In Part 2 of our series of interviews with the director and cast of Kensington Arts Theatre’s Spring Awakening, meet Catherine Callahan (Martha).
Joel: Why did you want to appear in Spring Awakening at Kensington Arts Theatre?
Catherine: I have always wanted to be in Spring Awakening ever since I heard the music. The score is gorgeous and I first heard it as a high school freshman and it really spoke to me as a growing teenager trying to find out who I was and it still speaks to me still trying to figure out who I am.
Tell me a little bit about Martha?
Martha is a young girl keeping a dark secret to herself. During the show, one of her friends mentions that Martha’s braid is coming loose to which she reacts extremely nervous and upset. Martha reveals to her friends that her father beats her when she does not do as he likes. Martha grows through finally being able to express her feelings and realizing that other characters are going through the same issues and feelings, as do many of the other characters in the show.
How do you relate to Martha?
I think that we all have secrets that we keep to ourselves. Once we are finally able to reveal them to our friends it is reassuring that they are there for you, and that they might be going through the same experiences as well. Martha grows as she is able to express herself more and more, and we have that in common.
What has been your greatest challenge in portraying Martha? What has helped you overcome these challenges?
Entering the “dark secret” world is extremely difficult for me. You have to put yourself in such a sad place and situation but it is overcome by realizing that you have your friends to share your feelings with and that they love you. Having such a supportive and great cast really helps each of us to enter this story and be able to come back to reality knowing everything is alright.
What is it about Sater and Sheik’s score that most moves you?
The lyrics are so beautiful. “Blue Wind” is my favorite song, because the lyrics are so moving and just absolutely brilliant. The lyrics, “Blue Wind gets so sad blowing through the thick corn through the bales of hay” and “Sure when it’s autumn wind always wants to creep up and haunt you” are so moving.
Is there any particular moment or number in the show in which you feel you’re most able to express your inner feelings?
I think “Totally Fucked” lets out all your inner anger for everything in life. Simply singing “Blah Blah Blah” is actually quite a relief! Emily added a piece of choreography in which we all find our own space on stage just to show the audience how frustrated our character is with the world, and it helps to express those feelings.
How do you interpret Emily Zickler’s vision for the show, and how has she helped you to develop and mold your performance?
Emily’s vision really helps us share the story with the audience and share how these characters deal with so many feelings. She has really helped me embrace how to feel every emotion of the character with my entire self. Emily has so much training and her exercises have helped us all grow as actors and performers.
What have you learned about yourself as an actor throughout this process?
I have learned that I can do a lot more than I thought I could as an actor. I did not realize how much I needed to trust myself entering such dark places and then switching back to reality. It is a challenge, but I am glad I can do it.
How do you think audiences can relate to the characters onstage?
I think everyone will be able to relate to at least one of the characters on stage. Adults and teenagers can equally relate to the characters in the story because adults were going through these same experiences once too. I think the story is timeless in that the teenagers of our world are growing so much and going through finding themselves and so many new experiences, and that is what happens in this story.
What message do you want audiences to take home with them after seeing Spring Awakening at KAT?
It is okay to express yourself to the world and to each other. You should always be able to talk to someone. You SHOULD talk to your teenagers. You should be able to help them and let them trust you.
Spring Awakening plays from February 21-March 15, 2014 at Kensington Arts Theatre performing at Kensington Town Hall/Town Center (formerly the Armory)-3710 Mitchell Street, in Kensington, MD. For tickets, purchase them at the door, or online.
New Whisperings: Meet KAT’s Director and Cast of ‘Spring Awakening’: Part 1: Joanna Frezzo (Ilse).
New Whisperings: Meet KAT’s Director and Cast of ‘Spring Awakening’: Part 2: Catherine Callahan (Martha).
New Whisperings: Meet KAT’s Director and Cast of ‘Spring Awakening’: Part 4: Harrison Smith (Moritz).