Photo Courtesy of Alfred Wong

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

KATIA: Eve is an incredibly passionate person who longs for true, deep human connection. Like many young adults her age, she has many insecurities that often eat at her; she doesn’t feel worthy or valid within her own body or mind, resulting in her searching for that validation from those around her, simply wanting to be wanted. Eve is a fiercely loyal person, once she decides she can trust you, she is all in. Passion, however, can manifest itself in radically different ways. Everything she feels, she feels intensely. Every moment, feeling, and thought is so much more magnified, this is something that can cloud her judgment and often result in extreme behaviors. At the end of the day, she so desperately longs for someone to care for her the way she cares for others, so much so that she would go to many lengths to experience this connection.

DELANO: Coury Lewis is a sweet, loving, caring, somewhat creepy, charming, and scared young man. I believe his only fuel is love and affection, without it he is literally nothing (well at least that’s what he believes). As a man, he feels he has not lived up to the required standards, which causes him to act out at times. 

Hayley’s journey is defined by constant struggle. As a society, we are only now beginning to place more emphasis on an individual’s mental health. What can we do to help people in these situations before they spiral out of control?

KATIA: We have come quite a long way from the constant shame and negative stigmas that have been put on those seriously struggling with their mental health. Of course, as a society, everything is constantly changing, it’s up to us to decide in what direction we want to take that change on. I think something as simple as listening to them, all they have to say, with zero judgment can make a whole difference. Oftentimes we can be so caught up in our own struggles and feel as if our world is the only one evolving. It is so common to feel as if you’re the only one going through tough seasons, even to go as far as to compare struggles. We can be a lot more self- centered than we’d care to admit. Switch perspectives for a moment, learn to listen to what the other person may need. If we can just take a step back and really listen to each other, empathize with one another and realize that everyone’s experiences are just as real as yours, just as valid as yours. Just because you may not understand what that person is going through does not make their struggles any less real. Sometimes all we need to get us through just a bit more is knowing that we are not alone in our journey. To accept someone for who they are in the state they are currently in; not the state they will “hopefully be in”, but meet them where they are at, and we’ll simply go from there. It’s a journey, I believe if you want to get further, go together

DELANO: I’d say just hear them out. I feel we tend to overreact out of fear and treat individuals as what they are feeling and not who they actually are. Sometimes people just want to know that their feelings are validated and it is okay to feel whatever they are feeling. I believe it makes them feel more like a human, rather than an illness.

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

KATIA: I resonate most with Hayley. She just encapsulates so many emotions and thoughts that have run across my mind at some point or another; as well as new questions that arise. The words she speaks are so raw. There are many instances when I just feel so seen through Hayley, especially in her monologues. She puts into words the exhaustion, fear, confusion, and curiosity I think we have all experienced in one way or another in discovering ourselves and the world around us. The want to escape, both metaphorically and physically is so real, and this play and character exhibits that in a way that makes you (at least in my own experience in watching) reflect on yourself and ask questions as to why. That’s it, just why? There’s a level of awareness that jumps out, one that hopefully leads to new discoveries and growth.

DELANO: I would say, Miss Pamela Jones. I believe we both want protection, but feel too ashamed to genuinely ask for it. Coury, being the only man in the show and Pamela being the only mother are two vital roles in society’s eyes that are seen as leaders. For a man to ask a woman for protection and a mother to ask her child for the same is something that would typically be looked down upon, especially given Hayley’s situation. 

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?

KATIA: A line that always sticks out to me is Dr. Watkins’ line to Hayley, 

“Sometimes, people need someone to look after them. Not because they’re weak or can’t do it for themselves, but because everyone deserves that.”

That line feels like a warm hug everytime I hear it. I think in our times, where hustle culture is so prevalent, and independence is worn like armor, we often feel as if we need to earn time off/rest. People are labeled as weak if they can’t do it all themselves, our time is wasted if we’re not spending every waking moment working towards the next big thing. If you are not producing something that could be helpful to someone else then you are useless. This one line takes all of that and throws it away. It’s a gentle reminder that we are worthy of love, kindness, and rest, simply because we are. We exist, we take up space, that alone is reason enough. You don’t need to have someone else decide that you are “weak” or “in need” in order to receive it.

DELANO: “Why are you afraid to love me?” is one of my favorite lines in the play. Love is hard to express or accept, but I feel it is something we all crave.

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

KATIA: This play is so special, and I don’t just say that because I’m in it! Haha, It doesn’t hold back. I think there are instances where we, as people, will censor ourselves for many reasons (some very necessary), often out of fear of how we may be perceived by others. This play is incredibly real and raw, I was taken aback by some of the scenes I read, I love when pieces of work just make me think, “oh wow, okay, we’re going there.” I laughed and I cried, as an audience, I don’t think we want to be too bombarded with so much heaviness that it becomes overwhelming to experience . There’s a lovely balance there that I really appreciated when first reading it.

DELANO: The initial thing that drew me to this play was the ability to take such a touchy topic and make it relatable, inciting, funny, suspenseful, heartbreaking, and eye-opening. A million things come to mind when you hear about a play in a mental hospital. Whatever you think this play is about, you will be so surprised, but so glad to know that you were so wrong. 

Eve serves a vital role in Hayley’s journey. How would you define their relationship?

KATIA: There’s a deep level of trust that evolves as they grow more at ease in each other’s presence. It’s a connection in which you are so drawn to a person, and you can’t quite put your finger on what it is. It’s thrilling at first, consuming, and you can’t help but to be transformed by them.  

Is there a moment or scene in Eve’s story that you feel best embodies the core of who she is?

KATIA: Oh absolutely. I don’t want to give too much away, but what I will say is that there is one scene where we see her let her guard down in a way she never has before. She, like every patient in the hospital, is battling her own demons, however what is unique to her experience is I believe she hides it more strategically than everyone else. This one scene serves as a window into the core of who she is, as well as what and why she so desperately tries to shield from those around her. I may have said too much already so I’ll leave it at that, haha.

When approaching a character like Eve, how do you balance the sensitive nature of her struggle with the need to portray it authentically?

KATIA: Something we discussed early on in the rehearsal process is that you can’t play a mental illness. You decipher what it is she wants in that specific moment, and how it is she is going to fight for that. In the process, we begin peeling back layer after layer in discovering who she is as a person, then how her state of mind affects her   in each scene. Finding it in the physical is vital, where everything manifests in the body definitely helps to ground myself into the moment. It’s an ongoing process, many hits and misses. These are all complex characters, many of which represent very real struggles we go through. There’s a sense of responsibility that comes with that, really in any role one plays, in portraying them as authentically as we can. Anthony has been amazing in ushering that journey.

Coury believes he has many clones throughout the story. What do you feel they represent? 

DELANO: I feel they represent our inner thoughts that can sometimes become overwhelming, causing us to feel the need to escape sometimes. I believe every clone is a piece of Coury whether it’s the good, the bad, or the paranoid. I also believe Coury wants to hide some of those clones from Hayley to create a better image for himself. 

Coury develops a close bond with Hayley, even professing at one point that he loves her. Do you feel he genuinely believes that?

DELANO: I think he loves the idea of having Hayley in his life because she treats him as a person. As hard as that is to believe, she does. She allows him to speak his mind, she is somewhat emotionally expressive with him, and she sets boundaries when necessary. I think Coury admires that about Hayley which causes him to believe he is in love with her, but I don’t think Coury knows what being in love truly feels like.

What do you believe Coury represents to Hayley?

DELANO: I believe Coury represents Hayley’s caution, but attempt to heal from men. I think Hayley wants to let Coury in, but the fear that he may hurt her is the main thing holding her back.