The Way of the World
Season 08-09 Season

Face Time with Veanne Cox and Christopher Innvar

BY LIZA LORENZ

The Way of the World and Twelfth Night feature the return of Veanne Cox and Christopher Innvar, who first appeared together in Michael Kahn’s production of The Beaux’ Stratagem as Mrs. Sullen and Jack Archer, respectively. Innvar also played Petruchio in STC's 2007 production of The Taming of the Shrew, directed by Rebecca Bayla Taichman. The two actors offered their thoughts on everything from dream roles to favorite D.C. haunts.

Veanne Cox
Hometown: Virginia, D.C. and New York

Most recent role: Sister in Damn Yankees

Dream role: For now, Millamant in The Way of the World and Olivia in Twelfth Night.

Do you have a favorite role among your credits: Amanda in Private Lives, which I did last year at the Guthrie Theater, and Mrs. Sullen in The Beaux’ Stratagem here in 2006.

Role in The Way of the World: Millamant

Role in Twelfth Night: Olivia

Favorite D.C. haunts: When I feel like I’ll die if I don’t get a good meal, Vidalia. And Tunnicliff’s is a home to all actors.

Pre-performance rituals: Pretzel sticks and almond butter. Panic. And a great physical and vocal warm-up to get past the panic.

What is currently on your IPod: You Decide by the Rave Tesar Trio. Music for Minorities by Mikel Rouse. The Blue Vipers of Brooklyn.

Who was the most influential person in your theatre career: Living playwrights who made creating new theatre an exciting collaboration and dead playwrights for the best plays. Michael Kahn, for believing in me being a leading lady. And supportive friends.

This is your second production with Michael Kahn. Why are you interested in working with him again: I love listening to his voice; it sounds like he’s conjuring something, and he usually is. He is a great man of the theatre, and I love working for anyone whose great passion is my own.

This is your first production with Rebecca Bayla Taichman. What intrigued you about her work:
Chris Innvar said she was great. Someone else said she was crazy. That’s a combination I like to work with.

Michael Kahn has jokingly referred to The Way of the World as the Sex and the City of its day. What modern-day character would you compare Millamant to? What drives her actions in the play?
Carla Bruni Sarkozy. Fear and love drive Millamant’s actions in the play.

You played Olivia in the staged Twelfth Night reading at the Kennedy Center to kick off the citywide Shakespeare in Washington festival. What did you find you loved about the character?
Olivia is not very poetic. There is great economy in her words and actions. She tells it like it is.

Rebecca has talked about Twelfth Night as a Mozartian comedy, balancing profound longing and loneliness with delicious humor. How do you see this idea playing out in the character of Olivia?
The way it plays out in Veanne. It is a question of survival.

Christopher Innvar
Hometown: Huntington, NY

Most recent role: Elyot in Private Lives at Barrington Stage Co.

Dream role: Cyrano De Bergerac, which I played a few years ago at Barrington Stage Co.

Role in The Way of the World: Mirabell

Role in Twelfth Night: Duke Orsino

Favorite D.C. haunts: I love Eastern Market. One of the first things I do when I get to town is go to Market Lunch for a crab cake sandwich ... or the oysters ... or both. I also love the little used book store by the market.

Pre-performance rituals: My pre-show ritual consists of bicycling to the theatre. I always seem to work here in the fall. It's my favorite time of year, and Capitol Hill looks breathtaking around twilight.

What’s currently on your IPod: Bunny Berigan—listen to his trumpet on "I Can't Get Started" ... killer. Also Tom Waits’ "House Where Nobody Lives" ... too much. Mavis Staples’ new recording "We'll Never Turn Back" ... get it!!!

Who was the most influential person in your theatre career:
Alan Langdon, my first acting teacher and mentor. He inspired me to strive to become an artist. He encouraged me to be daring, inventive, self-expressive, and he helped me appreciate how original we all are.

This is your second production with Rebecca Bayla Taichman. Why were you interested in working with her again:
She has a great vision, no limits. She creates a fertile atmosphere in the rehearsal room, which frees up the actors to make bold choices ... and she's a lot of fun to be around. Plus she was patient with me when I misbehaved!

This is also your second production with Michael Kahn. Why were you interested in working with him again:
Because he's just plain brilliant; working with him and watching him work with the other actors, his vast knowledge of these texts and the history surrounding them ... it's this great opportunity to learn, sort of a master class every day ... plus he's a bit of a devil as well, so I love him for that.

Michael Kahn has jokingly referred to The Way of the World as the Sex and the City of its day. Do you see any similarities between the two?
I haven't seen much of Sex and the City, but I would say it compares to The Way of the World in that wit and beauty were highly prized and that power, money and sex were continuously being bartered and pursued. I think Mirabell and Millimant love each other and are trying to find "A Way of the Heart" that they can live with within The Way of the World.

Rebecca has talked about the “profound, unrequited longing” at the heart of Twelfth Night. How does this affect our view of Orsino, who can be seen as fickle in the quick change of his affections from Olivia to Viola?
Yes, he makes a quick turn around from Olivia to Viola. It's something I won't fully understand until I make my way through the rehearsal period with Rebecca. Shakespeare might be saying love is fickle and that we really don't know our own hearts. I also think we can love many people in our lives, sometimes at the same time, which is complicated. It's a great question that I hope to be able to answer more fully by say ... December 2nd!

8/22/2008

 

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