Alexandra Rooney and Olivia Fergus-Brummer

Preparing for the stage is an extended process. After learning your character(s) over the past several months, how would you describe them?

ALEXANDRA: The first word I think of to describe young Hayley is warrior.  Even after all she has been through, she is very strong. I would also describe her as a fun, kind and a music and dance lover. I feel like she is super smart and mature for her age based on how she speaks. I would describe her as strong willed, but also very caring because of the way she interacts with her mom.  

OLIVIA: Azura’s heart is bound by a live wire that runs to the tip of her finger, sparking a current of joy into everyone she meets. Regardless of their will to receive it, all are left with electricity Azura dreams they’ll pass on to another. She sees magnificence in the mundane— seemingly empty rooms exceptional playgrounds for discovery. Sensing kindred experiences with others in this story spurs her to leap into action, however misguided. Azura fosters friendship by sharing her rose-tinted glasses, wicked wit, and outstanding confidence. In seeking to heal from past trauma, she enthusiastically gives herself to the world and seldom asks for anything in return.

The role you played aside, what character do you resonate with the most and why?

ALEXANDRA: I relate to Azura because she’s very energetic and happy like me and tries to look on the positive side of things! 

OLIVIA: I’ve found likeness, however frustrating, in Courtney’s gentleness, displays of keen observation, and intellectuality. Her understanding and processing of trauma through studying philosophical literature is also very dear to me. She treads with tremendous thought and compassion— each phrase carefully calculated to articulate her care for those she loves. I think there’s power in timidity, however jointly symptomatic of insecurity. 

The process of performing gives you repeated runs through the entire script. What is the one scene, monologue, or line that sticks with you, or stands as your favorite?

ALEXANDRA: My two favorite scenes

in the whole play are singing Loneliest Disguise and the last scene with me and my older self. 

I would say Loneliest Disguise because I really love the song and I think it’s so impactful for this show. The  scene with my older self means a lot to me  because I feel like it’s sad, but also somewhat comforting.  It feels to me like the most important scene in the show. 

OLIVIA: The grace and humor with which Tabitha utilizes to lead Hayley through frustration during Scrabble is a simple beauty. I am quite drawn to each scene between those two. 

What was it about the story of The Girl with the Red Hair that drew you to it? 

ALEXANDRA: I think everyone can relate to the story in some way.  I am proud to be part of it because I think it brings awareness to mental illness and trauma. I think that it can help people who have suffered with those. 

OLIVIA: I was intrigued by what spurs us to open up to someone and how that varies based on life experience. There is indisputable care between each character, yet love (as a verb) is not always effectively or actively shared. It’s empowering to understand why that is and what must change to address it. 

You’ve been with the company, working on the role of Young Hayley for a while now. What have you learned through the process of script revision and rehearsal over that time? 

ALEXANDRA: I’ve learned how character’s stories can grow and change over time. It has been great to be part of the development of young Hayley and to watch her story grow since the first time I played her. Through the process I loved learning more about her.  

Azura tells Hayley she needs to get her roar back. What do you think she’s trying to say?

OLIVIA: She is worthy of overwhelming love. Azura wants to help her vocalize her needs and desires. She deserves to believe her voice will be heard just has she’s worthy of love.

What importance do you feel Young Hayley plays in the telling of Hayley’s story?

ALEXANDRA: I think young Hayley is very important to telling the story of Hayley because she shows how much trauma can change a person. Hayley is a regular kid and then what happens to her changes her. Having the younger character in scenes next to her older self shows the difference and helps us to understand the effect.  

Azura seems happy, yet aloof, with several memorable lines. Is there one line that sticks with you?

OLIVIA: Her assertion that her writing would be as lauded as Shakespeare is absurdly delightful to me. I’ve appreciated the challenges to find her earnesty. 

What is your favorite moment or scene in the story?

ALEXANDRA: My two favorite scenes I mentioned above. I also really like my monologue because I get to show that Hayley can also be funny. 

In one exchange with Hayley, Azura asks, “Why focus on the bad when there’s so much good?” In your opinion, is the road to healing that simple, or more difficult? Or somewhere in between?

OLIVIA: It’s certainly somewhere in between. Sometimes it really is that simple, though simplicity doesn’t equate to ease. There’s immense power in practicing gratitude in the seemingly mundane, in noting beauty amid pain. The notion can be dismissive, too, though. Some things are simply shitty and warrant processing as such. 

I started a doc in my notes app of “simple beautiful things” just before I auditioned for Girl and have kept it up ever since. I never considered it to be connected to my development of Azura until now. It’s not new practice for me. But I do think she’d approve.