Artist of the Week: Katharine Ruegger

Artist of the Week: Katharine Ruegger

By Olivia Adams

When did you become interested in theatre?

Officially, when I got stuck in a preschool spring break camp playing a silent and saucy little red hen. More significantly, when I was in fourth grade playing a sassy, but much louder, emperor in my class play. Truly, after my first Fringe festival.

What drew you to theatre and are those the same things you love about it today?

My family has always valued music and literature above most everything else. When I first started doing community theatre, I was all about musicals- and that electricity that came from singing and dancing in a magic box was something that I really loved, but only if it was to fuel some type of story that meant something to me. Now, I don’t do as much musical theatre, and more ensemble work. It’s become necessary- taking on that challenge, living through someone else, and, above else, telling the story.

What has been your favorite role or show to date?

Either Tartuffe here at University, or an insane original piece called ZirkusGrimm that I got to do with a small professional company in Irvington.

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What other passions and interests to you have and do you see any connections between those and acting or theatre in general?

I love to be outside and in my community. When I’m not going to and from school, chances are, I’m going to be getting places on my bike. It serves as a wonderful vessel for memorizing lines, working out beats, and singing Spanish arias. I’m starting to get more involved in sustainability through cycling, and I’d love to find ways to tie that to theatre- there’s a theatre company in England that I’m enamoured with right now that does just that, called the HandleBards, which tours all over Europe on their bikes. (Here’s a link to what they do: http://www.peculius.com/handlebards.html)

Do you have a process or method to get into character or how do you do so?

Yes ma’am! I’m still discovering the best process for myself, but right now, I keep things active- playing on my feet and playing on paper. I try to make sure that when I’m working on my own, I balance these two- if I spend too much time on my notebook writing analyses, I tend to get in my head, and my work is too internal to be accessible to the audience, which is the goal. I start with my feet, figuring out what kind of character I am- am I more about myself, others, or both in relation? After I’ve found a rooted stance, I shift weight around, play as that character, and discover what my values are. How do I see the world, in a way that serves the circumstances, my objective, and the story? Before all of this, I usually work through scene analyses- first noting what all of the others are doing, then what I am doing. When in rehearsal, I find if I can keep myself present by listening to others and not myself (grace!), that helps- dividing the analyses from the action is key. Method wise, I use a lot of Lecoq (http://www.ecole-jacqueslecoq.com/en/school_en-000001.html), a bit of Laban (http://teach.alimomeni.net/2012fall2b/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/LabanMovementAnalysis1.png, and some Practical Aesthetics (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Practical_Aesthetics).

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Do you draw inspiration from any particular actors or others in the industry?

A bit. There are definitely actors in the local scene who I look up to. As far as “celebrities,” I don’t watch movies very often, but I love me some Charlie Chaplin.

If you could be anywhere, doing anything, in 15 years, where would that be?

Either having a stable acting job at one of the more imaginative regional theatres, or (more likely) being a part of an ensemble that’s creating compelling work in an engaged community, cultivating change through telling stories.

Finally, if you had to be a talking fruit or vegetable for the rest of your life, which would you be? (You will not be eaten or rot away.)

A red bell pepper- they’re BEAUTIFUL on the inside.

 

Images: Courtesy of Katharine Ruegger

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