I first interviewed Emily S. Grosland this past April when she was making her Off-Off-Broadway debut in Sanguine Theater Company's production of Bees and Lions. Since that time, Emily ventured out to Berkley, CA for the world premiere of Eve Ensler's Emotional Creature. Now, Emily has returned home to make her Off-Broadway debut with Emotional Creature, click here for my review, at The Pershing Square Signature Center (480 West 42nd Street, between 9th & 10th Avenue). Click here for tickets and follow the show at emotionalcreature.com and on Facebook and Twitter!
1. What made you want to audition for Emotional Creature? There are many reasons why I wanted to audition for Emotional Creature. I will give you the top three:
#3 – I have adored Eve Ensler and her work since I designed the set for The Vagina Monologues in college.
#2 – The casting breakdown (description of what they were looking for) included the phrase, "seeking androgynous to feminine girls over 18 to play ages 13-early 20’s" – it is super rare that the word androgynous pops up in a casting breakdown, so I get very excited when it does!
#1 – Honestly…I really needed a job.
2. What do you identify most with about your character? Everyone likes to ask this question, and for most shows it is super easy to answer because it is usually pretty clear what aspects of a character are already a part of my personal experience and what isn’t. However for this particular show it is very difficult to find where the character ends and I begin. In many ways, my character is me. Because we were part of the development of the piece, our characters grew out of our own personalities. Even my costume is a direct copy of an outfit that I wore to rehearsal one day.
However, her words are not mine. Eve wrote my monologues and lines before she ever met me, so the story I am telling is not literally mine. That being said, when I first read my monologue, ‘White, White Rug’ I felt an immediate connection with it. It really felt like it was my words. For me it was very obviously about a gay/genderqueer teenager’s struggle with her parent’s expectations. The key difference (possibly the only difference) between me and my character is that I am lucky enough to have very accepting parents where as my character does not.
3. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing the show? I hope that they will feel empowered. This show isn’t just a little play that you enjoy for 90 minutes and then go about your life. It is meant to change the way you think and feel. It is meant to inspire everyone to be their true self, feel their emotions fully, and stop caring about pleasing everyone else. Eve wants this piece to start a movement, a revolution. And as intimidating as that is, I have already seen it beginning to happen.
4. Emotional Creature is written by Eve Ensler. What excites you most about starring in one of her shows? Ha ha. I don’t know if I would use the word, ‘starring.’ Eve has really made a point of presenting all of us equally. It is very important to her that the six of us are a united ensemble. As an actor, sometimes the jobs can be few and far between, so I am always thankful for the opportunity to do what I love. So, to not only be lucky enough to be doing what I love every day, but also be a part of a mission/revolution that I believe in is beyond exciting.
5. What have you learned from working with Eve? I think all young artists have this dream that they will be able to affect change in society or the world through their work. Then, as you get out into the world, more and more people and experiences tell you to set your sights lower and lower. It’s like Eve never got that message from the universe. She has undoubtedly been told “that’s impossible” many times, but somehow she doesn’t believe it. I have never met someone who so unflinchingly believed in the power of art and action to change the course of our world. She and her organization (V-Day) are literally saving lives in the Congo and all over the world. If I can have a fraction of her bravery, I will be a better artist and activist. I have learned from Eve that one person, one artist, can affect change. I have learned that what we do on stage matters…a lot.
6. What do you enjoy most about performing with this cast? I love these girls! We really are a family on and off the stage. I know that no matter what happens, these ladies will have my back. I think my favorite thing about working with this group is their amazing ability to make me laugh…all the time!
7. What does it mean to you to be making your Off-Broadway debut in this show? It sounds super cheesy, but it is a dream fulfilled. I can’t express how thankful I am to be doing what I love everyday. I am painfully aware of how tough this business can be and how lucky I am that I did the right thing in the right place at the right moment to get here. It means that I can set my sights on the next goal.
8. What is your favorite part of the rehearsal/preview period in a show? Where is your favorite place to rehearse on your own? I’m weird, and I love tech. The long hours…the free candy…the anticipation…seeing everything come together for the first time.
9. What is the best part about performing in the newly built Pershing Square Signature Center? This space is incredible. Frank Gehry (the architect) built it with community in mind. And it is very effective. All three theatres face into one common space, and as a result there is wonderful interaction between artists and audiences. We've had the pleasure of meeting David Henry Hwang and the actors from The Piano Lesson and Golden Child.
10. Since Emotional Creature is about the heartbreak and thrills of being young and alive, what are some of the thrills and if you so choose to share, any heartbreaks, you have experienced being young and alive? Pursuing my career has been filled with thrills and heartbreaks. Starting out as an actor, you spend most of your time auditioning and therefore dealing with rejection time after time. You spend what little money you do have training and marketing yourself so that you can perfect your craft and get that next opportunity. And as rough as these down times can be, they are in pursuit of something that I am truly passionate about. So when I get that phone call saying that I booked the job, or when I go backstage after a really great performance the thrill is worth all of those heartbreaks.