Saturday, August 15, 2015

Spotlight On...Sophia Lana Cohen Smith

Name: Sophia Lana Cohen Smith

Hometown: Port Jefferson, NY

Education: B.F.A. Candidate at The New School for Drama, concentration in Directing

Favorite Credits: A Bone Close to My Brain by Dan Dietz; Stability by Natalie Bialostozky; and the first workshop of O' Save Us, St. Sophia at ACCESS Theater.

Why theater?: I do theatre because it's so fearsomely and awesomely alive. There's something exhilarating about working on a show for weeks, months, sometimes years - and then letting it go. You get to watch your work affect and be effected by the audience and the larger world around it. Things change, and that's rad. The characters and stories get to live and breathe and grow just like the actors who carry them.

Tell us about O’ Save Us, St. Sophia: It’s a play that takes a platonic relationship seriously. The friendship between Sophia and Gregg isn't complimentary to a larger, romantic story, or the story of one person's individual journey. The friendship is the journey - the catalyst for and resolution to a man's schizophrenic break. It's about deciding if love necessitates responsibility in a friendship.

What inspired you to direct O’ Save Us, St. Sophia?: When Mikey submitted the beginnings of what would become O' Save Us, St. Sophia, I immediately resonated with the sort of hybrid genre he was wrestling with. There were highly realistic characters telling a highly realistic story, in an extraordinary world and by unorthodox means. What director wouldn't want to dig into that? Also, as I mentioned earlier, I was very attracted to the idea that I could tell a story with friendship and all its complexities as the central focus.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I really loved naturalism when I was younger. I tore through Strindberg and Chekhov like my friends tore through Teen Vogue while I was in high school. Now I much prefer theatre that begins with a naturalistic or realistic premise, and then begins to crack the foundation and bend the rules of the genre - like Vogel's How I Learned to Drive. I'm inspired by any show, good or bad, that I can't stop thinking about after I see it.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: I would love to work with Eve Ensler! Her work, both as an artist and an activist, is amazing.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: I recently saw an amazing regional production of The Flick by Annie Baker.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Lea Michele! But Sophia Grace would have to play me as a child. It would be called something like "Please Use All Four Names: The Sophia Lana Cohen Smith Story" or something similarly disgustingly pretentious.

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: My dad and I share a deep love for Neil Simon. If I had a time machine, my father and I would go right to 1983 for Brighton Beach Memoirs.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: I'm addicted to makeup vlogs! I could watch them for hours.

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: A historian! Haha, I guess I really go for the financially stable and lucrative careers. But really, I'd have a blast working at a museum - I'd still get to be storytelling, after all.

What’s up next?: I just began speaking to the music director of a musical I hope to really begin work on after O' Save Us, St. Sophia goes up. It's the kind of project I'm yet to tackle, and I can't wait!