Saturday, November 3, 2018

Spotlight On...Marlena Holman

Name: Marlena Holman

Hometown: Tucson, Arizona

Education: BFA in Drama from NYU Tisch

Select Credits: Plucker (Company of Fools), Macbeth (No Name Collective), The Possibilities (dir. Tim Carroll) and Danni in the Gageing Noel series

Why theater?: Live theatre performances require the actor to emotionally bungee jump every single night. I love working in that atmosphere of extreme courage.

Who do you play in Mary Stuart?: I play Lord Burghley. Some may call him a misogynistic, infantile villain, but I would never pass that kind of judgement on my character. I think he's a loyal, passionate man who is simply trying to keep his country safe and prosperous. And he's a little misogynistic.

Tell us about Mary Stuart: Oof. Okay. Big ask. Here's the Spark Notes version: Mary Stuart became Queen of Scotland when she was six days old. She got married three times in a few different countries basically to gain power. When she fled to England, she was imprisoned for 19 years because she had become the focus of various plots to overthrow her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I. This was especially delicious because Mary Stuart was Catholic, and Queen Elizabeth was Protestant (her father had created the Church of England). Our play begins after Mary Stuart has been imprisoned for decades and has recently been found guilty of plotting to kill Queen Elizabeth and filch her throne. The next two hours are full of Mary trying to prove her innocence, Queen Elizabeth not being able to make up her fickle mind about whether or not to kill Mary off, and a whole mess of other characters plotting some sneaky stuff. Oh and we dance the Volta somewhere in there, too.

What is it like being a part of Mary Stuart?: Mary Stuart is one of those plays that young actors in University programs wish to one day perform. And here I am getting to do it, with an incredibly powerful all female cast. As far as the process goes, one of the notes our director gave those of us playing male characters was to observe the men in our world and all the traits they are allowed to exhibit in public that women cannot without being discredited (such as rage, directness, petulance) and to layer that on to our characters instead of showing we are men by huffing up our shoulders and deepening our voices. It has been a wild ride taking in how easily men can assert themselves, and I must say, it is awesome to have the permission to emotionally and physically manspread every night.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I appreciate creative lighting designs and elaborate costumes and boy do I love a good revelation of space, but at the end of the day, really specific, truthful acting is what will haunt me (in the best way), and I guess that's what I want when I see theatre…to leave a little bit haunted.

Any roles you’re dying to play?: Stevie in The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?

What’s your favorite showtune?: Oh man, I'm actually not so much of a shuffle ball change kind of girl. I don't know any!

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: I'd act in something with Kathleen Turner, directed by Ivo Van Hove.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Steve Buscemi, definitely. The movie would be called Sitting in Bars Drinking Beer. It would be a silent film, where he sits at bars in 60 different countries, drinking the local beer (because this is, fun fact, something I have done). 

What show have you recommended to your friends?: I recently saw The Lifespan of a Fact and I really appreciated the acting and the timeliness of the show. I also love everything out of BAM's Next Wave Festival.

What’s the most played song on your iTunes?: I'm actually really into quietly devastating music because haha crippling social anxiety. My most played is Þau Hafa Sloppið Undan Þunga Myrkursins by Olafur Arnalds.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Eating Hawaiian pizza in my bed while watching home renovation shows. Yeah, I said Hawaiian pizza. Don't @ me.

What’s up next?: I'll be in Twelfth Night with No Name Collective going up at The Alchemical in December.  Mary Stuart runs November 7 – 11 at Pushkin Hall on the Upper West Side. More info can be found at