Backstage: Inviting the audience in

Oregon Shakespeare Festival actor Lauren Modica, appears in “Henry IV, Part One” and “Henry IV, Part Two,” where she portrays multiple roles including Peto, the gal pal of Falstaff and Price Hal. Next season she will be playing in “Romeo and Juliet” and “Sense and Sensibility.” Modica is from Portland, where she developed her extensive resume by performing in many of the remarkable theaters there. She was hired after she submitted a video audition to OSF.

LM: Working here is the best education, in terms of who you get to work with and watch and learn from. It’s never an easy path for anyone who wants to act in theater. It’s a hard career to break into. It’s made all the harder if you are at all outside the norm; and I, as a 4-foot, 8-inch woman with dwarfism, who’s half African American, recognize now as an adult what some professors may have been trying to communicate: which is that any little thing makes it so much harder, makes your path so much longer, or more intense in terms of obstacles. But at the time, having some cold hard realities introduced, was so disheartening: Having something that I loved, that I was encouraged to do and explore — and having someone say there’s no way I could possibly make it as a professional actor. I’m very happy that I have the chance to prove them wrong. I’m just grateful for the chance to make a fool of myself, to learn, to grow.

EH: What makes a great actor?

LM: Curiosity, a sense of hospitality, and a sense of humility. When performing for an audience, if an actor views the theater space as home, you’re inviting people in — of course you share hospitality. You’re coming together, and you’re saying: “Hopefully we’re going to have this experience together, and you will leave satiated in some way, cleansed in some way, and thinking. You will leave actively engaged in what has just happened.” I always want the audience to feel that they have a right to respond, however it moves them. I want them to feel comfortable, to make that human connection.

EH: What makes theater unique among the other arts?

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