Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Spotlight On...Cori Hundt

Name: Cori Hundt

Hometown: Warren, NJ

Education: Middlebury College

Select Credits: Vanya, Hecuba, Voices of the Class, The Good Woman of Setzuan, Lovesong of the Electric Bear, The Europeans, Uncommon Women and Others, The Vagina Monologues, Severed Headshots and The 24-Hour Play Festival (Middlebury College); The Arsonists and The Relapse (British American Drama Academy). Williamstown Theater Festival

Why theatre? Why not? Okay just kidding, but really, I'm a firm believer that if you have the opportunity to do so, you should always do what you love. Have a back-up plan of course, but do what you have a passion for and see where it leads. While this is an almost disgustingly cliche thing to say, I sometimes wonder how different the world would be if people were not afraid to whole-heartedly pursue what they love. If it doesn't work out, then it doesn't work out, but you should always give it a try first. As for the art of theatre itself, I believe in the power of words and the amazing way in which they can be combined with live performance to connect with another human being. The feeling you get when that happens is utterly addicting to me. I started by acting in school plays when I was little and, well, just never stopped.

Tell us About Territories: The Spoils: Territories is the umbrella title of a double billing of The Spoils and A Light Gathering of Dust written by British playwright Steven Dykes. I am in the first play of the double billing, The Spoils, which is based on the Ba'ath Party in Iraq in which Saddam Hussein emerged as a leader, eventually pushing the head of the party (Ahmad Hasan al-Bakr) aside and ruling the Iraq government until it was taken down by the US in 2003. Dykes has abstracted the Ba'ath Party in this work creating a play that revolves around four secretaries from this political party who are imprisoned, interviewed and attempted to be "rehabilitated" by an interpreter. The interpreter belongs to the party that has taken over the Ba'ath Party and is on a quest to use a new and "more humane" type of rehabilitation based on the folk music of the captured party which ends up falling at odds with the prisoners. What I really like about the play is that it is not about sending a message, but rather raising questions, there is no clear answer as to which side is right or wrong. It is also abstracted so that it is not an in-your-face metaphor for certain situations in today's politics.

What is it like to be a part of Territories: The Spoils?: Working on Territories has proven to be an invaluable experience at this point in my life. PTP/NYC (the theatre company the show is a part of) serves as a wonderful transition from college theatre to the professional acting world and is truly unique in that it is one of the only theatre companies associated with a small liberal arts schools in the country that performs in NYC and fills the non-equity company entirely from current students or recent alumni. I started the process during our January Term at Middlebury where I served as dramaturg for both shows and acted in the stage reading of The Spoils. I was then cast in The Spoils for the summer season in New York. Having the opportunity to work with both equity actors in addition to my fellow peers who I have gotten to know very well over the years, has been an amazingly helpful and educational experience. Additionally, since the playwright himself is acting in another show that is in rep with the company (Howard Barker's Victory), having him as a resource throughout the process is truly a insightful experience.

What kind of theater speaks to you?: I really enjoy a wide range of theatre because I'm a firm believer that different types of theatre serve different purposes, none of which are necessarily more or less important than another. For a senior seminar I took in college we had to write a "Theatre Manifesto" in order to outline our personal artistic aesthetic and I entitled mine "Theatre of Purpose", because to me it's the passion and truth behind a piece that is important, not about pigeon holing myself to a specific type of theatre. I enjoy a good drama just as much as a good comedy and whether a show be about social awareness, entertainment or, dare I say, religious glorification, if the talent and passion behind a piece is there then I am open to it.

What or who inspires you as an artist?:
This is a tough question. I have a classic case of "liberal arts syndrome" where although acting is my first love and what I want to do with my life, I also enjoy other things like literature, writing, traveling and athletics and honestly feel that being a good actor requires knowing what is going on around you in the world and having that feed your work. After all acting is imitating life, so I find that inspiration really lies everywhere.

What are your favorite audition pieces?: I've been working on a few new audition pieces of late. Roxanne from Theresa Rebeck's The Understudy, Nadia from Elizabeth Merriweather's I Bought a Bunker Bitch: A Bad Break Up and Sonya from Chekhov's Uncle Vanya.

Any role you’re dying to play?: One day I would absolutely love to play Vivian Bearing in Margaret Edson's W;t. However, I have to wait a good 30 years to be the right age for the part...

What show have you recommended to your friends?: When I was studying in London in the Fall of 2009 I saw a show at a tiny black box theatre called The Gate Theatre and it was a modern adaptation of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya entitled Vanya by Sam Holcroft. At first I was wary of an adaptation of something from the Chekhov cannon but I quickly fell in love with the show and brought it back to Middlebury. I ended up working on it as my senior thesis work alongside my peers Michael Kessler and Mindy Marquis. It's not running in the states and has only been performed here twice that I know of (at Middlebury and Vassar) but I would completely recommend it!

What’s up next?: Besides working on Territories: The Spoils a group of other Midd Alums (mainly from the PTP/NYC company) and I are going to be having a showcase at the Atlantic Stage 2 on July 19th & 20th at 4pm. Also, on July 25th I'm going to be part of a reading of a new play entitled Brakeman's Light also at the Atlantic Stage 2. And then after all that finishes, I'm moving to NYC! Right now I'm subletting a place with another PTP/NYC actor until the run is over but afterwards I'm planning on moving permanently into the city with a friend of mine who I studied with at the British American Drama Academy and doing the New York actor deal. Eventually I'm planning to go to grad school for an MFA in acting but I want to get my feet wet in the professional acting world first.

For more information on Cori, visit her website and her blog!