20% Theatre Company is thrilled to present Rapture, Blister, Burn by Gina Gionfriddo at the Minneapolis Theatre Garage April 26 – May 10, 2014. Here is your chance to learn a little bit about the artists involved in this production. Stay tuned for more interviews from our designers and director. Before we open the show, hear from our last actor, Rachel Finch!
Can you tell us a little but about yourself and your background? How/when/why did you get into theatre?
I got cast in a play in second grade. The Brave Little Tailor. It was all downhill from there. 🙂 Kidding. I got into it in High School. That was where I fit in. I made the decision to major in Theater Performance at Viterbo University, and I’ve been enjoying the TC theater scene ever since.
Tell us a little about the character you will be playing in Rapture, Blister, Burn.
Avery is so much fun to play – she’s got a LOT of attitude, and says exactly what she thinks. Other people might see her as rude, but she’s just really, really honest, and she misses nothing. Like it or not, you are going to get the truth from this girl. She’s still figuring out what she wants, and really is in a place where she has a lot of freedom, but is maybe longing for some of the security that comes with a steady relationship. Learning that she doesn’t actually have all the answers throws her for a loop towards the end of the show, and we see her grapple with that too.
In what ways do you personally relate to this character?
I’m definitely in a place in my life where some of the big choices (family, marriage, career) are on my mind a lot. Even though she’s a lot younger than I am, Avery still has all those options in front of her too, and is deciding what path to take. And like Avery, I’m kinda fuzzy on what it would mean to call myself a “feminist” in 2014.
What is exciting about your character? What are some of the challenges that you, as an actor, are facing in portraying this character?
Her honesty and humor are my favorite things. You always know where you stand. The challenge for me here is playing someone who is so intelligent, but also really young. Avery struggles with things that aren’t clear cut, like the How-To’s of successfully navigating a long distance relationship with her boyfriend.
Rapture, Blister, Burn is often called “a feminist play”. How would you describe the play? How do you feel about feminism and what it signifies today?
This is a really hard question because there is SO MUCH in this script to talk about. I keep telling Anya that the talk-backs are going to be 4 hours long. Feminism is really personal – even in rehearsals, its hard to explain how you feel about it without referencing your own life experience. Our careers, our relationships, family life – these are the things we use to define our value. So it is really personal, and people get really defensive over labels like “Just a Housewife” or “Lonely Career Woman” and with good reason, because this is who we are. This show asks those hard questions about what should you pursue, and what will you give up to get it?
How do you personally balance the expectations of being female in our society with the concepts of feminism in your daily life?
I think being a “feminist” has a looser definition than it has had in the past. I love being a woman, think one of the best things is about it is claiming that right to choose your own path and not apologize for it. I get tripped up, however, over the Miley Cyruses of the world. Is that feminism, because its her choice to dress in skimpy clothes and twerk her ass off? Or is she simply creating a cheap image of women as sex objects to get media attention? There are arguments on both sides. The other aspect of feminism that I see is really body-focused. Fat-shaming, Skinny-shaming, Dove Ads versus Victoria’s Secret models: what is the image of a “real” woman? There’s a lot of conflict over this as well. Randy said this in rehearsal and I think it kinda sums it up: you see a female celebrity on the cover of People Magazine with an article about an unflattering photo of themselves in a bathing suit. In the article, they all say “This is my body and I’m proud of it!”…. and then they lose 20 pounds. We’re torn between wanting to embrace our bodies as they are, and also wanting to fit society’s standards of beauty. We’re a work in progress.
What else do you do in the world, outside of theatre and/or working on this production?
I work in Human Resources at Twin Cities Public Television. I’m a novice runner, and starting to train for the Women Rock 1/2 Marathon in August.
Favorite restaurant to eat out at in the Twin Cities?
Salut Bar American. Fabulous wine, and really good beef. When I want a hamburger or steak, this is where I go.
How did you get to Minneapolis? (Where did you grow up? Where are you from?)
I grew up in Blaine, and while I still go there to visit my parents, I never want to live in a suburb again. I’m a city girl, and I have an apartment on Grand Avenue in St. Paul. I’ve lived in London and New Zealand as well.
Do you have any pets?
I have a tuxedo cat named Groucho, and I am absolutely smitten with him. I was always a dog person, and now I’m one of those women with a picture of her cat on her desk at work. How did this happen?