MEET THE ACTORS

JEAN H. MILLER Jean is a 35-year veteran of Washington regional theatre, having worked with theatres too numerous to list (many of which are still in operation) and diverse genres–from Greek tragedy to contemporary, Shakespeare to 19th century melodrama.  She has performed with Venus Theatre in several staged readings, and is pleased to be able to immerse herself in the intimacy of this space and, like the suffragettes, in the company of strong, like-minded and talented women. What keeps you acting/ inspires to you perform? I love the challenge of bringing a character to life off the page and into the minds of audiences.  You can read a play, and it doesn’t grab you – but see it performed and it can come alive!  That’s the difference an actor (and a good director) can make.  I want to create a character who is likable, sympathetic, or at least resonates to the audience, even if that character is dastardly, disgusting, or idiotic, because every character is integral in some way to the whole of the play, illuminating the plot, the other characters, or the human condition.  Every character on stage mirrors someone in our lives–we all know somebody like that. And, face it, I like applause!  It is so enjoyable to have an appreciative audience. My most rewarding experience on stage? That’s a hard one.  If you mean my favorite roles, there are so many.   But, on the larger scale, it’s rewarding to be part of a cast coming together in an amazing camaraderie, for a few brief weeks, to produce something powerful, or funny or tragic that affects an audience.  When you can hear the audience audibly sniffling, or the nervous awkward chuckles become guffaws, you’ve got an engaged audience.  That’s rewarding.  How does it feel to be in Venus immersive space?   Intimate spaces like Venus’ require serious focus and concentration.  After all, you’re practically in the audience’s lap.  Every little detail–and every flaw--is visible; the audience can explore your character up close and personal as they say.  But intimate spaces also allow an audience member to step out of “watching”, to break the 4th wall as it were, and immerse himself in the play itself.  

JEAN H. MILLER

Jean is a 35-year veteran of Washington regional theatre, having worked with theatres too numerous to list (many of which are still in operation) and diverse genres–from Greek tragedy to contemporary, Shakespeare to 19th century melodrama.  She has performed with Venus Theatre in several staged readings, and is pleased to be able to immerse herself in the intimacy of this space and, like the suffragettes, in the company of strong, like-minded and talented women.

What keeps you acting/ inspires to you perform?
I love the challenge of bringing a character to life off the page and into the minds of audiences.  You can read a play, and it doesn’t grab you – but see it performed and it can come alive!  That’s the difference an actor (and a good director) can make.  I want to create a character who is likable, sympathetic, or at least resonates to the audience, even if that character is dastardly, disgusting, or idiotic, because every character is integral in some way to the whole of the play, illuminating the plot, the other characters, or the human condition.  Every character on stage mirrors someone in our lives–we all know somebody like that.

And, face it, I like applause!  It is so enjoyable to have an appreciative audience.

My most rewarding experience on stage?
That’s a hard one.  If you mean my favorite roles, there are so many.   But, on the larger scale, it’s rewarding to be part of a cast coming together in an amazing camaraderie, for a few brief weeks, to produce something powerful, or funny or tragic that affects an audience.  When you can hear the audience audibly sniffling, or the nervous awkward chuckles become guffaws, you’ve got an engaged audience.  That’s rewarding. 

How does it feel to be in Venus immersive space?  
Intimate spaces like Venus’ require serious focus and concentration.  After all, you’re practically in the audience’s lap.  Every little detail–and every flaw--is visible; the audience can explore your character up close and personal as they say.  But intimate spaces also allow an audience member to step out of “watching”, to break the 4th wall as it were, and immerse himself in the play itself.

 

ALLISON FRISCH Allison Frisch has appeared locally in Princess Margaret at Thelma Theatre (DCMTA Best of 2015 – Best Leading Actress in a Play), Fools at Parlor Room Theatre, and W.A.S.P.s at FABUM and regionally in Ravenscroft, Kung Fu Kitty, and Book of Days at Okoboji Summer Theatre.  She is a graduate of the Studio Theatre Acting Conservatory and received a BFA in Theatre Performance with a minor in Dance from Stephens College.  This one’s for my mama, a strong woman who raised me both to have my own voice and to listen to the voices of others.     What keeps you acting/ inspires to you perform? I had a recent realization that one of the things that draws me the most to performing is the way that it forces the actors and the audience into a state of complete presence.  All of the things in our world that normally create distractions are eliminated in the world of the play and the audience and the actors experience everything together.  When I am performing, I can feel when the audience is on the journey with me.  There are the more obvious cues: laughter, tears, gasps; but there is also a palpable shift in energy when a room full of people is simultaneously connecting.  That exchange of energy is what I thrive on.  In a world of technology and busy schedules people are starving for uninterrupted human connection, and I think theatre feeds that need to some degree.   My most rewarding experience on stage? What comes to mind (maybe because I’m back to playing British maids in this one) is a production of The Importance of Being Earnest I did when I had just started acting.  I was cast as the two maids, Lane and Merriman I believe.  Somehow in the rehearsal process Merriman became this extremely old woman who could barely walk.  I would come out (I had basically no lines) and just slowly shuffle across the stage peering forward and blinking a lot.  This cross took a long time.  Invariably this would elicit huge guffaws of laughter from the audience.  I had always gone out of my way trying to make people laugh, but to have a whole room full of people laughing was a new and thrilling experience.  I guess the other takeaway was that I thought I had been given a throwaway character, and based on purely the written lines it would have been, but I was able to give it life through my own choices.  Maybe that was the first time I found the ‘art’ in acting.   How does it feel to be in Venus immersive space?   This is my first experience with Venus and it has been wonderful.  Deb has such a clear vision, and being handed a strong foundation to work off of has allowed me a lot of freedom to play.  The Suffrage Plays are extremely relevant to the current political climate, and are very empowering in a way, but probably couldn’t be produced at a more commercial theatre.  I went to an all-women’s college so being back in an all-female cast with a mostly female production team and championing women’s voices feels a lot like being home.  The theatre itself is cozy and offers the opportunity for a very intimate actor-audience relationship. I couldn’t ask for anything more, and I can’t wait to get audience into the space.    

ALLISON FRISCH

Allison Frisch has appeared locally in Princess Margaret at Thelma Theatre (DCMTA Best of 2015 – Best Leading Actress in a Play), Fools at Parlor Room Theatre, and W.A.S.P.s at FABUM and regionally in Ravenscroft, Kung Fu Kitty, and Book of Days at Okoboji Summer Theatre.  She is a graduate of the Studio Theatre Acting Conservatory and received a BFA in Theatre Performance with a minor in Dance from Stephens College.  This one’s for my mama, a strong woman who raised me both to have my own voice and to listen to the voices of others.    

What keeps you acting/ inspires to you perform?
I had a recent realization that one of the things that draws me the most to performing is the way that it forces the actors and the audience into a state of complete presence.  All of the things in our world that normally create distractions are eliminated in the world of the play and the audience and the actors experience everything together.  When I am performing, I can feel when the audience is on the journey with me.  There are the more obvious cues: laughter, tears, gasps; but there is also a palpable shift in energy when a room full of people is simultaneously connecting.  That exchange of energy is what I thrive on.  In a world of technology and busy schedules people are starving for uninterrupted human connection, and I think theatre feeds that need to some degree.  


My most rewarding experience on stage?
What comes to mind (maybe because I’m back to playing British maids in this one) is a production of The Importance of Being Earnest I did when I had just started acting.  I was cast as the two maids, Lane and Merriman I believe.  Somehow in the rehearsal process Merriman became this extremely old woman who could barely walk.  I would come out (I had basically no lines) and just slowly shuffle across the stage peering forward and blinking a lot.  This cross took a long time.  Invariably this would elicit huge guffaws of laughter from the audience.  I had always gone out of my way trying to make people laugh, but to have a whole room full of people laughing was a new and thrilling experience.  I guess the other takeaway was that I thought I had been given a throwaway character, and based on purely the written lines it would have been, but I was able to give it life through my own choices.  Maybe that was the first time I found the ‘art’ in acting.  



How does it feel to be in Venus immersive space?  
This is my first experience with Venus and it has been wonderful.  Deb has such a clear vision, and being handed a strong foundation to work off of has allowed me a lot of freedom to play.  The Suffrage Plays are extremely relevant to the current political climate, and are very empowering in a way, but probably couldn’t be produced at a more commercial theatre.  I went to an all-women’s college so being back in an all-female cast with a mostly female production team and championing women’s voices feels a lot like being home.  The theatre itself is cozy and offers the opportunity for a very intimate actor-audience relationship. I couldn’t ask for anything more, and I can’t wait to get audience into the space.    

ERIN HANRATTY Erin Hanratty is a graduate of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County BFA in Acting program and has since been performing in the Baltimore/DC area. The majority of her work has centered around world premieres of new plays, predominately written by women. Some of these include dry bones rising at Venus Theatre, Heavy Hors D'oeuvres and Kerrmoor with Interrobang Theatre, the latter having been performed in New York City as part of the 2016 International Fringe Festival. This Summer Erin will appear as the Princess of France in Love's Labour's Lost with Baltimore Shakespeare Factory and will return to Venus in the Fall for The Ravens by Alana Valentine.  What keeps you acting/inspires you to perform? I love telling and hearing stories. I've been thinking a lot recently about the importance of art and theater in our present world. I've often wondered about people's ability or inability to empathize with anyone different from them. And I realized that that's what I do all the time. My job as an actor is to learn the story of a person who is not myself and who maybe has had very different life experiences than I have had, and then to tell that story to an audience. I have played a character who's brother died in combat overseas. I don't have a brother in real life, but I know loss and grief. I can look at my character's situation and say, "Yes. I know what that feels like." When I tell my character's story, I want the audience to also think to themselves, "Ah, yes. I know that." even if they haven't experienced the literal situation. Theater and storytelling is so important, now more than ever. It's a chance for us to come together and rediscover what connects us as human beings.  What experience is among your most rewarding on stage? I have had several very rewarding experiences on stage, each for a different reason. dry bones rising at Venus is up there at the top of my list because it is the most physically demanding performance I have ever done. The set was like a jungle gym and I had to leap, climb, scramble, and crawl. It was exhilarating to get to use so much energy and it was a challenge to really see what I was capable of physically. I've never done anything like it since. It has been one of my favorite sets to perform in because it informed so much of my creative process and I felt I could truly immerse myself in the world of the play.  How does it feel to be in the small immersive women driven space at Venus? The close proximity to my cast mates and to the audience fosters a sense of intimacy and community at Venus. Having also been an audience member at Venus shows, I always feel very connected to the action onstage. Working in the space and with majority female casts and creative teams encourages me to let down my guard quickly and become more open to creating honest connections with my fellow actors. There is a sense of security in knowing that we are all on this journey together and as a team we're going to create something beautiful! 

ERIN HANRATTY

Erin Hanratty is a graduate of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County BFA in Acting program and has since been performing in the Baltimore/DC area. The majority of her work has centered around world premieres of new plays, predominately written by women. Some of these include dry bones rising at Venus Theatre, Heavy Hors D'oeuvres and Kerrmoor with Interrobang Theatre, the latter having been performed in New York City as part of the 2016 International Fringe Festival. This Summer Erin will appear as the Princess of France in Love's Labour's Lost with Baltimore Shakespeare Factory and will return to Venus in the Fall for The Ravens by Alana Valentine. 

What keeps you acting/inspires you to perform?

I love telling and hearing stories. I've been thinking a lot recently about the importance of art and theater in our present world. I've often wondered about people's ability or inability to empathize with anyone different from them. And I realized that that's what I do all the time. My job as an actor is to learn the story of a person who is not myself and who maybe has had very different life experiences than I have had, and then to tell that story to an audience. I have played a character who's brother died in combat overseas. I don't have a brother in real life, but I know loss and grief. I can look at my character's situation and say, "Yes. I know what that feels like." When I tell my character's story, I want the audience to also think to themselves, "Ah, yes. I know that." even if they haven't experienced the literal situation. Theater and storytelling is so important, now more than ever. It's a chance for us to come together and rediscover what connects us as human beings. 

What experience is among your most rewarding on stage?

I have had several very rewarding experiences on stage, each for a different reason. dry bones rising at Venus is up there at the top of my list because it is the most physically demanding performance I have ever done. The set was like a jungle gym and I had to leap, climb, scramble, and crawl. It was exhilarating to get to use so much energy and it was a challenge to really see what I was capable of physically. I've never done anything like it since. It has been one of my favorite sets to perform in because it informed so much of my creative process and I felt I could truly immerse myself in the world of the play. 

How does it feel to be in the small immersive women driven space at Venus?

The close proximity to my cast mates and to the audience fosters a sense of intimacy and community at Venus. Having also been an audience member at Venus shows, I always feel very connected to the action onstage. Working in the space and with majority female casts and creative teams encourages me to let down my guard quickly and become more open to creating honest connections with my fellow actors. There is a sense of security in knowing that we are all on this journey together and as a team we're going to create something beautiful! 

CHRISTINE JACOBS Christine Jacobs is thrilled to be performing in her first show with Venus Theatre Company. Her previous DC credits include A Midsummer Night's Dream with Annapolis Shakespeare Company and a reading of Ellis!: A New Musical with LoNotes Music. Christine has a B.A. in Theatre from the College of William and Mary and studied at Circle in the Square Theatre School. What keeps you acting/ inspires to you perform? I love how the stories we tell in the theatre can teach people, can connect people, and can help people escape. And I've always thought that the most powerful way to tell a story is to tell it live in front of an audience. My most rewarding experience on stage? I always think back to the first time I was really able to make an audience laugh. After that, I was hooked! How does it feel to be in Venus immersive space?   It has been wonderful so far! There is a great sense of camaraderie within the cast and crew, which I think comes from both the size of the space and the subject matter of the work.

CHRISTINE JACOBS

Christine Jacobs is thrilled to be performing in her first show with Venus Theatre Company. Her previous DC credits include A Midsummer Night's Dream with Annapolis Shakespeare Company and a reading of Ellis!: A New Musical with LoNotes Music. Christine has a B.A. in Theatre from the College of William and Mary and studied at Circle in the Square Theatre School.

What keeps you acting/ inspires to you perform?
I love how the stories we tell in the theatre can teach people, can connect people, and can help people escape. And I've always thought that the most powerful way to tell a story is to tell it live in front of an audience.

My most rewarding experience on stage?
I always think back to the first time I was really able to make an audience laugh. After that, I was hooked!

How does it feel to be in Venus immersive space?  
It has been wonderful so far! There is a great sense of camaraderie within the cast and crew, which I think comes from both the size of the space and the subject matter of the work.

EMILY SUCHER Emily Sucher is an actor, director, comic, and teaching artist. A graduate of Johns Hopkins University, she has worked professionally in Maryland, D.C., Virginia, and New York, and is a proud Equity Membership Candidate. Many thanks to Deb, Lydia, and the talented cast for all of their hard work!  What keeps you acting/ inspires to you perform? Theatre is my favorite thing. It's my favorite way to learn, reach people, and share stories and experiences. While I rely on the internet as much as the next millennial, I also believe that there is an urgent need for people to get out from behind their screens and interact in person. Theatre has the power to ask hard questions, and the epilogue of any show is the audience's discussion after. I love being part of this process.   My most rewarding experience on stage? My best overall acting experience thus far was performing in CLYBOURNE PARK at Shadowland Theatre in Ellenville, N.Y. back in summer 2015. It was a challenging text, I had two roles that were difficult in different ways, and I thrived on the opportunity to step up my game to match the potential of the work itself and the amazing company around me. Pre-professionally, one of my favorite roles to this day was back in the Johns Hopkins University Theatre as the Player in ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD. Few professional companies would cast a female actor in that role, and I loved getting to explore.   How does it feel to be in Venus immersive space?   I am having a blast putting this women-driven series on its feet with such creative and passionate artists! I love Venus's mission statement and the intimacy of the space. I only wish there were more seats for the opportunity to share these stories with more people!

EMILY SUCHER

Emily Sucher is an actor, director, comic, and teaching artist. A graduate of Johns Hopkins University, she has worked professionally in Maryland, D.C., Virginia, and New York, and is a proud Equity Membership Candidate. Many thanks to Deb, Lydia, and the talented cast for all of their hard work! 

What keeps you acting/ inspires to you perform?

Theatre is my favorite thing. It's my favorite way to learn, reach people, and share stories and experiences. While I rely on the internet as much as the next millennial, I also believe that there is an urgent need for people to get out from behind their screens and interact in person. Theatre has the power to ask hard questions, and the epilogue of any show is the audience's discussion after. I love being part of this process. 

 My most rewarding experience on stage?

My best overall acting experience thus far was performing in CLYBOURNE PARK at Shadowland Theatre in Ellenville, N.Y. back in summer 2015. It was a challenging text, I had two roles that were difficult in different ways, and I thrived on the opportunity to step up my game to match the potential of the work itself and the amazing company around me. Pre-professionally, one of my favorite roles to this day was back in the Johns Hopkins University Theatre as the Player in ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD. Few professional companies would cast a female actor in that role, and I loved getting to explore. 

 How does it feel to be in Venus immersive space?  

I am having a blast putting this women-driven series on its feet with such creative and passionate artists! I love Venus's mission statement and the intimacy of the space. I only wish there were more seats for the opportunity to share these stories with more people!