Tuesday, February 14, 2017
Spotlight On...Ella Smith
Hometown: Wayzata, Minnesota
Education: BFA from NYU/Tisch School of the Arts
Select Credits: Silvia in Shakesperience Production’s The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Luciana in their production of The Comedy of Errors. I had the time of my life playing Philaminte in Moliere’s The Learned Ladies. Recently I’ve been working on a production called How We G.L.O.W which takes interviews from LGBT youth and brings them to the stage as documentary theatre.
Why theater?: As a child who was kicked out of gymnastics for talking too much, theater became my haven and a place where I was encouraged to let out my crazies rather than stifle them. As I grew up, I continued to discover who I was within the welcoming and creative community of theater artists. I continue to devote my life to this art form because of the power I found in the theater to understand who I am, and to help others understand their own existence. Furthermore, I believe every piece of theater is a political act, and we need that now more than ever. Once a week I work with inmates at Rikers Island Correctional Facility teaching theatre classes. It is extraordinary to watch these men come to class with ever expanding gusto and incredible fearlessness. They continue to remind me to bring bravery to all my work, and to use acting and theater to raise my voice in a political culture that is so determined to mute it.
Who do you play in The Bride?: I play Hero!
Tell us about The Bride: The Bride is a weaving together of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing and Love’s Labors Lost. Some scholars believe that Much Ado About Nothing is also called Love’s Labors Won. A war takes place at the end of Love’s Labors, and a war has just finished at the beginning of Much Ado. We’ve set these two plays back to back, although some of the scenes are their own invention. Nat Angstrom is the creator of the script and he did a terrific job melding these two plays into one delightful and thought provoking new piece. I can’t wait to share it with people!
What’s it like being a part of The Bride: The Bride is made up of an excellent ensemble of actors and musicians. I am thrilled with the music that we’ve created as a cast and with the playfulness in which all the actors, and our director Doug Durlacher, bring to each rehearsal.
What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I dig comedy! Comedy provides a special space in which to speak uncomfortable truths. I love watching theater that has me laughing my butt off, and which leaves me with some new ideas to ponder. I want to be part of politically engaging work that entertains as well as stimulates.
Any roles I’m dying to play: Currently my favorite play is Detroit by Lisa D’Amour. I want to play Sharon with all my heart! I also would like to play any character that Annie Baker writes, ever.
What’s your favorite howtune: I’ve been bit by the Hamilton bug…as we all have. I love to put on “Dear Theodosia” and weep my eyes out. I can also rap every word to “My Shot”, a fact that I’m very proud of.
If you can work with someone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Julia Louise Dreyfus is my FAVORITE! I admire her incredible comedic chops and worship her work in “VEEP.” I would love an opportunity to play a role on the show and work alongside her.
Who would play you in a movie and what would it be called?: A movie about me would be called “Girl with the Bad Jokes” and who better to play any role than Meryl. Obviously.
If you can go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: It would be pretty fantastic to see the original production of A Doll’s House and to witness the reactions audiences had. Also I would love to be a groundling at Shakespeare’s first performance of Romeo and Juliet.
What shows do you recommend to your friends?: "VEEP" and "Transparent"! "Transparent" is magical and delicious.
What’s your biggest guilty pleasure: BEN AND JERRYS. (I’m vegan and they FINALLY came out with non-dairy options which are JUST AS GOOD. GET ON THAT TRAIN!) omg, going to buy some right now.
What’s up next?: I just shot a short film that I wrote and starred in called “Period.” My wonderfully talented friend Maddie Mahoney directed it. Can’t wait to edit it, share it, and get going on the next project! Create art, not walls.
For more on Ella, visit ellanicolesmith.com. For more on The Bride, visit http://www.bottomsdream.org/