In Part 4 of a series of interviews with the cast of Avant Bard’s production of TAME., meet Madeline Burrows.
Joel: Where have local audiences seen you perform recently on stage?
Madeline: Most recently in Antony and Cleopatra with Brave Spirits Theatre. I’ve also recently worked with Taffety Punk, PG County Shakespeare in the Parks, Source Festival, Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, and Single Carrot Theatre.
Why did you want to be part of the cast of TAME.?
I fell in love with the script right away. Jonelle’s writing creates such a rich atmosphere and personalities that jump right off the page. For me as a queer woman, it’s incredibly refreshing to work on a script where young women’s and queer women’s lives are at the center of the story, and where women get to be messy, complicated, angry, vulnerable. The women in this play are not sidekicks to men. We don’t get to see that nearly enough onstage.
Who do you play in the show? How do you relate to her?
I play Bea, Cat’s 17-year-old younger sister and the baby of the family. She’s a huge romantic and dreamer who has a pretty rosy outlook on the world at the start of the play. I was way more of a “Cat” as a kid. I refused to fit into society’s expectations of what it meant to be a girl. My earliest memories are of throwing tantrums when my parents tried to get me to wear dresses to church. Finally they gave in and let me wear my backwards baseball hat and overalls and read Junie B. Jones books in the pews. Praise.
What’s the show about from the point of view of your character?
Growing up and figuring out your place in an unfair world.
Playwright Jonelle Walker wrote TAME. in response to Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. For you as a performer, what do you especially like about her play and your role in it?
It’s still rare in 2016 to see a play or film that dives so honestly into the lives of young women. The voices and experiences of queer women are silenced in most histories of the U.S., to the point where it’s easy to think “these people didn’t exist in 1960,” which isn’t true. I think this play is about self-determination for women and queer people, and it humanizes and gives voice to women whose voices have been erased from our understanding of American history. It’s the kind of risk-taking, unapologetic storytelling that I hope becomes more of the norm.
TAME. is set in the 1960s—a time before the sexual revolution, the Women’s Movement, Stonewall, and other dramatic social changes. What does the play have to say to audiences today?
We’re about to have a president who is an open misogynist, racist, and sexual predator and a vice president who believes in “conversion therapy” for queer people. Both want to repeal Roe v. Wade. I think it’s an urgent time for us as artists to tell our stories and fight back. We cannot be silent. We have to take inspiration from the movements that came before us. We have to unapologetically and courageously speak the truth. I think that’s at the core of this play.
What is your favorite line or lines that your character says, and what is your favorite line that someone else says in the show?
Anytime Bea uses the word nasty. And my favorite someone else says is Patrick’s line to Cat: “I knew a dog like you once.”
What are you doing next on the stage?
Hooded: Or Being Black for Dummies, opening in January at Mosaic Theater Company. It’s another world premiere by a D.C. playwright (Tearrance Arvelle Chisholm). There’s so much brave new work being created and developed in D.C. right now and I’m really thrilled to be a part of it.
What do you want audiences to take with them after seeing TAME.?
I hope this play starts conversation and debates. I hope it inspires young female theater artists in the audience to write more of our stories.
TAME. plays through December 11, 2016, at Avant Bard performing at Gunston 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 ‘TAME.’ Part 1: John Strange by Joel Markowitz.
Meet the Cast of Avant Bard’s ‘TAME.’ Part 2: Brendan Edward Kennedy by Joel Markowitz.
Meet the Cast of Avant Bard’s ‘TAME.’ Part 3: Jill Tighe by Joel Markowitz.