This is the third in a series of interviews with the cast of Spooky Action Theater’s Last of the Whyos. In Part Three: Meet Tia Shearer.
Roberta: Why did you want to become a member of the cast of Last of the Whyos?
Tia: I do a lot of children’s theatre, which is so close to my heart, but I was excited by the opportunity to go to a darker place with my work. Also, I am a rather naturally bouncy person – any chance to ground myself and put my physical impulses onto text is a challenge I am trying to be open to at this stage in my career. And then, everything informs everything else. I can take what I learn here and perhaps it can make me even more specific in my more physical work, be it for children or adults.
I play the Hot Corn Girl in the first scene and Ada Ann in the rest of the play. Both are trying to take charge of a life that they are ultimately not in charge of. I personally feel like a pretty independent person, and I feel like I have “made” a life for myself. But then I remember all the twists and turns in my path that I did not conjure or expect, and I wonder how much of our lives can we actually create? I do not feel trapped in my life. Except – like all of us, if we are being honest – when I suddenly do.
What is the play about from the point of view of your characters?
Escape. Escape from something, for the Hot Corn Girl, and escape to something, for Ada Ann.
What do you admire most about your characters and what do you not admire about them?
I admire the ways in which they are brave, but do not admire the ways in which they (Ada Ann especially) then use bravery as a mask. I believe you should stand up for yourself in this world, and you should be active in your life and surroundings. But I also believe in a brave heart – an emotional honesty that these women don’t really have but could perhaps have cultivated in better circumstances.
What did you learn about the Playwright Barbara Weichmann after you were cast in the show that you didn’t know before you were cast?
Barbara, Rebecca, and Randy (Randolph Curtis Rand, who plays Sweeney) have been friends for years. It’s really nice to see friends continue to collaborate and nurture each other’s artistic contributions. I look forward to doing the same with my own friends in the theatre world.
What advice and suggestions did Director Rebecca Holderness give you that helped you prepare for your role? You have been working with Rebecca many times now. What is her style of directing and her process?
She told all of us early on that we were going to have to be comfortable with not-knowing. I loved that. It immediately gave us permission to be seekers in the room and on the stage, and to be alive and present in our scenes (because maybe, for a while at least, we do not know any more than our characters do).
What have been some of the challenges you have faced in rehearsals and/or preparing for your role?
Well, despite being excited to go to these “dark places” (questions of power, testing your own limits, a boldness in sexuality), I am still scared every day to play in this world. My life is so very different from Ada Ann’s – I have so many forms of family in my life, and I feel very connected to a specific place and specific career – and yet, if I am able to bring her to life, it is because all of her struggles and strengths and weaknesses are in me in some way. That is thrilling and horrifying.
What are you doing next on the stage after Last of the Whyos closes?
I will actually be on the other side of things for a bit! Developing a new piece of theatre for ages 0-2 for Arts on the Horizon, and doing Audience Design for Flying V Theatre and The Hub Theatre!
Last of the Whyos plays from February 5-March 1, 2015 at Spooky Action Theater performing at the Universalist National Memorial Church at the corner of 16th and S Streets, in Washington, DC. For tickets, purchase them online.
Meet the Cast and Director of Spooky Action Theater’s ‘Last of the Whyos’: Part One: Meet Randolph Curtis Rand by Roberta Alves.
Meet the Cast and Director of Spooky Action Theater’s ‘Last of the Whyos’: Part Two: Meet Michael Kevin Darnall by Roberta Alves.