Federico Rodriguez (John Worthing), Henry Vick (Lane), and Liesel Allen Yeager (Cecily Cardew).
Broadwayworld.com had the pleasure of interviewing Rosa Gilmore who plays Gwendolen Fairfax in the Importance of Being Earnest.
Gilmore's theatre credits include Lucentio in The Taming of the Shrew (The Public, dir. Phyllida Lloyd), This Is How It Ends (59E59), Robin Hood, Three Sisters, The Coming World (Williamstown Theatre Festival), Sehnsucht (Jack Theater). She has performed television and film roles in The Handmaid's Tale, Elementary, Going Places, Modern Love. Gilmore has an MFA from NYU, Graduate Acting.
Tell us a little about the earliest role you ever played.
It wasn't my earliest acting experience, but whenever I'm asked to think of a role I played when I was a kid, what comes to mind is a play my 8th grade class wrote and performed. It was called .01%, referring to the percentage human DNA differs. The plot was about a bunch of aliens (naturally) who were determined to find out why humans kept discriminating against and killing each other if they were-are-really all 99.9% the same. I was one of three aliens who landed on the planet, dressed in 70s attire (we'd gotten the time period wrong), to interview humans and find out what the problem was.
We'd love to know a little about your time at Tisch.
I really can't overstate how important the grad program at Tisch was to me. The community it opened me up to was invaluable. I often find myself filled with renewed appreciation and gratitude for the things I learned, especially when working on a play like Earnest. There's such a specific style to Wilde's play, and it requires the most detailed attention to text, to pitch, to accent, to breath, to Alexander Technique while wearing a corset. The list goes on. And I feel so lucky to have the toolbox school gave me to tackle the play. But even outside of the work, my training is with me everyday. We were taught to embrace possible failure, and rather than apologizing for it, to say, "you're welcome." It's the NYU Grad Acting mic drop-to have the courage to embrace each try, whether successful or not, and just say, "There you go. You're welcome." And maybe even more importantly, we were taught to embrace the joy.
What advice do you have for young people who are interested in the theatre profession?
As for advice, I guess it might be related to "you're welcome."-Don't be afraid of failure. In fact, be proud of failure because that's where you get to learn. That's when you get to grow. Never let fear stop you from taking the leap. And cultivate your imagination. Whether by reading a novel or going to a museum, whatever-let the instrument that is your empathy always be in tune.
What are some of the challenges of your role as Gwendolen Fairfax?
Gwendolen exists in a world full of restrictions, and that creates a delicious challenge. She's so full of passion, delight, love. But because she's a woman living in the 1890s and because of the family she's been raised into, all of that feeling can only be revealed just so. Under the surface, she's a lot like me. But the challenge is finding the balance of what and when that's allowed to show. Sometimes even one single line of her text will have in it both that containment and the expression of passion sharing the same breath!
Tell us a little about the cast and creative of The Importance of Being Ernest.
Working with this group of people has meant working in a room filled with laughter. What could be better? Everyone has such a grasp of the language, and such incredible comedic timing, I am inspired and in awe every time I step into the rehearsal room. And our director Michael, being an actor as well, is incredibly sensitive and attuned to our instincts on stage as well as our questions. As for the creative team? Wilde's world is overflowing with richness and it's thanks to their brilliance that we get to play in it. And if only I had words to describe the dresses!!
How do you like working at TRT?
It's such a joy to work at TRT. They take such incredible care of us, as artists and as people! It's a peaceful haven where you can really dig into your work. And it's the staff's care that even makes that possible. Not to mention the community. It really feels like we've been invited into a family.
For the future?
I hope to be continually challenged and inspired in my work. To continue to grow as an artist. In hopes that I'll be able to inspire others.
Anything else, absolutely anything you want our readers to know.
I think the final thing I'd want our audiences to know, is something Michael talked to us about on our first day of rehearsal. The Importance of Being Earnest is a fluffy, witty, and sometimes ridiculous play. On the surface. But it is written by a man who was experiencing great pain in his life. A man who wasn't allowed to be with the man he loved because of cruel and inhuman laws in his country. So he wrote a satire of his society, and it sure is biting. But to his characters, the love in his play is real. And he wrote of an imagined world of the greatest emotion, in which rules are broken for the sake of that love. So don't be fooled by the fluff. There's an iceberg of meaning below the surface.
Performances of The Importance of Being Earnest will begin in Two River's Rechnitz Theater, 21 Bridge Avenue, on Saturday, November 11 and continue through Sunday, December 3. The opening night performance is Friday, November 17 at 7pm. Tickets are available from 732.345.1400 or www.tworivertheater.org.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Rosa Gilmore