Gayle Carney has played a myriad of roles in her many years as an actress. She’s been seen most recently in The Dog Must Die at Highwood Theater in Silver Spring, Maryland. That play is a dystopian piece written by prolific, young playwright Madison Middleton, and it is also one of a number of such futuristic pieces that have hit DC-area stages this year, including Scena Theatre’s 1984.
Carney’s latest play, The Promised Land, is yet another dystopian tale. It centers around the ravages on Earth due to climate change and a society that is falling apart because of it. Carney’s character in the play, Ester, must face a land in which there is pestilence, flooding, and wildfires. Carney was gracious enough to answer a few questions about The Promised Land for DCMTA.
William Powell: What about The Promised Land interested you?
Gayle: It is a story that provides a warning as to how bad things can end if we don’t believe and take some action on the changes we are seeing as they relate to the changing of the climate. This story allows me to help draw attention to a very serious matter that is taking place with our environment. This play speaks to me in terms of bringing awareness to a very important issue as well as a call to action.
What is The Promised Land about?
Climate change has ripped society apart. Wildfires burn, uncontested oceans drown cities, and pestilence spreads from coast to coast. Abraham, the leader of a small farming community, holds back the end of the world along with Ester, his beloved wife (who I play) who is the leader of the secret police. They race against the clock to find a future for their fields and the people living in their community.
This is your second Off-Broadway show. How is the acting business different in NYC as opposed to the DC-area?
My first experience with Off-Broadway was a one-evening showcase that lent itself to me performing scenes from several plays. The Promised Land will be my first full-length play, and it has a longer run. I think one of the biggest differences between the acting business in NYC and the DC-area is the sheer volume of actors in NYC competing for various roles. It seems like everyone in NYC is an actor. Also, I believe there are more theaters in NYC where actors have an opportunity to earn equity points.
Name an actor who inspires you.
Viola Davis—she is such a powerful actor. She has a strong theater background prior to going into film.
What advice would you go back and give to yourself when you were starting in the acting business?
Don’t doubt myself, keep doing the work to enhance my acting skills and my breakthrough will come.
What have been some of your most challenging roles?
Bessie Delaney, a 100-plus-year-old woman, maintaining the physicality for two hours, while preparing food, setting the table, and discussing various social, political, and religious issues with one other actor.
If you had to advertise The Promised Land on a billboard, what would you write?
A call to action! What will you do to help save our world, The Promised Land?
What’s your personal motto?
Living My Dream!
As I respond to this question, I’m currently not committed to a show, but I am open to going to where the work leads me. In short, I will continue to audition in hopes of nailing my next job soon.