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Monday, June 4, 2012

12 Questions for an Actor: Julane Havens

A Visual Arts Education Research Agenda for the 21st Century
Julane Havens (right) with her sister, Kelsey Christianson.
Julane Havens is an Artistic/Development Associate with Walden Theatre, where she teaches acting, ensemble movement, clowning, and Shakespeare in the conservatory program, in addition to developing and teaching drama workshops and residencies for Walden’s Outreach Education Program. She most recently directed Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and played Cecily in Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest for Savage Rose Classical Theatre Company, where she is an Artistic Associate. She is the Co-Director of the Summer Shakespeare Intensive at Walden Theatre – Louisville’s most advanced classical theater training program for high school students. She will be playing Shelly in Bunbury Theatre’s upcoming production of Sam Shepard’s Pulitzer Prize Winner, Buried Child (June 8 – 24).
Julane Havens as Cecily in The Importance
of Being Earnest.
Photo by Harlan Taylor.
1. How long have you been an actor?
There is video footage of me using my Grandparents’ back porch as a stage and performing scenes with stuffed animals. I was four years old. When my sister was born, my family attempted to put her into the spotlight with me. I shouted, “No! You are ruining the stage!” Sorry about that, sis.

2. What inspires you?

My students at Walden Theatre. They are brave as hell. I didn’t set out to teach acting, but having to articulate how to do it well has made me a better actor. When I see my students in the audience, I am inspired to practice what I preach and give all that I’ve got.

3. What was the first play where you felt, “I am an actor”?

The Merchant of Venice was my first play in grad school. I was Portia. The cast was asked to look up every single word they said and write out the definitions. It took me two weeks to complete, but by the end I had fallen in love with Shakespeare. During one of the rehearsals the director asked me, “Have you ever 'acted' before?” If I hadn’t, I knew that I had to with every fiber of my being. It was in creating this simple, actor-driven production when I learned the difference between the art of acting and “performing.”

4. What has been your favorite role so far?
I recently played Cecily Cardew in The Importance of Being Earnest with Savage Rose. It has been years since I have had so much fun on stage. I feel lucky to work alongside local talent who prove you don’t have to be in New York to see great theater.

5. What has been your least favorite role?
I played the role of Red (the Bird) at Red Robin (the Restaurant) when I was in high school. I reeked of French fries and was abused by small children. At least no one could see my face.

6. What is your dream role?
Cordelia and the Fool in King Lear. It is speculated that the same actor played both roles in the original production. I am ready whenever the opportunity presents itself.

7. What is the best direction you have ever been given?
It’s a tie between: “Place your attention outside of yourself and you will allow yourself to see,” and “Be in the oil painting rather than the snapshot.”

8. What is the worst?

Believe it or not, I was in a show where the director yelled at me and another actor for doing the scene slightly differently…on our second day of rehearsal. Directors who dictate every movement and vocal inflection of the actor have control issues they should work out elsewhere.  My mentor once told me, “If you want to have a meaningful life in the theater, don’t be a sheep, be a thoughtful thorn in the side of the director.”As someone who both acts and directs, I believe the best productions come out of respectful collaboration.

9. Who is your favorite playwright?

Shakespeare’s First Folio is my Bible. My favorite living playwright is Caryl Churchill.

10. What makes the local theatre scene so strong?
I’m from Seattle and I have lived in Kansas City and New York City – all known for great theater. After spending three seasons with Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, I made the decision to live here because I saw an opportunity to be a part of a blossoming theater community – and it is growing fast! We have remarkable local playwrights, designers, and talent with a passion to produce the highest caliber – professional – productions right here in Louisville. Supporting them and uplifting their work will ensure a bright future for the Louisville theater scene.

11. What are its weaknesses?

The Fund for the Arts does an amazing job providing theater experiences for students, but I wish there were more opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds to see theater. Tickets are expensive, and while I believe the work that I do is worth the price, I also understand that many people simply can’t afford it. I would love to see more “pay what you can” nights in Louisville, because those who are young, or struggling financially, or both, are the ones who need the transformative power of great storytelling the most. I want to create theater that is for all people – not just "theater people" – that reaches as many people as possible.

12. If you couldn’t be an actor, what would be your choice as a profession?

Laughter Therapist/Joyologist.



Buried Child

June 8-24, 2012

Bunbury Theatre
at the Henry Clay
604 S. Third St.
Louisville, KY
(502) 585-5306
www.bunburytheatre.org

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