In the midst of busy rehearsals, AMY IPPOLITO took a few minutes for an interview about her roles in the upcoming virtual production of RICHARD III. The interview was conducted by Northeast Stage board member, Abigail Field. Be sure to check out her soliloquey as Lady Anne below!
What role(s) are you playing?
I am playing Lady Anne and the Murderer.
Tell me about Lady Anne, who is she in the play?
Lady Anne is the widow of Prince Edward (daughter in law to King Henry) who Richard has both killed. She is technically in the War of the Roses from the Red Rose meaning house of Lancaster. She becomes Richard's wife until she dies.
What do you most enjoy about playing her?
I love Lady Anne's fearlessness. She knows what she has to do to keep herself safe and she fights back every chance she gets. Never physically but mentally, she is so smart that she is able to in the moment take the rhetoric being used either by Richard or the other Queens and twist them to benefit her. It's incredible to watch and so fun to play, Shakespeare writes some pretty kick a** women.
What is most challenging about playing her?
What's most challenging is finding that moment when she agrees to marry Richard, it’s not easy and sometimes the answer is no. Because it's different every time we run it. And that's how it should be and it’s what keeps it alive and "real". Whether Amy thinks she should doesn't matter because Anne does say yes, so finding that switch from defense to agreement is always a challenge in the best way.
You have a special connection to Shakespeare, right? You study Shakespeare? Tell me about that.
I love Shakespeare. I focused on him in college and am currently getting two master degrees in Shakespeare. It's exhausting and wonderful. For my thesis I'm focusing on villains and specifically Richard so honestly since the first time we've done this play in 2017, I've never stopped working on it haha!
Colin said the play unfairly maligns Richard III, that he was a rather ordinary monarch, rather than an archvillain. What's your take?
Oh wow, I don't have time to spell this all out. The Tudor Myth is a real thing and Richard was a decent king. He didn't kill all the people Shakespeare says he does, and we cannot prove he killed the Princes. We can prove that Buckingham had more to do with it than Shakespeare lets on. It's fascinating to me that we as a species decided to just believe this one playwright to tell us our history. Because he's a PLAYWRIGHT not a historian. Shakespeare had to make drama! History can be boring and not as exciting so things had to change to make it interesting to watch! Especially considering history was written for the winners, Shakespeare was literally writing for the winner of this war between Richard and Henry VII.
How does your Shakespeare background inform your approach to this character and/or any Shakespeare work you do?
It informs everything. It's been a challenge this time around to keep my mouth shut because I want to tell everyone all I've been learning haha! But this is what I do, I love Shakespeare and my approach to his text is the same way I look at any text as an actor because in some way Shakespeare is in every play.
Is this pandemic play the first time you've ever done a remote production?
I haven't done remote productions since the pandemic but this play is not my first. I've done a few as well as assistant directed a few plays online as well as taught online over the summer and last spring. I am still teaching/assistant directing online. It's definitely different. But I'm just happy to still be able to do my work and do my work safely, it's not ideal but it's what we have to do right now. As an actor I've noticed that I am more exhausted after rehearsal because as an actor you spend your rehearsal giving your energy to others and you get your fellow cast's energies back. But online you are still giving your energy out but you can't get any back and that's so exhausting and draining and a little painful.
When did you start acting?
Hmmm I started acting when I was little, there had to be an elementary school play there somewhere. But I started my life as a pointe ballerina at around 2 or 3. I got injured and had to stop, as a freshman in high school I was able to take a theater class and thought I could do this, and just kept doing that haha!
Do you have a favorite scene in Richard III? It doesn't have to be one you're in, but it could be.
My favorite scene in Richard is each and every one of Richard's 7 soliloquies. I'm biased because that's my field of research and it's been my field of research since my undergraduate career and I'm able to expand and dive deeper into the world of Shakespeare soliloquies in my graduate career. Because Richard is the only one who gets these incredible moments to be honest and vulnerable with the audience which is why we cheer him on, until we don't and that tension between Richard and the audience is what makes this play the absolute best play in the canon. I will fight everyone on it haha! Or I'll just send them my thesis when it's done...
RICHARD III will be presented virtually on November 28, 2020 at 8:00PM. There will be a link provided a few days before the production.