Thursday, February 21, 2013

Spotlight On...Virginia Bryan

Name: Virginia Bryan

Hometown: Jefferson, Georgia

Education: The Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute; The Actor's Center and The Williamstown Theatre Festival's acting apprentice program.

Favorite Credits:
Crimes of the Heart; Game Show; Marisol (in Berlin, Germany); and writer and performer in My Three Moms.

Why theater?: I find that there is nothing more fulfilling as an artist than going out on stage nightly to tell a story and stir an audience's soul.  You can feel the energy from the audience members as they witness collectively something funny, tragic or even mundane.  It brings humanity together in a magical way.

Tell us about My Three Moms:
The show is about the three different caregivers in my life growing up in a small town in Georgia:  my birth mother, my so-called "mammy,"  and my step-mother.  These women all died over the course of 9 years and the bulk of the play takes place at their funerals.  I play myself (the daughter) and the different characters who attend the funerals, which includes family members and local towns people.  It's a quirky comedy, with touching moments, as each of these women shaped who I am today.  It played in the NY International Fringe Festival in 2010 and United Solo Festival in 2011.  This past summer, I took it on the road to the Orlando Fringe and up to the Winnipeg and Edmonton Fringe Festivals.

What inspired you to create My Three Moms?:
It all started in Jen Nails' DIY class at the Peoples Improv Theatre that I took in 2007, only a few months after my step-mother (the mother who raised me) died.  Writing was very cathartic.  At first I was just writing monologues of characters based on people I knew back home.  But I found that It was a distraction from what was really happening with me at the time - grieving the loss of my mama.  So, Jen encouraged me to just write "my story."  As I wrote, I saw that there was a story in there about the loss of not only the mama who raised me, but of the two mothers before her, the one who birthed me and the one who nursed me.  So, the show evolved out of this process.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?:
I love theater that takes the characters on an emotional roller coaster ride.  I'm a big Theresa Rebeck fan (I especially enjoyed Mauritius) and I'm constantly inspired by Christopher Durang.  His sense of the ridiculous keeps a grin on my face!  Daily, I am inspired by Pema Chodron, the American Buddhist nun, to keep being an artist.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Yikes - just one?!  Well, I'd have to say Alan Cumming.  He has always caught my attention as a heavy hitter who takes you by surprise in everything he does.  I would relish working with him in any medium.  He would keep me on my toes!

What show have you recommended to your friends?:
Michael Frayn's Noises Off.  I laughed so hard, my stomach was sore for days.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Rooney Mara in "Up the Hill, Down the Hill."

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?:

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?:
A track and field coach for boys and girls.

What’s up next?: I'll be performing with, a not-for-profit, that takes theme-based plays to inner city schools in the metro area.  I'm also writing my next play called Legally Dead, a comedy about being a trusts and estates paralegal handling dead people's affairs.  And of course, taking My Three Moms on the road again.

For more on Virginia, visit For more on My Three Moms, visit