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BWW Interview: Theatre Life with Holly Twyford

BWW Interview: Theatre Life with Holly Twyford
Holly Twyford

When an actress has a long and distinguished career they are sometimes referred to as a Grande Dame. Today's subject Holly Twyford is what we call the Grand Damn! of DC Theatre. Throughout her many years of performing at pretty much every large theatre in town she proves time and time again that she is a force of nature every time she steps onto an area stage. Holly can currently be seen in the Round House Theatre production of A Doll's House, Part 2. The show is running through June 30th at the Lansburgh Theatre while Round House Theatre completes its renovation for a fall re-opening.

Holly's awe-inspiring list of credits includes everything from comedies to Shakespeare to heavy drama and much more. A few of her many performing credits include Time Stands Still and Dirt at Studio Theatre, Sex with Strangers, Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, and A Little Night Music (musical theatre debut) at Signature Theatre, Lost in Yonkers at Theater J, The Taming of the Shrew and A Midsummer Night's Dream at Folger Theatre, Or, at Round House Theatre, The Laramie Project and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf at Ford's Theatre, and We Are Proud to Present a Presentation About the Herero of Namibia, Formerly Known as South-West Africa, From the German Sudwestafrika, Between the Years 1884-1915 at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company.

Holly is equally comfortable being on the other side of the footlights. As a director she has helmed productions for Adventure Theatre, Theater J, Capital Fringe, Studio 2ndstage, No Rules Theatre Company and Factory 449.

It should also come as no surprise that Holly is a multi Helen Hayes Award winner.

A Doll's House, Part 2 was pretty incredible on Broadway but with Holly Twyford and her stellar cast mates in the Round House Theatre production I'm positive it exceeds the original. Grab some tickets and see for yourself.

All hail to Holly Twyford! She is truly DC theatre royalty and a huge reason why attending a performance here is so enjoyable.

What was the first show you saw as a child and after seeing it did you then know performing was going to be your chosen profession?

I was very lucky as a child. My parents took me to all sorts of things and I remember a lot of it. I specifically remember sitting front row center for the touring production of Annie when I was around ten years old. But did I know that that's what I wanted to do? I don't know. I think that it was eye-opening that that was something that people could do, and that was exciting.

Where did you receive your training?

I was in two years of the Boston University acting track before they cut me from the program. So I have a degree in Theater Studies from Boston University, but I made the best of it.

What was your first professional performing job?

My first professional performing job was Her Aching Heart, which was in the now-defunct Consenting Adults Theater Company, which we performed at the Woolly Mammoth space when they were on Church Street, back in the early '90s.

BWW Interview: Theatre Life with Holly Twyford
Holly Twyford and Craig Wallace in the Round House Theatre production of
A Doll's House, Part 2. Photo by Lilly King.

Can you please tell us almost everything we need to know about A Doll's House, Part 2 including something about your character?

When last we met Nora Helmer, she had had an epiphany that she'd been living a lie for years. She said to her husband that although she may have seemed cheerful, she was not happy. Unlike many women, she decided to do something about it. So she left - she slammed the door and started a life of her own. As for A Doll's House Part 2, come with an open mind.

Every performer has a preparation process before starting work on a production. What was your pre-production process for A Doll's House, Part 2?

Part of it was studying A Doll's House "One" again, which we all studied in high school a hundred years ago. I had to review that. There wasn't much of a process, because I knew I was going to be on stage with Craig Wallace and Nancy Robinette and Katie Tkel. There was a lot of discovery in the rehearsal process, and that was what made it so exciting.

BWW Interview: Theatre Life with Holly Twyford
Nanna Ingvarsson in Factory 449's production of The Amish Project. Production directed by Holly Twyford. Photo by C. Stanley Photography.

You have also directed a number of shows around town. Was directing something you always wanted to do?

Maybe subconsciously there was an interest in directing, such as when I was in rehearsals offering my opinions about things, but not consciously.

Do you feel that you could direct yourself in a production?

Unfortunately it is something that actors have to do sometimes. I've been lucky enough that I have not had to do it in a long time because I've been working with talented directors who know how to communicate, and communicate very well. But an actor who tries to direct him- or herself - it's impossible to do. You need that outside eye.

BWW Interview: Theatre Life with Holly Twyford
Holly Twyford and the ensemble of the Signature Theatre production of
A Little Night Music. Photo by Paul Tate DePoo III.

Your distinguished performing career includes everything from light comedies to classics to heavy drama to singing Sondheim. Can you please pick a few of your favorite productions that you have performed in and please explain why you chose what you did?

I loved doing A Little Night Music - it's my mom's favorite show of all time, and I think she came and saw it nine times. That was particularly nice. There have been many other roles that I'm thrilled I've had the chance to do.

What does the 19/20 season hold in store for you?

I'm directing a play at Signature Theatre called Escaped Alone, by Caryl Churchill.

Special thanks to Round House Theatre's communications team of Anna Russell, Sarah Randall, and Deb Fiscella for their assistance in coordinating this interview.

Theatre Life logo designed by Kevin Laughon.

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