Cast member Karen Pittman sat down to answer a few questions about herself and what her experience working on DISGRACED has been like thus far:
1) Tell us about yourself: where did you grow up? When did you know you wanted to be an actor, and where did you study? What are some of the favorite roles you've played to date?
I'm Karen Pittman. I grew up in Nashville, TN to two educators, Jack and Willie Ray Pittman, who were also scientists. I didn't know I wanted to be an actor until I was in my 20s but I have always loved dramatic play. I was one of those kids in the mirror with a microphone, or with a bunch of dolls around me, acting out a show. I studied voice and opera, actually, at Northwestern University, graduated, and worked in the music industry before I studied acting at NYU and I graduated from NYU's MFA program in 2007. I've had a bunch of great roles, but my favorite is always gonna be the one I'm working on, so of course, that's Jory in Ayad Akhtar's Disgraced. ;)
2) This is your LCT (and LCT3) debut. How has the experience been thus far?
One of the great parts about working at Lincoln Center Theater is the aesthetic. It's just the most beautiful institution in New York City, the most incredible place to walk to and from for work. OMG! I sooooo do not take it for granted! As wonderful as Broadway/Times Square is with the hustle and bustle of the theatre patrons and the neon lights, there is a kind of artistic elevation in walking into a space that is inherently beautiful because of its connection to New York City's landscape and architecture, in a new and wonderful way. Its indescribable. Lincoln Center feels like a museum sometimes; it inhabits so much artistic prestige! But it is a living, breathing, piece of art and architecture because of the dance, the music, the theatre that inhabits the space and most of all, of course, the people who walk in and out of it everyday.
3) We're entering our second week of rehearsals on DISGRACED. Tell us what you've learned about your character, Jory.
Wow...it's very hard for me to share who Jory is, because she doesn't "be" unless she is with Isaac and Amir and Emily, (the other characters) in the world that Ayad created, collaborating with director Kimberly Senior. This is gonna sound totally "Method" but it's not. The art and science of acting is transformation. Because my parents were scientists, my actor-y way into character is to acknowledge and research the character in her "habitat." And I can't really say what that is, unless I'm there with her - in her world.
4) What do you think will be the biggest challenge playing her?
The biggest challenge in playing Jory will be discovering who she is every night. Every show is different. No actor on the stage is the same from show to show. So, the characters are different from show to show. I actually don't see it as a challenge; it's the most fun part of being an actor. The challenge is the part I love the most.
5) This is the New York premiere of DISGRACED. What is like as an actor to be working on a new play, with the playwright still in the room?
Let me say that the BEST part about working on this play, in this case, is having the playwright in the room. Ayad's worth for me as an actor is his presence, which can be equally centered and curious, exploratory and penetrating. He's so centered spiritually that the essence of what the play is about couldn't really be captured if he wasn't sitting in the Mailman Rehearsal Room, pacing around with brows furrowed or sitting quietly wrapped in a shawl. It's so great. It's really really cool.
6) What current show (other than DISGRACED) have you been recommending to friends?
LOL...I also work in TV and film, and I have two gorgeous young children, so I don't really have a ton of time to see theatre. But without a doubt, I cannot wait to see Bart Sher's production of Golden Boy, a favorite play of mine by Clifford Odets, and I'm looking forward to seeing Colman Domingo's Wild With Happy, directed by Robert O'Hara at the Public Theatre. I'll be dashing out/into the Claire Tow Theater to either see those shows, or kiss my kids goodnight. But don't be surprised if you see me lingering in Lincoln Center Plaza by the Reflection Pool, chatting with some audience members after the show. I feel incredibly fortunate to be working on this great play at the most innovative theatre institution in America. I'm really going to savor every moment!
Do you have a question you'd like to ask the cast or creative team of DISGRACED? Post it in the comment section below and we'll get it answered!