Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Spotlight On...Catherine Gowl

Name: Catherine Gowl

Hometown: NYC. I was born and raised in Murray Hill.

Education: BA in the History and Literature of France and America from Harvard. MFA in Acting from the Old Globe/USD.

Select Credits: Baby Joey/Callaghan in the War Horse North American Tour. Chyrsothemis in Electra at the Pittsburgh Public Theater. Understudy for all of the female roles in Theater for a New Audience’s tour of Merchant of Venice. Kate in Taming of the Shrew and Emilia in Othello at the Virginia Shakespeare Festival. Cordelia in King Lear, and Elizabeth in Six Degrees of Separation at the Old Globe. Milton in The Director at The Flea. Wendy in I’m Not Peter Pan at the Cherry Lane and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Associate Artist with blessed unrest.

Why theater?: I believe that theater is one of our greatest tools in what I trust, at least on some subliminal level, is the universal human project towards empathy. I love telling stories, finding points of connection to and entry into lives distant from mine, and the small act of community building and consciousness raising that comes with each performance. Theater, especially theater in intimate spaces, can demand an immediate and visceral connection between audience and performer that both engages the imagination, and bypasses it, to go straight for the gut.

Who do you play in Body?: Body is a fully ensemble piece, but my main role step out role is that of the Doctor. She is a trauma surgeon.

Tell us about Body: Body is a fully devised piece, that started with a germ of an idea and some bodies in a room. The initial activation energy came from the real life inspiration of two people: a painter of nudes and a trauma surgeon. How do these two professionals see and encounter the body differently? Our exploration lead us to other sources of inspiration: a sister struggling with her sister’s absence, and a woman grappling with the literal loss of part of herself. Body has become an exploration of our relationships to, and through, the body.

What is it like being a part of Body?: My work and education have taken me out of the city for 5 or so of the 8 years I have been working with blessed unrest, but even with that time away, blessed unrest has become the artistic home to which I always return. Body has brought together an ensemble of actors who know each other both as professionals and as complex whole people. We are a true family, and from that foundation our rehearsal room is utterly safe and therefore deliciously dangerous.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I’m an omnivore, theatrically. I’ll see shows in houses and warehouses and Broadway houses. I am moved by theater that seems necessary, that lingers with me afterwards, that surprises me by engaging my thoughts and my feelings, and that demonstrates mastery and/or exuberant mess. Tom Nelis, Chuck Mee especially as directed by Tina Landau, Ivan Van Hove, Jason Robert Brown, Fun Home, Trip Cullman, Laurie Metcalf, Branden Jacob-Jenkins, Ko Murobushi, Keli O’Hara, K. Todd Freeman, Will Eno - these are some of the people who inspire me.

Any roles you’re dying to play?: I’d love to do a Shakespearean pants role: Rosalind, Portia; and I’ve recently developed a hunger for Lady M. Anything by Will Eno.  I do love working collaboratively, though, so a play written with me in mind, that I’d really love to do.

What’s your favorite showtune?: At this moment, "Another Life" by Jason Robert Brown. But I was raised on Camelot and have a solid through line of love for Sondheim.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: There are so many wonderful artists I’ve yet to work with. Today, I’ll say Steppenwolf. The totality of the world they created with Airline Highway blew me away.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called: Jessica Ranville then Keri Russell and then Annette Bening. “The Right Words”

If you could go back in time and see any musical or play you missed what would it be?: The Rite of Spring complete with riot.

What show have you recommended to your friends: Airline Highway. Gloria. Fun Home. Hand to God. Curious Incident.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Nut butter from the container, frequently on a double-dipped spoon.

What’s up next: The Return at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in July. This piece is an intersection of traditional performance and new technology. I play a docent in conversation with a digital avatar of a Renaissance sculpture of Adam, played by an actor in a motion capture suit in the next room and rendered using gaming technology. Together we tell the story of how the sculpture, the Biblical Adam on which it is based, the fall that shattered it in 2002, and the digital Adam that was used to help the conservators reconstruct it over 12 years are all intertwined.