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TMT Lab Artist Interview: Stephanie Weeks

Stephanie Weeks Regional Credits: Salima in RUINED,Florida Studio Theatre. Charmian in Antony & Cleopatra Dir. Craig Baldwin at the Stonington Opera House, Me, Belle in A Christmas Carol, Actors Theater of Louisville. Beth in A Christmas Carol, American Conservatory Theater. Off-Broadway: Long White Beard in As Yet Thou Art Young and Rash and Socrates in Dinner Party Dir. David Herskovits (Target Margin Theater) Shark #2 in Oh My God I’m So Thirsty(Y) Dir. Michael Levinton (Little Lord) 2011 Innovative Theater nomination. Frieda in All Hands Dir. Alec Duffy (Hoi Polloi)
Film: “Confessionsofa Ex-Doofus Itchy Footed Mutha” Dir. Melvin Van Peebles (Tribeca Film Festival). Training: MFA: American Conservatory Theater.

TMT: Tell us about yourself. Where are you from and a little bit about the journey from young shikska to Lead Artist of After Midnight.

SW: I am a New York Native. Born and raised in the Bronx. The Journey…Hmm. Well…. I am Actor. I went to Grad School in San Francisco and came back to New York and one of the first company’s to hire me as an actor was Target Margin. I did As Yet Thou Art Young And Rash which, to this day, is still one of the best things I think I’ve ever done and one of the pieces I cherish the most. I’ve done other plays/workshops with David and a number of Labs over the years always as an actor. The arts as with everything have such an ebb and flow to them and in last two years or so I felt that I was in the definite deep deep ebb of it. I was no longer excited by acting and I was kinda over it. I was on my way out of the “Biz” to be honest. A Director, Alec Duffy of Hoi Polloi asked me to do his show called All Hands and I said yes… Thinking to myself, this would be the last acting job I’ll do. I can’t say enough great things about being in that show and it was such a great experience for me that it really kind of rejuvenated me in a way in all things creative. I’ve never really thought of myself or seen myself as a Director or Lead Artist. In the late Spring early Summer of this year, John Del Gaudio… Asked me if I was interested in directing a lab. I thought Really? Me? huh… I’ve never thought of being a leader in this way. I directed years ago in college and thought, I just don’t think it’s for me. But then I thought…. Hmmm. I’ve been thinking about ways for me to expand myself creatively and to grow and I thought this might be a way… Still Journeying thou.

TMT: When it comes to Yiddish Theatre we’re all beginners. So when Lab Curator John Del Gaudio told you we were devoting our Lab Series (and our entire season) to it what was your first reaction? Had you had any exposure to Yiddish theatre in the past? Any preconceived notions?

SW: Again… I think it was Hmmm. “Okay that’s what it is…. I don’t know a thing about it…I’m in.” I am always interested in challenging what I think is possible and what others think is possible for me and I thought what better opportunity than with a subject I know nothing about. I didn’t really know a thing about it or have any preconceived notions. I didn’t even really know that something like this form existed until earlier this summer when David was workshopping some plays.

TMT: After Midnight is similar to other (but not all) Yiddish plays in that it elevates shtetl life and openly criticizes the lives of the Jewish that move into the city favoring wealth over piousness. Can you describe a little of the play for us and what drew you to it.

SW: The way I’ve been describing the play to people when they ask is. It’s what happens when Earthly Spirits and a House come out after midnight and observe the ways of Man. Simple right? I was drawn to it because there was nothing overtly “Yiddish” about it. That is to say it could be a tale or a story told in Christian or Muslim traditions as well as Jewish. So I didn’t immediately feel like I was missing some sort of experience to connect to or be with it. If that makes any sense. It felt universal. I was also drawn to it because I have always been drawn to fantasy, fairy-tales, etc especially on stage. I think as an audience when it is something “Other” we allow ourselves to go one step further in our suspension of disbelief and I love that. The title of the play is After Midnight, A Fantasy and that already excited me… Then I read Spirits and I thought, yep, this for me.

TMT: What instantly makes After Midnight unique is its rejection of naturalism—the play’s central characters are forest Spirits—and its use of symbolist poetry. Was this familiar theatrical territory for you? Anything striking, modern, or relevant you weren’t expecting?

SW: I think it was sort of familiar. I mean It is a heightened altered reality and to me all plays are like that… This is just more so because we are dealing with something a little more unknown and a little more magical. A lot of things struck me about this play but the thing that struck me the most or what is really relevant for me is the idea that all of the characters outside of Wind and the House in the play are not quite satisfied with where they are.There is always some place else they would rather be. Either in the Past or in the Future or in the town or away from it. I feel that that specific energy is very pervasive in our culture today. I am curious as to where this energy comes from and am fascinated by it. It’s an energy that scares me and it’s something I have definitely struggled/wrestled with and deal with on a day to day basis. Not being in the moment. For me, I’ve found that being in a space of living in the present moment and gratitude for the exact moment I’m in, is where I’ve found the most flow in my life, in the ebb and flow of it all.

TMT: Lastly, if you could be one of the forest Spirits of the play which one would it be and why?

SW:The Wind, without a doubt! To quote the text, “Oh, I fly here and there, see everything and hold my own counsel” no explanation needed I think! The truth is, I think we all have that kind of power now. Some of us are better than using it than others. Each day I get better at using mine.

After Midnight runs in a Double Bill with Cripples at The Brick Nov 1st – Nov 3rd at 7:30pm.

Tickets available HERE

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