In Part one of a series of interviews with the cast of Adventure Theatre MTC’s The Emperor’s Nightingale meet Nadine Rousseau.
Joel: Please introduce yourself and tell our readers where they may have seen you perform on our local stages.
Nadine: My name is Nadine Rousseau and The Emperor’s Nightingale marks my professional debut. Previously, I’ve performed with the Arlington Players and the Mason Players. DC theatregoers may also be familiar with my work at Signature Theatre…where I used to work in the box office!
Why did you want to become a member of the cast of The Emperor’s Nightingale? What moved you the most when you read the script?
I wanted to be part of a production in which I could embrace my Asian cultural heritage. I’m very grateful to Adventure Theatre MTC for mounting this show. It represents their commitment to diversity and inclusion.
Damon Chua’s script has an inspiring mix of urgency and hope. Reading the play for the first time, I was inspired by its passion for responsible, kind governance.
Who do you play in the show and how do you relate to your character?
I play the part of Nightingale, a magical bird who gathers news across the kingdom. Though I enjoy reading about history and current events, I fall short when it comes to her obsession for keeping up with the news. She wants desperately to help the downtrodden when she sees their circumstances. She has a strong sense of morality, but is a complete softy at heart. I can certainly relate to that overwhelming empathy and idealism. Like her, I desire to make a positive impact on others. Sometimes it’s hard to believe you can make a difference when so much suffering exists in the world. But you keep fighting for goodness in spite of the overwhelm.
What personal experiences did you bring with you that helped you prepare for your role?
Birds move with both grace and precision. My background in dance helped form the movement quality of my character.
What lessons can young theatregoers and their parents learn while watching this show?
We all have the capacity to help others. The process of relieving burdens begins with listening.
Director Natsu Onoda Power is known for creating stunning visuals in her work. Tell me about how the visuals tell the story and what impresses you most about the look and design of the show?
The show includes many projections for the purposes of scenery, symbolism, and storytelling. I’m impressed by Natsu’s direction that lets us build and interact with the visuals as our characters. Hana Kim’s projection design is absolutely beautiful to share the stage with.
How would you describe Natsu’s style of direction and how has she helped you to mold and enrich your performance?
Natsu’s style of direction is very playful and collaborative. She nurtured the performance out of me by providing insight and choreographic elements to support my choices.
What is your favorite costume of Deb Kim Sivigny’s that you are wearing in the show and what is your favorite that someone else is wearing and why?
I’m jealous of the panda costumes. I’d love a pillow belly!
How would you describe Stella Choi’s choreography and what were some of the challenges you have had learning it?
Stella Choi’s movement looks effortless, but what seems effortless is actually quite particular. The challenge in learning some of the sequences was my unfamiliarity with Chinese dance. I wanted to get the specific technique right.
Have you ever played Pong Hau K’i before you got involved in the production, and now that you have had new experience, how would you rate yourself (from 1-5) as a player?
2-fair but nothing to brag about.
4-damn good-I challenge you to play with me!
5-Where can I try out for the Pong Hau K’i Olympics?
I had not. I’m at level 1, for sure.
What do you want audiences to take with them after seeing The Emperor’s Nightingale?
I really just hope they enjoy the show! If they find themselves motivated to take action against forms of injustice – be they great or small – that would be icing on the cake.
Running Time: 55 minutes, with no intermission.
The Emperor’s Nightingale plays through May 30, 2016 at Adventure Theatre MTC – 7300 MacArthur Boulevard, in Glen Echo, MD. For tickets, call the box office at (301) 634-2270, or purchase them online.
Kendall Mostafavi’s review of The Emperor’s Nightingale on DCMetroTheaterArts.
Meet the Cast of Adventure Theatre MTC’s ‘The Emperor’s Nightingale’: Part 1: Nadine Rousseau.
Meet the Cast of Adventure Theatre MTC’s ‘The Emperor’s Nightingale’: Part 2: Sue Jin Song.