In Part 1 of a series of interviews with the cast of Avant Bard’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, meet Annalisa Dias.
Joel: Where have local audiences seen you perform recently on the stage?
This is actually the first traditional full production that I’ve worked on as a performer in the DC area. I’ve done a number of single performances of new devised work in the past year, including performing original work at The Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage with The Women of Welders 2.0 and performing as part of Synetic’s Dark Night Showcase. Last year I worked with banished? productions as a performance devisor for Tyger, which had a short run at the Mead Theatre Lab.
Why did you want to be part of the cast of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Avant Bard?
I was interested in working with this creative team. Randy and Deb are good friends of mine, but I’d never collaborated with them on a project before, so that opportunity was exciting to me. What’s better than making art with your friends?
Who do you play in the show? How do you relate to them?
Francis Flute and Cobweb. I actually relate quite a lot with both characters. We’ve sort of been joking about calling her “Feminist Flute.” She’s turned into a bit of a fighter who gets cast as the stereotypical woman in the mechanical show at the end of the play, and she’s not happy about it. Cobweb, I think, is also something of Flute’s shadow; she’s a… non-traditional fairy. She may or may not carry a spear.
What’s the show about from the point of view of your characters?
I’ve been thinking a lot about a sense of belonging and personal identity. The questions I think this version of the play brings up revolve around social codes and expectations. Who’s part of the group? What role(s) do we play in social groupings? When do our roles become brittle, and how do we break free from them if necessary?
Director Randy Baker has reimagined the show with shadow puppets and a percussion orchestra. For you as a performer, what’s new and different about it, and what are you enjoying about it?
I love shadow work. I’ve had limited experience with it in the past, but I find that there is something so viscerally human about telling stories made of shadows. Right? I mean, go all the way back to Plato and the Allegory of the Cave. Shadow play speaks to fundamental questions of human existence. What is the world we inhabit? What forces are at work in our lives that influence our perception of who we are? What other realities might there be?
What is your favorite line or lines that your character says, and what is your favorite line that someone else says in the show?
Flute: “What is This be? a wandering knight?”
Quince: “Gentles, perchance you wonder at this show;
But wonder on, till truth make all things plain.”
What are you doing next on the stage?
I’ll be performing a solo-play called Servant of the Wind at the Atlas Intersections Festival on February 26 and 27, 2016. It involves storytelling styles from India and the United States, and is at once a retelling of the Ramayana and an investigation of trauma and healing.
After that I’m writing, producing, and performing in One Word More, a reimagining of The Tempest, focusing on Sycorax’s untold story and the historical erasure of women’s voices. That will open April 8 at the Mead Theatre Lab at Flashpoint.
What do you want audiences to take with them after seeing A Midsummer Night’s Dream?
I hope audiences might leave with some sense of wonder or awe at the world we live in and its capacity for what you might call magic.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream plays from January 14 to February 7, 2016, at WSC Avant Bard performing at Guston Arts Center, Theatre Two – 2700 South Lang Street, in Arlington, VA. For tickets, call the box office at (703) 418-4808, or purchase them online.
Meet the Cast of Avant Bard’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’: Part 1: Annalisa Dias.
Meet the Cast of Avant Bard’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’: Part 2: Jon Jon Johnson.
Meet the Cast of Avant Bard’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’: Part 3: Zach Brewster-Geisz.
Meet the Cast of Avant Bard’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ Part 4: Linda Bard.