Wednesday, April 11, 2012

BUS STOP Q & A with Brenna Kempf

BUS STOP starts tomorrow April 12th!! As promised here is another actor interview. This time we have Brenna Kempf, a UW-Parkside acting student who will be playing the part of Elma. Here she gives us some insight into what the process has been like as a student in a professional production.

Brenna Kempf

What are some of the differences in the rehearsal process between a typical UW-Parkside show and this experience at MCT?
While working on BUS STOP with equity actors at MCT, we are rehearsing on an equity schedule. This means that we typically rehearse 5-6 hours per night during the week, with two 8-hour rehearsals per weekend. At UW-Parkside, however, rehearsals are usually held from 6-10 PM with no weekend rehearsals. The rehearsal process at UWP can average to about 4 to 7 weeks of rehearsal, whereas with BUS STOP, we've had three weeks of rehearsal (and we are now jumping into tech and opening week!). In short, we've spent much more time in the rehearsal room at MCT, which allowed for us to look at specific scenes and moments much more intimately. At first, I feared that the 6 and 8 hour rehearsals would feel incredibly long and tiresome, but Lisa (our director) and the rest of the team always find new ideas and energy to invest into the specific moments that we work with. Looking back at our three weeks of rehearsal, it feels like such a whirlwind. I sincerely feel, however, that I have found a rootedness within our rehearsal time that has enabled me to grow both as my character (Elma), and as a performer in training.
Tell us your first reaction upon reading BUS STOP.
When I first read BUS STOP, I immediately adored each of the characters and their personal journeys. There was a sort of sparkle in all of them, and I just remember feeling really excited to see them come to life and not only live out their journeys, but to interact and connect with the journeys of the others. About two months after the cast was announced, I read through the script again and really focused on the environment of the 1950s, which is the setting of this story. I suddenly fell into a small panic, specifically about Elma and her relationship with Dr. Lyman. I wondered how young girls of today could watch this story unfold and be able to relate with Elma, who initially doesn't understand Dr. Lyman's intentions. I felt that with today's teachings on awareness of "stranger danger" and other recent issues, such as online safety, Elma's journey just couldn't relate to teenagers of today. All of this fear was washed away at our very first rehearsal as Lisa reinforced the strength of the themes that she saw in the play. It was not about the time in which these emotions were experienced, but simply about experiencing the emotions of love and loss. We can all relate and remember those feelings, no matter what time or place we experience them in. To me, this was a reminder of what theatre is and why I love to do it: to connect as a community through remembering our humanity. I am so excited to share this story and these emotions with the audience members of MCT!
What is it like to act on stage with your professor?
I've known Jamie since I started my theatre training at UW-Parkside, so he has seen the journey of my performance work and has helped me in shaping and developing it.  So it's been really interesting to work alongside him! Jamie gives a lot of focused energy when working in scenes, (something that he promotes and lectures on in class), and I've been focusing on providing that same sense of energy back to him and all of the other actors. Having him as a scene partner, resource, and support in rehearsals has been great. 

What have you learned as a student/performer during the course of rehearsal?
Working on BUS STOP with the team of MCT and UWP artists has sincerely strengthened my appreciation for our craft and has taught me a lot about performance/character development and creative collaboration. Mostly, though, I have had the opportunity to meet and work alongside so many wonderful people who are passionate about life and sharing it with others. Working with them on this process has fueled my enthusiasm for the future - for both artistic collaborations and life in general.

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