Ok, I admit the “red-head” line is not the most original way to start an interview, but I’m not fishing for a bloggie award and Jody is not fishing for a Tony… yet. She is a New York based actress and also a writer for New York Theatre Review (an annually published collection of plays and essays launched in 2005, that recently launched their own theatre blog), in her interview she talks about lesbian pulp novels, shark tattoos and why producing your own work is a good thing.
How did you end up involved in TRYING?
JC- I started working with Erin Browne a few years ago at Sticky (put on by Blue Box Productions) at the Bowery Poetry Club. Erin writes these surprisingly dimensional roles for women in their 20′s and has over (I think) 20 plays. Erin’s work makes me laugh and then totally annihilates me. I like that it can do both. We did a reading of Trying in my living room 2 years ago to keep working together and developing our own sensibilities as artists. Then last year when it won the BBC World Service Award for Radio plays we thought, ok, here’s a story that seems to be resonating with people, it needs a production, let’s just produce it ourselves. Erin’s had some productions in London and workshops in the US but Trying will be her first full production here. So we found a space (The Bushwick Starr) and some incredible people to come along for the ride.
What is the show about?
JC- So much. It’s a story about first love, poverty, growing up, about people hurting other people without even trying and ultimately hope. It’s also pretty cool that it’s a girl-girl love story that references early lesbian pulp novels.
Sounds like your character is the one that whisks away the damsel in distress. Am I right?
JC- Sort of yes, but sort of no. I play this community college student/ book dork who is moving on to a “real school” who falls in love with a girl in my town (Lena, played by Rachael Hip-Flores) who really likes to read and is pretty smart and is a hotel maid who is supporting herself and her pregnant 21 year old sister Chels (Maria Helan). Their parents are gone, the father of the baby is in jail, all they have is each other, so even the suggestion of education, of hoping for a better life seems like a necessity and at the same time an impossibility. The choice for Lena becomes, either leave with me, go to school and better your life in one way at the expense of your family, or stay in town lose your love and keep working, support the family etc..
What is the most compelling characteristic of Belle?
JC- Belle is hugely open hearted, vulnerable and strong. She’s open about being gay and confident about loving Lena. She’s good at asking for what she wants and doesn’t really see any reason why she can’t have it, which can also be bad too.
Does your character fall in love with that of Lena?
JC- Absolutely, hopelessly, even when it hurts like fucking hell.
What can you say about your co-stars? I promise I’ll keep it to myself.
JC- You can tell anyone: Rachael Hip Flores is an amazing kisser. I would never cross Maria Helan. She’s super fierce. They are such wonderful women to be working with, I am really so fortunate.
What’s the best thing about working with Lou Moreno?
JC- His shark tattoo. I asked him once what it was about and he said something about sharks not being able to breathe unless they are constantly moving, which is why they are always swimming around. Lou is like that, he keeps us on our toes, coming at things from different directions. He asks us to be present and vital, there’s no forcing in the process, lots of discussion with the entire cast, with Erin. He’s a very good listener and question asker.
If you could change anything about this experience, what would it be?
JC- We would have more time to run the show. Right now we have a limited run with 5 performances at the Starr and 2 upstate with Pulse Performing Arts Center through Salt Box Theater, which we are so lucky to be able to do, don’t get me wrong. I’d love to be able to go to high schools with this play all over the country. I think it could really speak to young women.
~~~TRYING by Erin Browne
With Jody Christopherson, Rachael Hip- Flores and Maria Helan
Directed by Lou Moreno
Associate Producers Robyn Pottorf and Ana Valle
Set design by Arnulfo Maldonado, lights by Derek Wright, costumes by Antonia Ford Roberts and sound design by Colin Whitely.
April 15 & 16 at 8pm; April 17 at 2pm & 8pm; and a final performance April 18 at 2pm
The Bushwick Starr (207 Starr Street, Brooklyn, NY)
Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/94891
or by calling 917-975-4864