Wednesday, February 19, 2014

An Interview with April Paul

April Paul

April Paul returns to MCT for OCTOBER, BEFORE I WAS BORN after appearing in PICNIC, the “Old Time Radio Drama” in partnership with Wisconsin Public Radio, YOU’LL NEVER UNDERSTAND, as part of the Young Playwrights Festival 2010-2011, and the 2011 staged reading of OCTOBER, BEFORE I WAS BORN. Other recent projects include the independent film "Waterwalk," as well as FREAKSHOW and SPIRITS TO ENFORCE with Youngblood Theatre. She has a BA in acting from UW-Milwaukee.
Tell us a little about your character, Anne? What are some her key characteristics and motivations?

Anne is a fashion-forward, hard-working, and independent woman, who always likes to look her best, be her best, and do her best. On top of that, she is 7 months pregnant, which slightly heightens and alters some of her emotions and motivations. Given our circumstances, you never know if she is going to handle something with ease, or fly off the deep end. I thoroughly enjoy all her strengths and weaknesses, and as she may seem a bit dramatic, you can’t help but love her.

In 2011 you played Anne in MCT’s staged reading of October, Before I Was Born. Please share insights on what it is like to return to this piece for a fully-staged production.

Raeleen McMillion & April Paul in PICNIC (2009)
This has been an amazing treat! In 2011, something inside me changed. I’m not sure why this experience had the kind of weight that it did, but this story affected me in a way I never thought it would. Even before I knew that we were going to stage this production, I was still telling everyone about this story and the explosion at Tennessee Eastman in 1960. There was something about these relationships; this family, their town, the local chemical company, and the recognizable feeling of having to WAIT… it made an impact on me. Returning to this piece has allowed me to live in this world a little longer, and (unlike a reading, which has little risk) sometimes living in this world gets tough and life becomes real intense, but there is so much hope and love that holds everything together that it’s easy to come out unharmed. Lori Matthews has written a wonderful play that speaks to everyone, and I’m so glad to be a part of all this.

Playwright Lori Matthews attended your first rehearsal and is available as a resource to the artists in MCT’s production. What is it like having access to the playwright?

It’s fantastic. She’s fantastic. Period.

Your character is pregnant. How is your physical approach to this role different from other characters you’ve played in the past?

Well first and foremost, it’s a huge challenge. Often times, when developing a role there is complete artistic freedom in terms of physical choices, and there still is, because every woman carries differently throughout their pregnancies, but it’s been a much more technical approach rather than a spontaneous one. Between live interviews, documentaries, reality television, and internet blogs, I have spent several hours watching and learning about the stages of pregnancy. Even with all that, it was hard to begin my physical process until I actually had the baby bump.

What are some of your favorite moments in theatre that made you who you are today?

Choosing an experience that stands out above the rest would be impossible, because each one has taught me something different about life and about myself. Every moment I spend in the theatre is my favorite moment.

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