Photo Credit: Kristin HoebermannCory Michael Smith and Amanda Quaid, Photo Credit: Joan MarcusAmanda Quaid is another rising performer to keep your eyes on! She starred on Broadway, alongside Daniel Radcliffe, in "Equus." Off-Broadway, Amanda has lit up the stage in "Galileo" opposite F. Murray Abraham (CSC), "The Illusion" (dir. Michael Mayer, Signature), Ethan Coen’s "Happy Hour" (Atlantic), "The Witch of Edmonton" (Red Bull), "Banished Children of Eve," "Yeats Project" (Irish Rep), and the world premiere of Christopher Durang’s "Not a Creature Was Stirring" (Flea). Regional audiences have seen Amanda's talent as "Vivie" in "Mrs. Warren’s Profession" opposite Elizabeth Ashley (Shakespeare Theatre), "Rosalind" in "As You Like It" (Folger), and "Juliet" in "Romeo and Juliet" (HVSF).

Currently, Amanda is shining brightly in Mike Bartlett's touching and hilarous new play "Cock" at The Duke on 42nd Street in NYC (229 West 42nd Street, between 7th & 8th Ave). Click here for tickets and follow "Cock" on Facebook and Twitter!

1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? I knew I wanted to act, but seeing Cherry Jones in "The Heiress" made me want to go into theater. I was 10 and sat in the balcony with my mom. I had brought Jr. Mints to eat, but I became so absorbed in the play, they spilled out and melted, and I didn't even notice. In the cab home, I stared out the window, thinking about the power she had, and her simplicity. From then on, I went to every play I possibly could.

2. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? The list of actors is never ending.  Vanessa Redgrave, Elizabeth Marvel, Mark Rylance, John Douglas Thompson...In terms of directors, Ivo van Hove's work really excites me, as does David Cromer's. There are so many. And I would love to have more international collaboration, to work with directors and companies from abroad and be exposed to new ways of working.

3. What attracted you to "Cock"? The play is like a puzzle. There is no set, no props, no mime, no stage directions, no character descriptions, and very little punctuation. I knew that audiences would have to listen actively to form the big picture in their own minds. We can sense them using their imaginations to fill in the gaps, and that dynamic is very exciting. It’s also just a spectacularly smart, funny, moving play that comes at familiar social questions from fresh angles. I was floored by how it could be hysterical, heartbreaking, and dialectical all at the same time.

4. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing the show? Everyone finds something different. Some people really connect to the questions it raises about sexuality and relationships. Others are inspired to see a new theatrical model. I can’t tell you how many acting students have stayed after the show to say that it inspired them to think differently about what is actually necessary to tell a story theatrically.

5. What do you identify most with about your character "W"? She has a naked heart and frank need for intimacy, but also a strong backbone and sharp wit. She doesn’t suffer fools, and she asserts herself, but she can also be incredibly vulnerable. That range is a joy to play.

6. I saw "Cock" earlier in the week and loved it. I thought you all worked so well together. What has been the best part about performing with this cast? What is your favorite part of the show? Thank you. To do a play that is such a true ensemble piece is very fulfilling. We trust and rely upon each other tremendously. It really is like a sporting event in that sense, but we’re all simultaneously each other’s teammates and opponents. My favorite parts of the show are when we’re working the most collaboratively --overlapping and interrupting each other and using the dialogue almost like a musical quartet to create a certain effect. It’s pure ensemble acting, and it’s the most fun I’ve ever had on stage.

7. What is your favorite part of the preview/rehearsal period in a show? Where is your favorite place to rehearse on your own? With a new play like this especially, you can’t beat the electricity of the first preview, when you have no idea where the responses are going to come or if the audience will be with you. Then when they are, it’s some kind of fourth-dimensional bliss. It all suddenly comes together.  In terms of rehearsing alone, when I’m working on a part, most of my own rehearsal just goes on in my head, taking walks, sitting by the window, looking for ways in wherever they appear.

8. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer? I've learned to let go.

9. What's the best advice you've ever received? When I was 17, for my first professional audition, I had to read Juliet's balcony scene. I wondered how I could read such famous words and bring anything fresh to them. I kept looking, in all the wrong places, for a way to make it "different." A wise actor told me, "just go in there and do it from your heart. If you do it from your heart, and make it as personal as you possibly can, it will always be different from how anyone has done it before." I got the part.

10. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? Unfortunately, I think they say everybody in our dreams is just some facet of ourselves. But I do get excited when I meet someone in a dream who announces they have a message for me, and they're really explicit about it. That's a big deal. And a little frightening sometimes.

BONUS QUESTIONS:

11. Favorite way to spend your day off? This year on Mondays, I've been leading a Shakespeare workshop at a senior center in Chelsea. It's been the best use of a day off I've found. 

12. Favorite way to stay in shape? Dance, yoga, rowing in the park, Twister...

13. Favorite skin care product? Sunscreen.

14. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? Omnilingualism!

XELLE

Matt Doyle: Constant EP Interview