Friday, August 19, 2011

Spotlight On...Bethany Heinrich

Name: Bethany Heinrich

Hometown: San Antonio, Texas

Education: The Juilliard School Drama Division, Class of 2010; The University of Michigan, BFA in Musical Theatre

Select Credits: The Merchant of Venice (Ensemble, The Broadhurst Theatre); The Winter's Tale (Dorcas/Hermione Understudy, The Public Theater NYSF); Big Money, Far Away, Please Stop Talking, Cold Hard Cash (Williamstown Theatre Festival Non-Equity Fellowship); The Threepenny Opera (Polly Peachum, The Juilliard School)

Why theater?: I love telling stories, and I was always someone who had a big imagination. Playing pretend and writing stories were some of my favorite activities growing up because anything was possible. I was always very shy, and in middle school I found that theatre allowed me to express myself. Somehow playing a character freed me up, and I had a lot more courage and confidence to articulate thoughts and ideas. I think that theatre is so wonderful because it really forces people to sit down, listen, and reflect upon what they are seeing. With technology developing so rapidly and information becoming so immediate, it seems that we are a culture that is losing its attention span. It is nice to have an art form that slows us down, even if it is just for a few hours.

Tell us about The Rubber Room: The play centers around six teachers who have been accused of misconduct, and as a result have been suspended and placed in the rubber room. These temporary detainment centers were notorious and controversial within the New York education system (the rubber rooms closed down in 2010) because many teachers were apparently falsely accused. Furthermore, these teachers were paid full salary to basically go to detention for eight hours a day while awaiting hearings to see if they would be let back in the classroom. The Rubber Room explores what it is like for six very different people to share those eight hours a day. It is a dark comedy that is very touching because you realize that these are individuals who are just trying to survive, as we all are. I find that there are elements in each character that the audience will identify with, and that people will walk away having had a wonderful and meaningful experience at the theatre.

What is it like to be a part of The Rubber Room?: So much fun! It is a great group of actors and creative team to work with. The process has been very smooth, and the rehearsal room has been a great environment where it feels safe to take risks and explore. The director has really allowed me to play, and I appreciate that a lot as an artist.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: My favorite playwright is Anton Chekhov. I love his stories so much because they give such insight into the human condition. I am drawn to stories about people trying to survive under difficult circumstances. I respect that fighting quality so much in people- the will to keep getting up even if there doesn't seem to be foreseeable hope at the moment, and his stories reflect that so beautifully. I am also drawn to the American dramas by William Inge, Clifford Odets, and Thornton Wilder. And for sure work by Chris Durang. My greatest inspirations to me as an artist are two very significant acting teachers I have been so fortunate to work with: Richard Feldman and Earle Gister. They helped me so much to believe in myself as an artist and they really worked to open up me up as an actor.

What’s it like to be a part of FringeNYC?: It's cool. I feel like it's such a New York acting experience so I am happy to take part in the tradition.

Any role you’re dying to play?: I would love to work in any of the plays by the writers I mentioned above. I would also love to focus on new work. There are so many great playwrights coming up, so it would be awesome to be apart of developing a new piece. I'd also love to focus on work that involved physical comedy. That is something I really found a love for at Juilliard.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: I recommend The Talls by Anna Kerrigan at Second Stage. It's awesome, and it is a beautiful and rich story that is also extremely funny and entertaining.

What’s up next?: I am pretty busy helping produce Anna Kerrigan's next film entitled Wunderkind. The other producers and I just had the launch party recently and it went wonderfully. So I will be busy in the coming months trying to raise funds and raise awareness about the film. Her first film called Five Days Gone did really well at the Nantucket Film Festival and the Brooklyn Film Festival (where it received Best Screenplay), so I am really thrilled and honored to be working on this project. The idea of producing is fascinating to me, and I am hoping to have a career that eventually balances acting and the production side. I find I am someone who loves to be busy, so my goal is to be involved on the producing side when I am not acting.

For more information on The Rubber Room, visit