Meet the Cast of ‘Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown’ at American University: Meet Sarah Yoney

In our series of interviews with the director and cast of American University’s Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, meet cast member Sarah Yoney.

Sarah Yoney.

Sarah Yoney.

Joel: Introduce yourself to our readers and tell them what other shows you have appeared in and some of the roles you have played.

Sarah: My name is Sarah Yoney and I am currently a sophomore at AU. I was incredibly blessed my freshman year and was cast in two DPA productions first semester. I played Zoe Zebra in Steamystery and was then cast as Coulmier’s daughter in Marat/Sade. Some previous credits include, Anne Frank in The Diary of Anne Frank, Little Red in Into the Woods, and Bombalurina in CATS.

Why did you want to be in Women on the Verge… at AU? What did you sing at your audition?

I had Carl Menninger as an acting professor throughout my freshman year. I couldn’t help but view him as a mentor after experiencing the process. He had helped me grow as an actor and as a human being and challenged me in ways that I truly didn’t imagine he would. I was very curious to be a part of his production because I wanted to witness how he differed as a director vs. a professor. In addition to this, I was interested in being a part of a production that I knew nothing about. Women On The Verge… seemed like a show I wouldn’t normally be cast in and I wanted to try something different. I wanted to push myself. For my audition I read a side from the show and I sang “Somewhere That’s Green” from Little Shop of Horrors.

Had you seen the show on Broadway, and if yes, what did you like the most about it and what did you not like about it? Why do you think it only ran for 69 performances?

I did not see the show on Broadway. However, the production ran at Lincoln Center, which was probably a reason why it didn’t receive much publicity. Lincoln Center is rather detached from the Broadway scene and if the production team wasn’t incredibly dedicated to advertising, then that could definitely be a reason why tickets didn’t sell.

What does Women on the Verge… have to say to your generation of theatregoers?

Women on the Verge… transcends just theatregoers and that’s what makes it unique. The message that has the greatest impact on me is, “Sometimes you think you’re praying for one thing…” How applicable is this quote to everyday life! I truly believe that everything happens for a reason and I have learned through rather difficult circumstances that sometimes what we crave or what we’re searching for, isn’t necessarily what we need.

Who do you play in Women on the Verge… and how do you relate to her? 

I play Ivan’s Concierge as well as various other ensemble members in Women On The Verge. Although it’s taken me a long time to relate to, develop, and understand this character, I have realized that we do in fact have something in common. Although I’m not exactly blunt, or pessimistic, I do have a negative connotation with love as I believe my character does. She’s clearly been scarred and has emotional damage from a past lover. She now looks at love in a realistic way and doesn’t fall for the fantasy. I also am not a believer in the romantic fantasy of falling in love. I’m not so sure it exists.

What do you admire about your character and what do you not admire?

I admire my character’s ability to say exactly what is on her mind. She is completely free of her inhibitions. However, this is also something I don’t admire. I don’t believe in purposely hurting or offending people.

What have been the challenges you have encountered while preparing for your role and how have you overcome these challenges? How did your director, Carl Menninger, help you to overcome these challenges?

The most difficult part of this process has been finding and developing my character and battling my self doubt. I enjoy receiving criticism and direction from the director because I live for improving. However, in an effort to please the director, I consequently lost my character and myself. I was asked to change the direction of my character about three times and started believing that I was completely inadequate as an actor. I lost my confidence and I started questioning my role in the theatre. I also couldn’t get myself to speak up and talk to Carl about this. I let it fester until it boiled. I’m so incredibly lucky to have Carl Menninger in my life. We had a truly special conversation that helped me realize that I’m standing in my own way. He helped me put my insecurities aside and overall made me feel better.

What is your solo in the show and what do we learn about your character when you sing it?

I don’t sing any solos, but I have a scene with Pepa at the beginning of the show. The audience learns that my character is a mouthy broad, who has been burned by love.

What have you learned about yourself – the actor and singer- during this whole process?

I’ve learned that fear and self doubt are the strongest forces that are holding me back.

How do you describe the David Yazbek score you get to sing?

Although I don’t sing much of the score, I enjoy what I do get to sing and I have fun listening to the other actors sing their parts.

The women of ‘Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.’ From left to right: Linda Bard, Kendra McNulty, Izzy Smelkinson, Kendall Helblig, and  Nia Calloway.' Photo by Murugi Thande.

The women of ‘Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.’ From left to right: Linda Bard, Kendra McNulty, Izzy Smelkinson, Kendall Helblig, and Nia Calloway.’ Photo by Murugi Thande.

What is your favorite song that you are not performing and why? What is your favorite scene in the show and why?

I really enjoy “Invisible.” Linda Bard makes me feel the emotion in that song every time she sings it and the story behind the song is hauntingly beautiful. My favorite scene is Pepa’s realization that she doesn’t need Ivan at the end of the play. Her blindness and neediness has always been something that has frustrated me throughout the show, but I’ve realized that it’s the journey that holds the true meaning.

What do you want audiences to take with them after watching you perform in Women on the Verge…?

I want the audience to feel inspired and to feel as though they have experienced a personal journey or awakening. To me, that is the truest most beautiful part of theatre.

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown plays through October 25, 2014 at American University’s The Harold and Sylvia Greenberg Theatre – 4200 Wisconsin Avenue, in Washington DC. For tickets, call the box office at (202) 885-2587, or purchase them online.

Performance Dates:
October 24-25, 2014 at 8 PM and October 25, 2014 at 2 PM. 

LINKS
Read Douglas Lloyd’s review of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown on DCMetroTheaterArts.

Meet the Director and Cast of American University’s ‘Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown’: Meet Director Carl Menninger.

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