Sunday, August 2, 2015

Spotlight On...Kristina Mueller

Name: Kristina Mueller

Hometown: Munich, Germany

Education: NYU Tisch/Stella Adler/RADA, London

Select Credits: Theatre- Rose in Grasses Of A Thousand Colors by Wallace Shawn, directed by André Gregory at The Public Theatre, Mom in Both My Grandfathers by Kirya Traber, directed by Benjamin Lundberg at the Clark Studio Theatre at Lincoln Center, Vulgo/Scud/Euphrasie in Marvellous by Matthew Minnicino, directed by Elizabeth Nearing at Fringe NYC 2014, Nurse in Romeo & Juliet, directed by Dan Beaulieu with Seven Stages Shakespeare, NH. New Media- Co-Creator, -writer, -producer & -star of "BE Bettina & Elaine" - 2 Friends. 2 phones. 2 minutes. Shooting Season 2 in September!

Why theater?: I love that theatre is live, that it is created in front of you. That makes it very unapologetic to me. You can be big! Theatre is movement is story is bodies together in a space creating. The fact that your body is so involved is appealing to me. Especially as an actress and more generally as a woman, I have a conflicted relationship to my body —there are so many people and images and ridiculous media norms that are dictating how my body should look and be, and because you cannot really be truthful on stage if you are not connected to your body, it makes me reexamine those norms. If I’m not in(to) my body, then I’m not in my voice, then I’m not projecting the truth. Theatre is a big space for truth. Being WITH people. Why theatre? Because people.

Who do you play in Hand Grenades?: I play Diana, she is the main character. Her name comes from the goddess of the hunt. She is searching & hunting for something and then can’t quite grasp it when she has it.

Tell us about Hand Grenades: It’s a play about Love, finding the right person at the wrong time. Is there one person we’re meant to be with? If yes, does that mean we will eventually end up with that person, or is it on us to recognize it and act accordingly? One of the things I like about the play is that Fate is a character, so it raises a discussion of how much responsibility you have in creating and maintaining your relationship. Can you just leave it up to Fate? To me, the show doesn’t dictate any way of thinking, which I really enjoy, so you as the audience member can decide what you think of each character and what they are doing or not doing.

What is it like being a part of Hand Grenades?: So so lovely. I’ve had the privilege of working with all of the people in the show on other plays, so it is a very safe space to try things out and make mistakes and then try something else. Rebecca Cunningham, our director, gives us so much collaborating power, which I love. We are using an old school projector and whoever is playing the character of Fate (each one of us three actors at some point in the play) is in charge of moving the set pieces around and adding or taking things away from what is being projected. I really like the home-made feel of it. I like it when you’re aware that it’s theatre, I think there’s something so beautiful about that. The process for Fringe is very short, so we’ve really been hitting the pavement, there’s not much time for dilly-dallying.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I am incredibly drawn to weird abstract experimental movement theatre. Shakespeare, the depth and oomph and intensity and stakes of it! And then I also love Annie Baker…so I’m all over the place. I’m into collaborative things, whether it’s something that a group of people has created from nothing, or just a very tight ensemble cast. You can really feel it when something has a lot of Love in it, when the people involved care about it beyond financial gain. That is the type of art and theatre I am into. I think that is also when it sparks change, when it makes a difference, when it has the power to speak to many groups of people and move something.

Any roles you’re dying to play?: Oh my gosh, when I’m older definitely Martha from Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. Right now I’d love to play Juliet! Any Shakespeare, really —Shakespeare all summer somewhere in the woods by a lake, that is a constant dream. Any character by Annie Baker (can you tell I’m obsessed?).

What’s your favorite showtune?: Ooooh, I’m not super well-versed in musicals, but I did get really obsessed with original Broadway cast recording of Into The Woods after the movie came out and listened to “Agony” on repeat….does that count? I also think “No More” is heartbreaking. Besides that I’ve been listening mainly to embarrassing, yet fantastic, 90s pop/rock hits lately…...

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Annie Baker…I think that’s abundantly and maybe embarrassingly clear from this interview. Steven Soderbergh, especially if he ever directs another independent-style feature like "Sex, Lies, And Videotape", one of my very favorites. I would work with Wally Shawn and André Gregory again in a heartbeat.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Maybe Sandra Bullock! I’ve heard she’s also German, I think on a grandmother’s side, and we look sort of similar. It would be called "Mueller?….Mueller?" BAAHAAHA!! I have no idea.

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: The Pillow Man on Broadway! I did a scene from it in college, where I played Katurian Katurian Katurian and I LOVED it and then subsequently heard from everyone that the Broadway production had been so terrifying. I like scary movies and I was intrigued that a live play could be so fear-inducing. Didn’t people faint? I remember hearing that.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: A few years ago The Aliens by Annie Baker —that was my FAVORITE play that year. I really liked JOHN, which I saw this past weekend and is also by Ms. Baker, directed by Sam Gold.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: I was just telling my cast mate, Chris, at our last rehearsal that I think I’m addicted to peanut butter. Now I’m also remembering that one of my cast mates, Stevie Walker-Webb, from my last show, Both My Grandfathers, was always commenting on how I am eternally in search of smoothies with peanut butter in them. I don’t know how guilty peanut butter is on the pleasure scale but it is definitely pleasurable. Come to think of it, last night I ate a bunch of pb while watching "Seinfeld" (guilty pleasure?) and when i woke up this morning the jar was still on my nightstand….

What’s up next?: At the end of September, we’re shooting the second season of the web series I created with my good friend, Calaine Schafer: "BE Bettina & Elaine!" It’s about best friends and how their phones help to keep them connected in their busy lives. So it includes a lot of phone calls and text messages and tweets. For this new season we’re trying to use film a bit more creatively to represent the phones. Making the show has been an amazing experience —I’ve never produced anything before this —I recommend working on the opposite side of things to all actors and actresses. I’ve really gotten such perspective and a new-found respect for all the hard work that producers, writers, crew members do behind the camera. And it’s fun!

For more on Kristina, visit