Leah’s Train: Gina Sauer

Travel through three generations of adventure, grief and love. Co-presented by 20% Theatre Company Twin Cities and the Sabes Jewish Community Center, we are pleased to bring you Leah’s Train by Karen Hartman March 7-22, 2015 (all performances at the JCC).  Before and during the run of this show, we will be giving you a chance to learn a little bit more about the artists involved in our production. In this first interview, meet actor Gina Sauer.

Actor: Gina Sauer

Actor: Gina Sauer

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background? How/when/why did you get into theatre?

Ever since I stepped on stage at age 6 for my first dance recital, I have been completely bitten by the performing bug.  I’ve been singing, dancing and acting ever since.

Is this your first show with 20% Theatre Twin Cities?

Yes!  I have a number of friends who are long-time fans of 20% Theatre, so I’m very excited!  Particularly because this is a theater whose mission I wholeheartedly support.

Tell us what originally drew you to the Leah’s Train script. What interested you in auditioning for this show/company?

Oddly enough, it was the title.  The phrase, “Leah’s Train” has a very particular meaning among my group of friends, though completely unrelated to this show.  I don’t believe in coincidences, so I took it as a sign from above that I should audition for this show.  And I was right.  Working on this script with this cast and production crew has been truly amazing.

We hear that you’ve been away from the theater scene for awhile. What brought you back?

I took probably the world’s longest hiatus from acting — more than 20 years.  One day about a year ago someone asked me what I was going to do now that my son was away at college and I was an empty-nester, and without thinking I blurted out, “I’m getting back into acting.”  So then I had to.  I was committed!

Tell us a little bit about the character you play?

You know the cliche…”there are no good roles for women over 40.”  Hannah is definitely an exception to that. She’s a multi-faceted character who runs the full gamut of human emotions through the course of the show.  Her mother’s death sends her into full-on, mid-life crisis mode and she goes on a journey to reconcile with her daughter and re-invent herself.

What else do you do in the world, outside of theatre and/or working on this production?

I like to call myself a “recovering lawyer.”  I work at a large law firm but I don’t practice law anymore, I’m more on the HR side of things now.  And I just finished writing a feature length screenplay, so if anyone out there knows any producers…

What is your favorite thing about the Twin Cities?

The fact that you can be downtown enjoying great restaurants and theater one minute, and then drive just thirty minutes in any direction and find yourself surrounded by cornfields and quaint little towns.  We stay true to our Midwest roots here, and it keeps us grounded.

What is your favorite type of transportation?

Like my character, I have a great affinity for European trains.  I especially like the German ones, which are famously punctual.

If you have one, tell us a little bit about your most memorable train ride?

Like a couple of characters in the show, I travelled through Europe alone on trains when I was young.  I had no itinerary, just got on and off when I felt like it.  One day I got off somewhere in Bavaria and ended up in a 1000-year old monastary with a bunch of monks who served me the best meal and home-brewed beer I’ve ever had!

 

Leah’s Train: Actor Laura Mason

Travel through three generations of adventure, grief and love. Co-presented by 20% Theatre Company Twin Cities and the Sabes Jewish Community Center, we are pleased to bring you Leah’s Train by Karen Hartman March 7-22, 2015 (all performances at theJCC).  Before and during the run of this show, we will be giving you a chance to learn a little bit more about the artists involved in our production. In this first interview, meet actor Laura Mason.

Actor: Laura Mason

Actor: Laura Mason


Laura, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background? How/when/why did you get into theatre?

I did my first community theatre show when I was seven. I don’t remember if I asked my parents if I could do it or if I was too dramatic and they decided that I needed an outlet. I just remember that it felt really natural – I did all kinds of skits and stuff in my church as a kid, so I loved being on a real stage! I did a couple shows in the community in middle school before I switched schools to a high school that had a drama program….and now I’m majoring in it!

Is this your first show with 20% Theatre Twin Cities? If not, what may we have seen you perform in in the past?

I was in If We Were Birds last September. I was in the Chorus of bird-women.

Tell us what originally drew you to the Leah’s Train script. What interested you in auditioning for this show/company?

I found out about the show because Claire asked me to consider auditioning for it. I actually wasn’t able to read the script before the audition, but I liked the premise of the story and I trust Claire! Once I did read the script though, I was very impressed with Hartman’s style and the force of the characters.

Tell us a little bit about the character you play?

I play Leah, who is a twelve-year-old Jewish girl looking for her brother and nephew. She is matriarchal force to be reckoned with in her later years, but even as a girl, she is described as “brave” and “legendary” and a “child Moses.”

How has this experience been different than the one for If We Were Birds?

There are so many things that are different that I will start with one of the only familiarities I see. Both plays contain major themes of family dynamics, specifically of how mothers relate to their children. Birds concluded that mothers have a lot more power of possession over their children than Leah’s Train, which deals more with the power of succession – the expectations of the matriarch. Hartman’s mothers set very high standards for their children and manipulate them emotionally, rather than physically as seen in BirdsNot to spoil the ending of If We Were Birds, but the children in Leah’s Train end up a lot better after the treatment from their mothers.

What else do you do in the world, outside of theatre and/or working on this production?

I am a full time student at the University of Minnesota and work at Juice So Good, which is a cafe that provides healthy options to the corporate skyway crowd. I have a lot on my plate as a double-major (Theatre Arts AND Communications) but I enjoy my classes so much, it’s almost not even fair.

Are you still studying at the University of Minnesota?  Do you have any big plans for after graduation?

I’m a Junior! Woohooo! At this point, everything is still kind of in the ether, but I’m looking at internships in Marketing or Media Production/Broadcasting and continuing to make art in Minneapolis. It would be awesome to eventually continue my education in physical theatre by studying Commedia dell’Arte and at some point I want to be a part of a legit feature length film…whatever that means.

What is your favorite type of transportation?

I like Streetcars / Light Rails / Strassenbahns. They seem really efficient to me, and they usually don’t smell as bad as underground transit, and they’re not as bumpy as buses. It’s a very satisfying form of independence to be able to rely on a streetcar to get around a city.

If you have one, tell us a little bit about your most memorable train ride?

I used to live in Vienna, Austria and the trains over there are a much more legit system than what we’ve got going on over here. The train ride that stands out to me the most was when my family took an overnight train to Venice. It wasn’t uncomfortable, but a member of my family snored the whole night so we were all cranky and had remember to love each other just as much in tiny, metal compartments as we do when we’re not invading each other’s space.

 

Leah’s Train: Meet Actor Kevin Fanshaw

Travel through three generations of adventure, grief and love. Co-presented by 20% Theatre Company Twin Cities and the Sabes Jewish Community Center, we are pleased to bring you Leah’s Train by Karen Hartman March 7-22, 2015 (all performances at the JCC).  Before and during the run of this show, we will be giving you a chance to learn a little bit more about the artists involved in our production. In this first interview, meet actor Kevin Fanshaw.

 

Actor: Kevin Fanshaw

Actor: Kevin Fanshaw

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background? How/when/why did you get into theatre?

I am 24 years old and was born and raised near Madison, WI.  I got into theatre part way through high school as a result of relentless peer pressure from my band and choir friends.  Particularly those falling into the ‘attractive-female’ category.  It is true that you can become an addict after trying something only once, and I’m hooked.  I could go on about what I’ve come to find beautiful about theatre, but what captured me from the start was the people.  Splendid, wacky, thoughtful, explosive, ridiculous people.

Is this your first show with 20% Theatre Twin Cities?

Yes

Tell us what originally drew you to the Leah’s Train script. What interested you in auditioning for this show/company?

I was initially drawn into the script by the character Ben.  I was coming off a show where half of the 10 characters I played were senior citizens, so accessing someone so immensely similar to myself was a welcome relief. I was not familiar with the history of 20% Theatre until I received a callback and did some research.  I was all the more excited about possibly working with the company after learning how devoted they were to promoting the work of women, and trans* individuals.  Last year I was living in Chicago and working for the Human Rights Campaign and I am always thrilled when two of my passions cross paths.


Tell us a little bit about the character you play?

Ben’s having a tough time. He’s just beginning to get over the loss of his mother, and coming to understand he can’t fully do that while he’s with his current girlfriend. As he emerges from mourning he’s unsure of his place in the world, who he is, and who he wants to become. The time has come, however, to find out.


What else do you do in the world, outside of theatre and/or working on this production?

I wait tables to pay the bills, and I enjoy getting paid for being kind and hospitable.  In my free time I cycle through a slew of hobbies: playing music, painting, creative writing, etc.  I also have a great desire to travel and am already looking forward to the next adventure.

What is your favorite thing about the Twin Cities?

I love all the local food and (especially) beer!

What is your favorite type of transportation?

Generally speaking, biking is the greatest way from A to B.  However, if I ever get another chance to ride on the rooftop of a bus through the Himalayan foothills… that kind of takes the cake.