Name: Jayne Houdyshell
Show: The Language Archive
Q: Where are you from?
A: Topeka, Kansas
Q: What was your first acting gig? A: I was the lead Candy Cane in my 1st grade Christmas play. I sang a one line solo and my Mother said she could hear every word. My first paying gig was a non-equity stock season at Hope College Summer Theater. I got $15.00 a week, plus housing. That summer one of the roles I played was Kate in TAMING OF THE SHREW. My Mother again said she heard every word, probably because at age 19 my idea of being shrewish was pretty much yelling every line.
Q: Do you have any pre-show routines or rituals?
A: I get to the theater at least an hour early, say hi to the crew and stage management team. I set my hair, and laugh and laugh with Betty Gilpin and Heidi Schrek about really ridiculous things while we apply and re-apply make-up. I also sing a few scales.
Q: What is your favorite moment in The Language Archive?
A: I love the top of the Second Act when the character of George asks the audience to participate in a brief Esperanto lesson. It energizes them and us. After the distractions of intermission, everyone becomes immediately present and accounted for through the world of the play. Very smart playwrighting Julia Cho!
Q: Do you have any theatre-related superstitions?
A: Just the usual. NEVER quote the Scottish play, and don't whistle backstage.
Q: What is your favorite spot in NYC?
A: After 30 years of living here I still find Central Park miraculous and unbelievably beautiful. I love what happens to people when they get off the crazy streets of Manhattan and spend time in such an elegant green space.
Q: If you weren’t an actor, what would you be?
A: I would be a therapist... As an actor I've already spent an lifetime examining the human condition... I think I would have a leg up. And... therapy is helpful.
Q: Any words of wisdom to aspiring performers?
A: If you feel you MUST perform, then do it with all of your heart, mind, and soul. It's a rigorous life that requires dedication, courage, and love. Stay open to growth .... no matter how long you act, there's always something new to learn.
Jayne Houdyshell can currently be seen in The Language Archive, now playing at the Laura Pels Theatre inside the Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre through December 19.
2010-2011 Season, Star Spotlight, The Language Archive