Sisters with Herself – Wendy Waddell on Playing Twins in LESSON 443
This isn’t Wendy Waddell’s first “dance” at MOXIE Theatre. She’s been working with MOXIE since our early days. Her role in LESSON 443, however, is a first of sorts. Waddell plays half the roles in the play, including one living character and one ghost who just happen to be twins. Waddell took time to discuss the unique experience of playing Maggie and Lottie in LESSON 443 by Tatiana Suarez-Pico, playing now through May 24, 2015 at MOXIE Theatre.
So, twins? That has to be a unique acting experience. Have you found it challenging?
The biggest challenge is trying to make each character their own. Lottie and Maggie are very different women, and I’ve been attempting to show those differences. I’m using different registers of my voice for each, the way they move, stand, do their hair, interact with Cari and Manny. It’s tricky, but I find that I’m able to feel the changes between the two each time I come on stage. I’m also trying to steer clear of any stereotypes with these particular women. And it’s taking me out of my comfort zone because I’m being very conscious of all my “go-to” facial expressions and body movements and trying not to rely on them.
The sisters are different from each other but do you have anything in common with either of them?
I can definitely relate to Maggie since I’m the mother of a young girl. Granted, my daughter is still only 4 and Cari is 14, but I feel the rapport between those two characters is extremely similar to the one I have with my own daughter. It’s playful, loving, honest, critical and at times, painful. The “Mama Bear” that comes out in Maggie definitely resonates with me as well. I want to protect my daughter at all costs, but I also want her to fend for herself. It’s a tightrope I walk daily. With Lottie, I can relate to her flirtatious nature, since I’m that way myself. She also turns and runs from confrontation. I don’t necessarily do that, but I can relate to her wanting to put the past behind her and move on. I actually think that’s one of the more healthy attributes of Lottie. She tries not to dwell in the past. I’m learning to be better about that.
Will you tell us about playing a ghost?
Truth be told, I actually forget that Maggie is a ghost sometimes. She’s real to me. I love her and care about her and want her to be heard in this play, so I’m not trying to do anything “ghostly” with her. She’s also very real to Cari, and I live within her mind and confines, so if Cari doesn’t see her as a ghost, then I can’t be that way.
You mentioned being a mother. How has that real life experience affected your performance?
As a mother, I find that I play a mom a lot more now. And when I do, it hits home in a way it never did prior to the birth of my own daughter. I usually wind up falling in love with the actors who play my child, and Dani (Daniela Millan) is no exception. She’s embodied Cari so completely and truthfully, that I feel like a mom to her, onstage and off. The reality that we are mortal and “you never have enough time with the people you love,” resonates so keenly with me. Every night, I get choked up at the end. It’s real to me. It’s painful, it’s freeing, it’s that mother/daughter bond that is indescribable. My love for my own daughter feeds into the love I feel towards Dani.
There are several “lessons” in LESSON 443. What do YOU hope the audience will take away with them?
I hope audiences walk away with some laughter and tears. I hope they are reminded to be good to each other. I hope they are reminded of how we are all connected and how the actions of one affects many. And I hope they recognize the love that exists in this world we’ve created.
Catch Waddell as both Lottie and Maggie in LESSON 443 at MOXIE Theatre. Playing now – May 24, 2015. Tickets available at www.moxietheatre.com/lesson443 or call 858-598-7620