In Part 3 of a series of interviews with the Director and cast of Spooky Action Theater’s Jarry Inside Out, meet actress Carla Briscoe.
Why did you want to become a member of the cast of Jarry Inside Out?
Jarry Inside Out is a really ambitious and demanding play on the page… and fantastical in many respects. I was curious to see how it would translate to the stage. I like theater that takes risks…that challenges the performers and the audience alike I wanted to be a part of that.
Who do you play in the show and how do you relate to them?
I play three characters: Rachilde (which is loosely based on the historical Rachilde and her actual relationship with Jarry), Ma Ubu (a very heightened and grotesque character, extracted from Jarry’s plays), and the Christian Astrologer (a character who appears in a play within the play). With respect to how I relate to them… That’s a bit more complicated. Rachilde is powerful and manipulative…Ma Ubu is greedy and base… and The Christian Astrologer is a visionary. There are wildly different characters, and yet there’s something that threads them together… they are each powerful influencers in their own right…it’s a question of what each of them taps into in order to exert a measure of control. I suppose, for me, in my life…I tap into my imagination, my creativity… that’s where I find my sense of power and control… Not necessarily over others, but in relation to the way I define myself.
What is the play about from the point of view of your character?
Difficult question.The play takes place in the mind of Jarry in the moments the moments after his death. Every character is a manifestation of his memory and/or imagining. So, ultimately, Jarry’s point of view overrides my characters’ perspectives and informs them. The characters are, for example, like the people who populate our dreams…they are representational of the dreamer… sometimes literal…and sometimes abstract…but a product of the dreamer.
What do you admire most about your character and what do you not admire about him?
I admire Rachilde. Historically, she was a woman who was decidedly ahead of her time…a fearless iconoclast who ushered countless writers of renown into the spotlight and pushed a number of boundaries with her own writing as well. However, within the context of the play, she demonstrates a selfishness which is less than flattering.
What did you learn about the Playwright Richard Henrich after you were cast in the show that you didn’t know before you were cast?
I learned he’d been working on this play since the 1970s. Which is remarkable. This production must be extremely important to him. I’m deeply flattered that he and Catherine would want me to be a part of it.
What advice and suggestions did Director Catherine Tripp give you that helped you prepare for your role? Have you ever worked with her before? What is her process?
Catherine said to let go of the historical aspects of the play because it all takes place within the mind of Jarry… it’s all a function of his memory and imagination. This was incredibly liberating as a performer. This play is not about naturalism, nor is it biographical in the strictest sense. It lives in the same space Jarry’s works occupied. I had never worked with Catherine before. Her process was largely exploratory and very collaborative. She trusts her performers and gives them a lot of freedom. She’s very informed about the context of the play…the socio-historical context… honors the vision of the writer…and encourages play and ensemble work. She’s pretty fearless.
What have been some of the challenges you have faced in rehearsals and/or preparing for your role?
So many challenges…The play is very physical, and there’s lots of ensemble work, so that’s been challenging in a way many plays and roles are not. And playing three characters, you want to make them each physically and audibly distinctive. So that was a challenge as well. Beyond that, the material demands a degree of fearlessness and creativity from everyone involved.
What character is so much like you and why?
I can honestly say I’m unlike every character I play. I can relate to them, but I’m in no way like any of them. I’m pretty shy and unassuming in my real life… and these characters are the antithesis of that.
What line or lines that someone else says are your favorites?
“Paradise exists. We can create it and at the last moment leap into it, if we dare. Dreams are imaginary solutions. Imaginary solutions are unbound.”
What themes and issues does the play address that current audiences will be able to relate to?
I think the play examines the ever current question of the role art plays in society and, by extension, the role artists play.
What are you doing next on the stage after Jarry Inside Out?
I’ll be doing David Adam Gill’s play Experimenting with Katz, which we’re still workshopping, and my brother Adrian and I are talking about collaborating on a feature. He’s a tremendously gifted filmmaker.
What do you want audiences to take with them after watching Jarry Inside Out?
I’d like for them to leave curious to learn still more about Jarry and the movements he influenced: Absurdism, Dadaism, and Symbolism. I’d like for them to have experienced something unlike anything they’ve experienced before.
Jarry Inside Out plays through June 21, 2015 at Spooky Action Theater, performing at Universalist National Memorial Church – 1810 16th Street NW, in Washington, DC. Tickets can be purchased at the door or online.
Robert Michael Oliver reviews ‘Jarry Inside Out’ on DCMetroTheaterArts.
Meet the Director and Cast of Spooky Action Theater’s ‘Jarry Inside Out’: Part 1: Ian LeValley.
Meet the Director and Cast of Spooky Action Theater’s ‘Jarry Inside Out’: Part 2: Catherine Tripp.