"The live voice and the live story is what we need as a society. It gives us our humanity." — Kate Sullivan
EH: You graduated in theater from the University of Hawaii with a BA in theater?
KS: Yes. I received some nice training and I always wanted to take part in the building of a small theater. That happened here.
EH: What are your favorite roles; what would you like to create here?
KS: Any good part in a great play is a dream, because you are etching out that role forever. The author has given you so much to work with. You can play it a thousand times and you are still deepening the performance. I’m open to all roles and plays. Shakespeare, Williams, new plays. I get really excited, you know, working on an original piece. I love being part of that playwright, actor, director, collaboration. I would love this theater to grow so that it can be a place where actors, directors and playwrights can continue to create together.
EH: Do you think that Ashland can handle that?
KS: I think any place can. I think any theater has a duty to. This world can create anything technologically and still what we need as human beings are our stories. What kids crave most are bedtime stories. I think we as adults still want that live voice, as well, telling us a story. It’s in our DNA. I come from Scottish-Irish blood and every lesson was told in a story; there was not a short “yes” or “no” answer to anything. Everything was a story. The live voice and the live story is what we need as a society. It gives us our humanity. It gives us our sense of self. Theaters keep that legacy going and original works are a part of that. We have done quite a few new works with our children’s theater and we hope to continue.
EH: As an actor, do you think acting has expanded your world?
KS: It has on many levels. You are reading some amazing works of art and delving into the human condition. The great writers are the artists in the theater; they are the ones who are linked to the muse. It is the actor’s job to interpret. And through that interpretation and collaboration with talented actors and directors, of course, one can only be expanded. Working diligently on the words affects you and broadens your understanding about this world and about your own humanity. I think that acting starts with compassion, that what we have to offer is our understanding of the world. You are in play with the playwright, you’re right there trying to grab those words and deepen them, finding a connection, and offering yourself to them; it’s a huge responsibility. Olivier said, “Acting is service.” I suppose at the heart of me is a desire for service. We are in service to our communities. I think that that is why I am here at this little theater. It’s something I can do to build something, to help offer theater to our next generation. I want theater to be accessible to everybody. We try, at Oregon Stage Works-Ashland Children’s Theatre, to create space so that every child who wants to take a class can take a class with us. I would love for this theater to continue growing, to offer theater to all who want to take part, to see it, to be involved in it, to learn about it. Theater with its rigor is a great learning ground for anything.
Working with children is hugely gratifying. They are to be served. Our community is to be served, and the playwright is to be served. We have a duty to offer ourselves, or the best of ourselves, to our community, to our children and to our passion. To do the thing we love, and to try to do it well, and to keep learning, and broadening our understanding, I guess that’s serving, that’s the important thing. Don’t you think?