Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Angelica Howland joins Actors Theatre for The Book Club Play and The Cottage

Meet our guest blogger Angelica Howland, the upcoming star in the Actors Theatre summer season: 

Angelica makes her home in Phoenix, Arizona with her husband, Brian, son, Harrison and two wagging piles of furry love, Charlotte and Hansel. 

Some of her recent theatrical credits include: 

-At Birth with The Hormel Festival of New Plays and Musicals 2014
-All New People with Stray Cat Theatre; 
-The 39 Steps with Phoenix Theatre; 
-In The Next Room (or The Vibrator Play) with Actor’s Theatre (ariZoni Award, Actress in a Major Role).  

And some favorite theatrical credits include: 

-Doubt and A Parable with Actors Theatre, 
-You Can’t Take It With You with Phoenix Theatre  
-The Yellow Boat and Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse with Childsplay.  

This year marks 20 years that I have been a professional actress. In November of 1995 I played Jenny in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie at Phoenix Theatre. Working with the late Michael D. Mitchell was my first experience with a professional director and I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. None. I had taken drama in high school but up until this point, I wanted to be a dancer. An injury made me change my focus. Which is very good because I was quite mediocre. And clumsy.

Anyway, Mr. Mitchell gave me my first crash course in the art of acting. A week into rehearsals, as we Brodie girls stood there being girls, Michael came to us and told us that the other three were doing very well but, that I needed work. I was stunned. All my lines were memorized. I was playing, "the beautiful one" and I thought, "Am I not being beautiful enough?" He said, "Angelica, do you know the story we are telling?" I didn't. I had memorized my lines and my cue lines but, no -- I had no idea what the story was that we were telling.

I went home that night and read the entire play. Three times, cover to cover. That week I rented the movie starring Maggie Smith. I thought deep thoughts and began to listen to what the actors around me were saying. At the end of the week, Mr. Mitchell looked at me and smiled. That was it. Just a smile. And I breathed a sigh of relief. That man gave me a gift I have used every project since: "Do you know the story you are telling?" Thank you, you wise angel of a man!

What story am I telling now? This current project with Actors Theatre is a new adventure for me. I'm telling two stories (The Book Club Play and The Cottage) and . At the same time. And they are two very funny, yet very different ones. I'm nervous. And so excited.

I'm playing with Maren and Ian for the first time. Two actors I greatly admire -- who are also good friends. And I'm once again getting to share the stage with my dear friend, Joe. We share a comfortable chemistry that allows us to play in a way that pleases us both. Not to mention its a ton of fun. Tyler was my reader for an audition in the winter. All I could think as we read together was,"'Wow -- I hope I get to work with him one day.' and, woo hoo! My wish was granted. I just met Alexis yesterday and I'm already chomping at the bit to get down and dirty in the rehearsal hall with her. I can't wait to get down and dirty with all of them.

AND? I'm working with Matthew Wiener. Matthew and I have done several projects together now. I used to be afraid of him. I would go into his auditions shaking like a leaf. Now? Not only has he taught me many valuable lessons concerning the art of storytelling and we speak an unexplained kind of shorthand when we work together, he is also my friend.

I consider Actors Theatre the playground in my own backyard. I'm so fortunate to have a place to play and still get to be in my home city while raising my son. I've worked with several artists on the boards and behind the scenes of this theatre company who have pushed me creatively and I have done work I am very proud of on their stage. It thrills me to be celebrating this 20 years of storytelling with several members of my theatre family. I kind of want to wrap the world up in my arms right now and give it a hard squeeze.
I'm a lucky, lucky woman.

- Angelica Howland 

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