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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Doing Justice

Bobbie Steinbach and Jeanine Kane
It is an interesting challenge to be faced with, to portray a character based on the life of an actual living breathing human being. In the case of my character Varter in Joyce Van Dyke's Deported / a dream play, the woman I am portraying happens to be the survivor of many horrors and losses that are unimaginable to most of us. To live through the kidnapping and killing of her husband and the deportation from her home; to watch in horror the deaths of her seven children; to be kidnapped and sold.... how does one bring this kind of experience to the stage? 

I was late coming into the process of the development of Deported. I came on board in August 2011, at which time the script was pretty much completed and the workshops and improvisations had already happened. I participated in a few readings, but other than that I was new to the play when we started rehearsal in February. My primary goal was to create a character who did justice to the spirit of the woman I represent. I had the great pleasure of meeting Varter's son, Martin Deranian, and he was infinitely helpful in providing photos and information about his mother. I wanted to be sure to do justice to her memory, for his sake.

Another challenge in performing this role lies in the fact that within the events of the play, Varter is a ghost. She is returning to visit her friend Victoria, who was deported at the same time. She wants to encourage Victoria to tell their stories, in order to keep our memories alive as well as provide a warning for generations to come that this has happened, and could (and sadly does) happen again. She wants to start a conversation among the living. The challenge as an actor lies in balancing the two worlds, walking that line between the living and the dead, and still remaining a real, full, truly feeling person. Going into previews, I am still working and playing and hope that Varter's spirit is alive and well through the production of this play. It has been a great pleasure playing with Joyce, Judy, and the wonderful cast and crew involved in this production.

-Jeanine Kane, Actor

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