In part 1 of a series of interviews with the cast of Ovations Theatre’s Spring Awakening, meet Marjorie Long and Josie Weinberg who share the role of Ilse.
Joel: What is your name, age, high school and role in Spring Awakening?
Marjorie: I’m Marjorie Long, I’m a 17 year-old senior at Richard Montgomery High School. I’m currently playing Ilse in Spring Awakening!
Josie: I’m Josie Weinberg, I’m 16 years old, and I go to Winston Churchill High School. I play Ilse in Spring Awakening.
Tell us about your role. What do you find most challenging or interesting about playing this character?
Marjorie: Ilse is truly remarkable. She endured a traumatic past, and provides hope to the other children in the village. Her inner-strength and optimism is truly inspiring. The biggest challenge has to be breaking down her walls and exploring her vulnerable side.
Josie: Ilse is a very free-spirited and carefree individual. She is abused by her father and escapes to an artist colony where she models for the painters. Despite her dark and challenging past, she remains optimistic and spirited, which is extremely inspiring! The biggest challenge [we] came across playing Ilse is allowing the character to be vulnerable even though she fights it.
The show touches on some difficult and some dark themes such as abuse, abortion and suicide. Why is it important for teenagers to portray these issues, and why is it important for audiences to see it?
Marjorie: While they may seem taboo, all of these issues are extremely prevalent today. Spring Awakening holds the mirror up to society and starts the conversation we need to be having. By doing this, we can hopefully give hope and show people that they are not alone.
Josie: This show is incredible for touching on these subjects. It’s important for teens to portray these issue because they are so real. People don’t like to believe it, but these things are happening all around us, especially in this day and age where teenage depression and suicide is at an all-time high. Hopefully, by seeing this show audiences become less afraid to talk about these deemed “taboo” subjects, and those who struggle with issues touched on in the show no longer feel alone.
What is the most valuable thing you’ve learned from working on the production?
Marjorie: The power of knowledge, and what happens when it’s censored.
Josie: How truly powerful theater can be. It’s almost impossible not be touched by this show.
How many shows have you worked on with Ovations Founder and Artistic Director Darnell Morris? What do you like most about working with him?
Marjorie: This will be my tenth show with Darnell- he’s truly amazing!! He is constantly thinking of ways to innovate our shows and push the boundaries. I’m more in awe of his talent with each production. Aside from his directorial skill, he’s got the biggest heart of anyone I know! He cares so much about each individual actor and has created such a supportive atmosphere at Ovations Theatre.
Josie: I have been in 10 (WOW!) shows with Darnell! This will be my 11th! I love how fearless Darnell in his directing. He has amazing ideas and does not hold back at all which I really admire. At the same time, he is so supportive of his students and always makes sure we are comfortable and confident in our work!
Many of the cast members have been performing together since they were 10 years old and now are upperclassmen in high school. How does this kind of close-knit community help foster growth, both artistically and personally?
Marjorie: I’m so grateful to have an amazing family at Ovations Theatre. I’ve grown up with the most talented group of actors and the most loving group of friends. I’m constantly inspired by my fellow cast mates. They all mean so much to me!
Josie: We have all truly grown up together. Being able to see each other grow as artists and people and being able to learn from each other is so amazing and unique. We really are a family, and it’s so amazing to be surrounded by such supportive, inspiring, and kind people.
What have you learned about yourself as an actor and singer during your Spring Awakening experience?
Marjorie: I’ve learned that I can never stop growing as an actor or singer. With the help of the creative team I’m constantly discovering more about my character. This show has really helped me grow as a performer!
Josie: I have learned that this is not a role I just can coast through. It’s super complex and deserves a lot of attention and truth. I love being able to push myself in this way and discover new ways to tackle a role!
Spring Awakening plays from December 2-4, 2016, at Ovations Theatre performing at The Kreeger Theatre JCC of Greater Washington – 6125 Montrose Road, in Rockville, MD. For tickets, purchase them at the door or online.