Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Spotlight On...Tracy Weller

Name: Tracy Weller

Hometown: Cambridge MA

Education: Hamilton College, BA, Columbia University, MFA

Select Credits: Jarring, Holiday House, Most Sincerely, Edward Albee, Heist, A Christmas Carol: A New Musical, The House of Bernarda Alba, Twelfth Night, etc.

Why theater?: Creation is the best way to respond to destruction – and in 2018 we all know a thing or two about destruction.  My awareness of mortality and the brevity of life compels me to stretch every millisecond and molecule to find the truest expression of the human experience. Without theatre, I am tormented by everything left unexpressed, unspoken.  When I think of the stories that slip through the cracks and the increasing lack of intimacy and human connection, my heart races and I feel sick.  Creative expression is an imperative, a matter of survival. 

Who do you play in Consumption?: I play Elena Hoyos, a 1950s sitcom actress whose marriage is on the rocks, a cop in tragic love with her partner, an occasionally stoned volleyball-playing teenager, and a cruise ship psychic.

Tell us about Consumption?: The show is inspired by the true story of Elena Hoyos and Carl Von Cosel, which goes something like this: a German immigrant, masquerading as both a doctor and count, falls in love with a married dying girl while working in a tuberculosis sanitarium. She dies, he exhumes her body and lives with it in various stages of decomposition and marital bliss for nearly a decade.  BUT, their story is just the launchpad for a bigger exploration of love, traveling through time and space, sickness and health.

What is it like being a part of Consumption?: It’s a bit of a whirling dervish.  Very intense, very joyful in all its truth and morbidity.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?:  My inspiration to make my own theatre comes more from artists working in other artistic mediums: “outsider” artist Henry Darger (an incredible artist and an incredible story), Dare Wright (writer, photographer and creator of The Lonely Doll series), expressionist painters like Munch and Schiele, the work of my own father (who is a brilliant painter), the choreography of Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Twyla Tharp, composers such as Bernstein, Bartok, Bach, Satie, Prokofiev, and jazz musicians/performers Nina Simone, Art Blakey, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Errol Garner, Thelonious Monk.  But the real, pure drive comes from the wonder of just observing humanity – the people we see every day, who are struggling, carrying secrets, grappling with dreams, and simply trying to survive.  All the untold stories locked away in the souls of the forgotten, overlooked and disregarded – that’s inspiration.

Any roles you’re dying to play?: Though my work of late has been very much of my own creation, I do have a huge hunger to play anything by Tennessee Williams (I need to play Blanche before I die), Chekhov and Ibsen. 

What’s your favorite showtune?:  “One Hand, One Heart” from West Side Story.  It seems absurd to call a song this serious and deep a showtune, but I guess it is.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: A puppet.  I love puppets.  They have a humanity that humans often lack. 

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: It would be a stop motion movie made by my kids with whatever they could scrap together.  I would be played by a bunch of clay, yarn and paper clips and it would be called "No More Weird Plays, Please!' I really can’t answer this question.  Maybe Gena Rowland – so long as she is willing to work with clay, yarn, paper clips and my kids.  Maybe I can’t answer this question because my work is the deepest of expression of who I am.  A movie about “me” just doesn’t quite compute.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: I recommend anything by Target Margin Theatre, Phantom Limb or anything produced at The Bushwick Starr, but , with two children and my own work, I honestly don’t have much time to see theatre.

What’s the most played song on your iTunes?:  I don’t really listen to iTunes, I play records or CDs or dusty old tape cassettes – so I generally listen to albums not just individual songs.  As a family, we listen to Revolver, Rubber Soul and Abbey Road a lot.  One song, when I’m alone: Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne, as sung by Nina Simone.  It’s a beautiful aching, fascinating piece of poetry.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Dessert in bed.  Every damn night.  But I don’t actually feel guilty about it. 

What’s up next?: Hart Island – a piece I have been working on for a long time, inspired by NYC’s potter’s field.  Also: The Mason Holdings Radio Hour – stay tuned.

For more on Consumption, visit