“Agnes of God” by John Pielmeier is being presented by Factory 449, a theatre collective performing at the Anacostia Arts Center in Washington, D.C. until November 24, 2019. The play is directed by Helen Hayes Award winner, Rick Hammerly and features Helen Hayes Award winners, Felicia Curry & Nanna Ingvarsson.
The play premiered in 1979 on Broadway and was later adapted into a film.
A brief summary of the play is as follows:
Summoned to a convent, Dr. Martha Livingstone, a court-appointed psychiatrist, is charged with assessing the sanity of Agnes, a novice nun accused of murdering her newborn. During her investigation of the death, which inevitably leads to questions of the child’s conception, Dr. Livingstone contends with objections from the convent’s calculating Mother Superior, the church itself, and even Agnes, who professes total ignorance of both the process of procreation and of her own pregnancy. As questions are asked and secrets revealed, the three women are forced to re-examine the meaning of faith, the power of love and the existence of modern-day miracles.
I had a chance to interview Felicia Curry who plays Dr. Martha Livingstone in the productions.
Bio: Felicia Curry received a 2018 Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Play for her work as Lela in Factory 449’s “Lela & Co.” and was recently seen as Undine in Mosaic Theatre Company’s “Fabulation Or, The Re-Education of Undine.” Other local credits include “Nina Simone: Four Women” and “Disgraced” (Arena Stage); “Jefferson’s Garden,: “Ragtime,” “A Christmas Carol,” “Civil War” and “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” (Ford’s Theatre); “Collective Rage,” “An Octoroon” (Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company); “Matilda” (Olney Theatre Center for the Performing Arts); “Laugh” and “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson” (Studio Theatre); “OLIVERio” (Kennedy Center); “This” and “Caroline, or Change: (Round House Theatre); “Home” (Rep Stage), as well as productions with Adventure Theatre MTC, Imagination Stage and Toby’s Dinner Theatre. Her regional credits include “The Mountaintop” and “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” (Gulfshore Playhouse), “The Color Purple” and “Dreamgirls” (Virginia Repertory Theatre), and “Sister Act” (Riverside Center for the Performing Arts). She has received 7 Helen Hayes Award nominations, an RTCC Supporting Actress nomination (“Dreamgirls”) and a RTCC Best Actress Award (“The Color Purple”). She will be seen in the world premiere of Mo Willems’ “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! (The Musical)” at the Kennedy Center. Felicia is a Factory 449 company member.
- Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I was born in Michigan but grew up in New Jersey. Yes, I’m a proud Jersey girl! I’ve been in the DMV since college (proud to say I’ve lived in MD, VA, and DC!) and currently reside in artist housing at the Brookland Artspace Lofts. I attended The University of Maryland and have a degree in Journalism, with a minor in Performing Arts.
- When did you start acting?
The theatre bug bit early! When I was about 3, I sang Whitney Houston’s “The Greatest Love of All” in a talent show and then at 5, I performed in my first musical, The Wizard of Oz, with All Children’s Theatre. Now here we are, decades later, and that pesky bug is still chomping away!
- Did you have someone you used as a role model (an actor or teacher, perhaps) and why?
When I was younger, I was inspired by Whitney (performing all her songs for my appreciative mirror) and Phylicia Rashad (especially when I found out she did theater), but it was my choir teacher, band teacher, and guidance counselor that supported, encouraged, and pushed me, ultimately leading to my career as an artist and performer.
- You have performed many roles. Other than your present role, which ones are your favorites?
In some ways, every role is a favorite, allowing you to experience something unique or unexpected. Currently, in Factory 449’s “Agnes of God,” I’m rediscovering the satisfaction of having a cigarette in my hand…imitation cigarettes, this time around! But of all the roles I’ve performed, I would have to say Lela in “Lela & Co.” for Factory 449 and Celie in “The Color Purple” for Virginia Repertory Theatre have been the most rewarding. I love being a storyteller and illuminating the lives of strong, resilient, and powerful women. Both of these roles and shows challenged me, Lela, as a dramatic actress and Celie as a musical theatre actress, and actually forced me to grow as an artist and performer.
- You won a Helen Hayes Award and have worked primarily in the D.C. area. What sets this region apart as a place for theatre?
Two very important things come to mind when I think of our DC Metro theater community. First, I believe we have the smartest, most supportive, and loving audiences in the country, who enjoy being challenged and who leave the theatre asking questions and participating in conversations in response to the productions and performances they have seen. The second is what we in the theater community have to offer to these audiences. Unlike other cities, I believe you can come to the DC area and find, in one of our nearly 80 theater companies, a theater that speaks to you. Shakespeare, movement-based theatre, puppetry, experimental theatre, the classics, new works…we have it all, and I’m honored and grateful that in my years as a part of this community. I’ve played roles I never thought I’d have the chance to play. I’ve created incredible characters. and I’ve worked with the most amazing people. I love my DC theatre family!
“Agnes of God” presented by Factory 449 will be at the Anacostia Arts Center, 1231 Good Hope Road, SE, Washington, D.C. 20020 until November 24, 2019. For information about this show or Factory 449 go to their website. Tickets may be purchased online.
Photo credit: Marvin Joseph