Monday, September 15, 2014

Spotlight On...Nicole Kontolefa

Name: Nicole Kontolefa

Hometown: New Yawk, New Yawk (Lower East Side to be most precise)

Education: High School of Performing Arts (Laguardia) and Moscow Art Theater School conservatory (BFA)

Select Credits: Katherine in Taming of the Shrew in School, Catherine in Proof at Princeton Summer Theater, so many roles in Dostoevsky, Chekhov, Ostrovsky, Gogol, etc. But my favorite places to play have been at The Chekhov International Theater Festival, Baryshnikov Arts Center and of course the New Stage of The Moscow Art Theater itself.

Why theater?: Because it is happening in the present. There is so much going on at any one moment - you have the work of the writer, director, designers even musicians and actors all coming together to put ideas, feelings and experience into your head. And yet, in an instant it could all disappear. That’s cool.

Tell us about I Am Me: It’s a play I loved from the first read. I wasn’t sure if it was a play though. And I wasn’t sure I had the guts to do a one person play. I almost staged it with a director once, but schedules interfered. And also, I wasn’t sure I wanted to give up the vision that was growing in my own mind of what this play should be like. I decided to play it outdoors because I would be able to move and because it woul dbe free. It turned out to be exactly what the play needs. I Am Me explores the relationship we have with ourselves and the outside world. By playing it in the streets I hope that the audience will actually experience this - they are both audience and performer. They are not in a dark room paying attention to one fixed person or story - they are very much living in the world of the play. Also, it turns the play from a one person show into an ensemble performance!

What is it like being a part of I Am Me?: It is interesting. One of the things I love about theater is the collaborative nature of it. In this play I Am all alone until the moment the audience arrives. They are my collaborators. So sometimes it is quite lonely. Especially when I am on tour. But I also think that is part of the play’s story and an important part of experiencing life. Although it is uncomfortable I try to treasure the time I have alone leading up to a performance.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I like theater with big gestures, very human emotions. Paradoxes - a person doing the opposite of what they might want or should be doing. I love immersive theater, inventive and imaginative theater built with interesting processes. I am less and less interested in seeing plays where people behave very naturally.

Any roles you’re dying to play?: Lady M. Broad comedy. I can’t wait to play bawdy older women! It’s kind of who I really am.

What’s your favorite showtune?: Anything from Cabaret.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Marina Abramovic.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Kristen Wiig “Girls Just Wanna East Pork Buns”

What show have you recommended to your friends?: The Record by 600 Highway Men

What’s the most played song on your iTunes?: Iggy Azalea “Work” It really is!

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Getting pickled.

What’s up next?: I’ve got a recurring role on a new web series called "The Loft". I get to play a wildly different Casting Director every episode. Accents, wigs, hilarity. Very different from being simply, Me.