Monday, October 5, 2015
Spotlight On...Brandi Varnell
Hometown: Tulsa, OK
Education: New School University
Select Credits: Sylvia, 9 to 5, Kiss Me Kate, Evita, 3 Penny Opera, Staged Readings at The Drilling Company, Abingdon, Dramatist Guild.
Why theater?: The moment to moment that unfolds in theater is so magical. It is so special to see people engage in real time in front of you, knowing that you are seeing the only instance where those exact moments exist. It is immediate and present and exhilarating.
Tell us about Squeaky Bicycle Productions: We just celebrated our 5th Anniversary, and we couldn't be more proud to kick off the season with our upcoming show. Our mission is to create vibrant theatre for vibrant audiences. We value the process of development, recognizing that collaboration offers immeasurable gifts. We seek to nurture every contributor’s artistic journey, offering a safe place to take risks and explore the depths of their talents. We commit to projects that challenge our audiences to examine and assess new institutions, values, perspectives, and ideas. We believe that under served populations deserve a voice, and that through theatre the human condition can be more genuinely explored and understood.
Tell us about Ten Ways on a Gun: It was part of our 2014 Reading Lab, and from there it has been developed into the full production running at Theatre for the New City- October 9-25. It is wickedly funny but also hits you straight through the heart. Tommy Freely buys a gun online to gain control of his life, then timeshares it with his deadbeat co-workers once his vegetarian girlfriend finds out about it. This is a play about a play about that gun. Ten Ways On A Gun is a darkly comedic and heartfelt examination of American gun culture, and an exploration of why anyone, anywhere, does what they do.
Who do you play in Ten Ways on a Gun?: I play Jessica Person. Jessica is an actor/director/co-choreographer and occasional dramaturg of a theatre and dance ensemble, Soul Motion Architects, which we get to know quite well during the play. She has a lot to figure out about life and her art and her possible impact on gun control.
What is it like being a part of Ten Ways on a Gun?: Right now it feels like that amazing roller coaster that you've waited in line for, and you can't wait to get on. You know you'll feel like your guts are in your throat at times, but you also know you won't want the ride to end. It's really so good! The cast is unreal, and working with the playwright, Dylan Lamb, and director, Kate McConnell is the stuff dreams are made of. I am beyond thankful.
What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: Daring, innovative, biting, comical, relevant, heart centered theater speaks to me. The artists who inspire me are those who have passion and who persevere. Those who face struggles and triumphs, and continue on because they feel it is their purpose. I have wonderful teachers and colleagues who embody this. I see them offering their gifts to the world. I'm getting to work with many inspiring colleagues on this show.
Any roles you’re dying to play?: I have a big list, but mostly I'd like to originate roles. I love being the first to embody a role in a new play. I would also love to play a tough as nails, calculating character on Walking Dead. We can call that character "Daryl's Future Wife."
What’s your favorite showtune?: "If Love Were All", "Stay With Me", anything Kurt Weill.
If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Bryan Cranston, Kelli O'Hara, Ed Norton, Adam Driver, Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Shumer, Stevie Wonder, and Lee Sunday Evans
Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Christine Woods (google her). She is zany in all the best ways. I think the title should be "Brambo", and I think it should be equal parts action movie, awkward comedy, and touching drama.
If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: Jekyll and Hyde starring Sebastian Bach......No wait, I did see that. He killed it. What? You can ask me questions about that in a follow-up interview. Really, though, Glass Menagerie starring Cherry Jones.
What show have you recommended to your friends?: The King and I, Pippin
What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: I like sugary kid cereal. Lucky charms, Golden Graham's, cocoa puffs, etc.
What’s up next?: Squeaky Bicycle's 2015 Reading Lab, auditions, acting class, and a family vacation involving a beach.