Bethany Anne Lind is currently giving a knockout performance as Leigh – the accuser – in Signature Theatre’s amazing new play Really Really by Paul Downs Colaizzo. Bethany is based in Atlanta and performed at Alliance Theatre in August: Osage County, Georgia Shakespeare in Metamorphoses and The Glass Menagerie, Horizon Theatre in Night Blooms and Jewish Theatre of The South in The Last Schwartz. Her film and TV credits include Mean Girls 2 and Drop Dead Diva. Bethany gives a subtle yet powerful performance in Really Really and I urge you to get out to Signature to catch Bethany and the other amazing members of the cast. It’s a night in the theatre you won’t forget.
What was your first professional performing job?
My first paying gig was in the chorus of Oklahoma! at a dinner theatre right after I graduated from college. However, I consider my first professional experience to be shortly after that playing a small role (and understudying) in Twelfth Night at North Carolina Shakespeare Festival. I grew up seeing plays there, and the opportunity to be a part of the company and perform with actors who had inspired me to go into it was a wonderful kick start for my own motivation to really pursue this as a career.
When I had successfully begged an audition slot for myself, I hadn’t read the script yet; all that I had was a character description. So of course, I started Googling and found that circulating rumor about Really Really being based on the Duke Lacrosse scandal. I read some articles about the case at that time. Then I read our script… My opinion of the situation, intentions, and surroundings of the real life case and the world of the play were very different. Thankfully, Paul Downs Colaizzo dispelled the rumor at our first rehearsal of it being “based” on the Duke scandal and has tried to do so in the press as well. The only similarity I might take from the two is an example of the youth of our generation thinking that we can put ourselves in any situation and do whatever we want without consequence. The play, however, is much more focused on how this generation uses whatever circumstances they are in (whether by chance or by choice) to get what they want.
Really Really is a very intense and emotionally draining play. What do you do to unwind after a performance?
It’s interesting – through all of our rehearsal runs and even the week of previews I would just be exhausted, and yes, drained by the end of the play. I’d sit in my dressing room and slowly get out of costume listening to Etta James and trying to re-enter “regular” life. But just a few performances before our official opening, through some self-evaluation and some wise direction from Matt Gardiner, I realized that I was wasting a lot of energy throughout the play by preparing myself emotionally for what comes at the end, rather than allowing myself to truly live in each scene and let my objectives drive the action. It’s so oddly fun now, that for such an emotional journey, I am never forcing myself to reach any emotional level; it’s all absolutely driven by deep wants, and the emotion inevitably shows up. It’s very rewarding; sometimes I leave the theatre with more energy than when I came. It also helps that Jake Odmark (who plays the “he said” to my “she said”) and I have a great offstage relationship. He along with the rest of the cast and production team are very protective of me, which makes me feel incredibly safe.
What is the most exciting part of creating a role in a world premiere play?
I love playwrights. I love bringing a character to life for the person who penned it. It’s so collaborative and so delicate and even painful. Eventually, the playwright has to step back and you have to have earned her or his trust to do what started maybe as just a title or a line or a character name. But when you’re in a room with other actors, a director and a playwright? There’s just so much imagination flying everywhere. There’s nothing like it.
What would you like audiences to take away with them after watching a performance of Really Really?
I’m so glad you asked this question! I hope, hope, hope that people walk away talking/thinking about more than who they “side” with or believe or don’t believe. I think initially it’s what we think about, but as we begin to dissect the broader themes of the play and allow for seeing ourselves in the hearts of these characters, I hope we can also allow for some self-examination. What does constantly looking out for only my own interest do for the world? What are we doing to each other? What am I doing to myself? I think paradoxically Paul has asked these questions really delicately while also rubbing them so much in our faces that the discussion is inescapable. Also, since I need to keep buying groceries, I hope they will walk away and call me with job offers… In fact, now that I think about it, Oklahoma! might be a nice breather. Anyone?
Bethany Anne Lind’s website.