Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Spotlight On...Lily Narbonne

Name: Lily Narbonne

Hometown: Lancaster, Massachusetts

Education: Boston University School of Theatre, BFA Acting

Select Credits: Ken Ludwig's The Three Muskateers (Constance Bonacieux, Hudson Valley Shakespeare), Two Noble Kinsmen (Emilia, Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival); Callie, the best friend, in "OH, Liza" Webseries  premiering March 13th. Sister Fanny, the second of three polygamist mormon sister wives in Missionary In Manhattan: A Mormon Musical (Theatre for the New City's Dream Up Festival, Ukulele Orchestra of Great Brooklyn Site, specific, one-person-walk-through HOTELPROJECT NYC (The Internationalists).

Why theater?: I do theatre because it's an ancient art form intrinsic to our need as human beings to understand and have compassion for ourselves, foster community within society and investigate our purpose on earth. Whether I'm acting or watching theatre, and not necessarily on a stage…wink wink Pool Play…I feel like I am in my place of worship. A place to appreciate and learn from the beauty of human imperfection. There are pure connections happening between people. Everyone has their cell phone off and is sharing in the same moment. That's epic! Timeless! My values growing up, my values developed at BU, and the love in my heart are too close to this reality for me to not make a life in this art form.

Tell us about Pool Play: Pool Play is a joyous theatrical experience tackling America's complicated relationship with water, and specifically the culture of the swimming pool, without falling short of song and synchronized swimming routines that jog peoples' associations with entertainment in water. We watched a lot of Esther Williams youtube videos. Before I auditioned I listened to "Nightswimming" by REM about fifty times chuckling with bliss, for the summer memories it evoked. But seriously, we also investigate how individuals interact with water, their anxiety around getting close to naked in front of their peers at a young age. Sometimes it's traumatizing. For others swimming's a safe space or an escape…that being said, we also incorporate profound poetry about how water in its elemental, transformative character, if we appreciate it, can enlighten us.

What is it like being a part of Pool Play?: It's freeing being a part of pool play. It's empowering to devise a piece with our brilliant playwright Jessie Bear, our fearless director Erin Mee and our experienced, dedicated cast. I like having input or at least participating in conversations about the overarching artistic purpose of a piece when I'm acting in something. The stakes and commitment required as an actor with a site-specific piece are as high as a Shakespeare play. I'm using my training in endurance and my abilities as an athletic actor and a singer. So it's all-encompassing, honestly; it's taken a lot of mental, emotional and physical commitment so far and that's how I like it.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: Raw theatre, with fully physically and vocally engaged actors speaks to me. When I close my eyes at a play, or even in rehearsal, to see if I can aurally take in the story, and I'm still able to get the sense of what's going on and emotionally engage, I know I'm in the right place. I'm really conscious of this kind of clarity in my own work of late. It's what I was trained to do, and I think it's the basics of the true craft of acting, that will always help me in theatre, and in film, and TV when I get there. I saw Bedlam Theatre's Hamlet and did this in the first act, and it made me grin, for I was "hearing a play" like they said in Shakespeare's time. Every actor was playing multiple characters, and they were wearing clothes that looked like their own street clothes, so they had no choice but to use their pure tools, voice and body. Go see it! That's not to say I don't appreciate when the technical aspects of a production bring a dramatic event and its world to life to suspend disbelief. I saw Glass Menagerie on Broadway with Cherry Jones and Zachary Quinto yesterday and I was so grateful to witness how much that production honored Tennessee Williams' gentle descriptions, a memory play is so fragile and so are his characters. The play wouldn't have had the tender affect on me that a memory play is intended to have if it weren't for the floating set, on a thin bed of water, laden with star-like lights that would illuminate in magical moments. Playwright Annie Baker inspires me as an artist. The Flick, Aliens and Circle Mirror Transformation make me want to try my hand at playwriting, not to mention make me want to continue having the courage to be myself in my acting craft. Her Uncle Vanya adaptation produced at Soho Rep, directed by Sam Gold in August of 2012 propels me as an actor because of how intimate it and simple it allowed the actors to be, and this worked for the overall production because the audience was sitting in the round, on their bums on carpeted risers. Joni Mitchell has for years inspired me as an artist, she inspired my mom, who I inherited my voice from. Joni's audacity to write lyrics and melodies that articulate the complicated, vulnerable feelings in her heart is a choice, she sacrificed for it, and I admire that. Righting songs is what I'm most afraid to do. Maria Dizzia inspires me as a dramatic stage actor, from the two productions I've seen her in she always gets right to the conflict and is actively engaged in a struggle. Julianne Moore and Meryl Streep inspire me. I want to be transformative like them.

Any roles you’re dying to play?: I'm dying to play Jeannie or Sheila in the musical Hair, Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing, painter Mary Cassatt in some capacity, Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra, Emilia in an un-cut version of Two Noble Kinsmen, Yelena and Sonia in Uncle Vanya, Ruth in Beyond the Horizon, and Dagney Taggart in Atlas Shrugged. Also, I'm dying to act in Spanish, ideally in a Spanish Speaking Country or after traveling and studying there…

Who would play you in a movie and what would it be called?: I think Amy Adams would play me in the film about my life...but after seeing "Her" I think Scarlet Johansen's voice would have to be in there somewhere. The movie might be called “Play It By Ear” ???!?! That's a toughie!

What’s your favorite showtune?: My favorite showtune----“The Hill”, Once. “I Dreamed a Dream”, Les Miserables.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: I'd love to work with Annie Baker and Sam Gold. I'd love to work with Juliet Rylance and Austin Pendleton. I'd like to be directed by David O. Russell. I'd love to act with Eddie Redmayne, Dierdre O'Connell, and my voice and speech professor from BU, Paula Langton.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: I've recommended Once, The Flick, Belville at NYTW, The Mentor Projects new works at the Cherry Lane, and Bedlam Theatre's Hamlet to friends in the past year.

What’s the most played song on your iTunes?:
Most played songs on my iTunes are “2 Atoms in a Molecule” by Noah and the Whale and “People's Parties “by Joni Mitchell. But I haven't listened to that iTunes library in a couple years. This summer, most played songs were “Bette Davis Eyes” by Kim Carnes and “Africa” by Toto. 80's kick much? Lately it's “Nightswimming” by REM and “Love is Won’ by Lia Ices.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: My biggest guilty pleasure is watching and re-watching "Grey's Anatomy", yes, partly because I'd like to play a doctor…And cookies.

What's up next?: Singing with The Brett Ferguson Band, Tuesday February 25th at Rockwood Musical Hall. I'm almost finished getting trained by the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival to be a Teaching Artist in Tri-State Area high schools to teach students how to act Shakespeare in March/April. Otherwise, I'm auditioning, piecing ideas for my own writing--hopefully a play, and one song at least--and researching grad schools for acting. It's a nice challenge to make friends with the unknown.

For more on Pool Play, visit