Saturday, May 23, 2015

Spotlight On...Joyce Miller

Name: Joyce Miller

Hometown: Philadelphia, PA

Education: Settlement Music School from age 3-17. I studied classical piano and that taught me a lot about creative discipline. PA Governors School of the Arts. NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, where I trained at the Atlantic Theater Company Acting School plus a semester at Stonestreet Film and Television Studio. Williamstown Theater Festival Apprentice Program

Favorite Credits: Elizabeth Proctor in The Crucible directed by Kristi Gunther; Elizabeth Morden in Our Country's Good & various ensemble roles in Caucasian Chalk Circle, both directed by Anya Saffir; Antony in Julius Caesar directed by Brendan McCall; Naomi in Naomi in the Living Room directed by Anna Kerrigan; An evangelist in Hellhouse directed by Alex Timbers

Why theater?: I was applying to visual arts and theater schools at the end of high school, but the application process is so intensive that you can't physically go to the acting school auditions and the in person visual arts portfolio reviews in the same year, I found out. I tend to love working long hours alone in a studio. I thought theater would be more against my nature because I can be shy and depressive. The ensemble nature challenges my ego, ability to listen and communicate, as well as cultivate independent thinking, trust, and honesty in a group setting.

Tell us about The Upper Room: The Upper Room is about a handful of people on a remote island called Maco who live practically and productively, with as little consumerism as possible. They grow their own food, they live "outside of money", to quote the play, they follow a spiritual and biblical element of prayer, while being individual truth seekers. The audience encounters them at a point when environmental pressures and personal loss overwhelm the group into a state of disorder, exposing and intensifying key personal differences. Some consider leaving, some seek relief in irrational devotion, and everyone questions each other and themselves. Ultimately, they must put aside their humanness in the face of a greater, unanticipated change. All woven into an incredible musical landscape with song and dance!

What do you do in The Upper Room?: I play Philipa Nearing, who leads the group along with sisters Marta (Dana Kaplan-Angle) and Hannah (Catherine Brookman). Hannah has gone missing right at the beginning of the play, when Philipa and Marta find her shoes washed up on the shore. From there, Philipa struggles to hold things together and finds herself losing touch with the group, most painfully when her sister Marta develops a romance with ambiguous new recruit named Albert (Robert Lavenstein).

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I dream of theater that is urgent, affordable, cathartic, widely accessible . Theater that finds innovative venues and business models in order to reach audiences and be created by artists who represent real communities, and not just make a product. I admire the writing of Martin McDonagh and Sarah Kane. John Leguizamo. Edgar Oliver, who Jeremy turned me on to. I love Working with Anya Saffir. I love working with Rady&Bloom because they establish a from scratch aesthetic that takes courage, and they cast more unconventional actors for their individual traits as artists and work from there. Jeremy valued odd traits I have as an artist before I recognized them as being positive. I feel most inspired by the artists I am surrounded by personally and watching them have breakthroughs and achieve their goals because of their own courage is one of the biggest inspirations.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Townes Van Zandt

What show have you recommended to your friends?: I was inspired by Brickman Brando Bubble Boom at Under the Radar this year. Also I'm Gonna Pray for you So Hard at Atlantic recently.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: "24/7 Facebook Lurk: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Creep" ideally John Leguizamo would play me, if he still has an interest in coming-of-age stories.

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: The first fart joke ever told by a cave-person.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: The Internet. All of it. I read a lot of Yahoo Message Boards about other peoples lives and problems. I also watch Make-Up Tutorials and super cheesy lifestyle vlogs on youtube. And, I am into wierd twitter. I like to tweet about my love of root vegetables.

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: I have always wanted to play the fiddle.

What’s up next?: Directing, writing, and producing a short film with my friend. I am actually pretty multi-hyphenate. I sometimes write internet satire on McSweeney's and am working on a novel but sometimes I get nervous about that "jack-of-all-trades" stereotype.

For more on Joyce, visit and follow her on Twitter @joyfulmilton