In Part two of a series of interviews with the cast of Adventure Theatre MTC’s The Emperor’s Nightingale meet Su Jin Song.
Joel: Please introduce yourself and tell our readers where they may have seen you perform on our local stages.
Su: This is my 3rd time working on a full production with Natsu. The other 2 shows were Songs of the Flying Dragon at Studio Second Stage, and Yellow Face at Theater J. At Constellation Theatre, I worked on another set with projected art work on screens in a play named 36 Views – directed by another amazing local female director named Allison Stockman. I’ve also had the pleasure of acting at Woolly Mammoth and Arena Stage.
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?
Honestly, I didn’t even read the script. I just heard Natsu and Emperor’s Nightingale – and that was enough for me! Natsu is an amazing director and person. I will ALWAYS want to work with her. Always, always, always. And Hans Christian Anderson was my favorite fairy tale author growing up. I remember writing a research paper on him when I was younger. His writing is so poetic and haunting. I love his stories – simple but deep.
Who do you play in the show and how do you relate to these characters?
I play Prince Bao’s mother. She and I can both be a little bossy in life. And I also play the panda. Like the panda, I also like to eat and can be forgetful sometimes.
What personal experiences did you bring with you that helped you prepare for your roles? Did you base your performances on anyone you know-a friend or family member or someone else?
It’s my first time doing children’s theater – but I took a summer workshop on Commedia dell’arte in Italy. So I drew on that experience – very physical, strong choices and playing out to the audience. Also, just very joyous at its core.
What lessons can young theatregoers and their parents learn while watching this show?
That theater is fun and interactive. There is something so special about having bodies sharing space and energy – on stage and in the audience. And children are the best audience! Love them.
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?
I love Natsu, because she has a strong visual style – but her direction is always in support of the story. She enhances and uplifts the scripts, rather than hijacking them with her vision. The projections w/ animation are jaw dropping. Hana Sooyeon Kim did an amazing job with them – they are magical, whimsical, and gorgeous. They transport us easily to different worlds. Again, Hana has a strong visual style that perfectly supports and uplifts the story. I also freaking love the puppets. Such a privilege to watch them being built during rehearsals.
How would you describe Natsu’s style of direction and how has she helped you to mold and enrich your performances?
Natsu is so funny and sweet that she makes each rehearsal fun and joyous. That allows people to be creative, because we are working from such a happy place. She gives great suggestions and nudges us along the way, but she is really great at encouraging input from the actors. She appreciates actors who bring their own ideas to the rehearsal room.
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 love being the panda. I wear that panda costume any chance I get – during fight call and warm ups even. LOL. y costume envy is centered on the Tiger. If you see the show, you will know what I mean!! This is my second time working with Deb. She was also the costume designer for Yellow Face. Deb is an AMAZING costume designer. She designs costumes that illuminate the character while also supporting the actor’s choices in the rehearsal room. With a few pieces, she can define characters very clearly and crisply. And as an actor, I love wearing her costumes – because they are always beautiful, but comfortable – and perfectly rigged for quick changes. She is artistic AND practical – a wonderful combination that is MUCH appreciated.
How would you describe Stella Choi’s choreography and what were some of the challenges you have had learning it?
I used to think I moved well; until Stella tried to teach me some Chinese dance movements. LOL. That style just doesn’t come naturally to me at all. But I love watching it. So fluid, strong and graceful.
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?
Never played it before. I was a 1; but after Brett gave me some lessons, I am now a 2!
What do you want audiences to take with them after seeing The Emperor’s Nightingale?
I hope they walk away happy. I just want the kids to be excited and happy – and eager to see more theater!
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.