Meet Meghan Grady
Appearing in Speed-The-Plow
One in a continuing series on Knockout Performances
By Joel Markowitz
On Thursday, October 25th, I witnessed one of those rare nights in the theatre where a young actress had the audience eating out of her hands, or in this case – book.
Who is that scene stealing actress who is strutting across the Goldman Theatre stage and making putty out of a Hollywood producer in Theater J’s production of David Mamet’s biting look at Tinseltown – Speed-The-Plow? I had to speak to this actress to find out who she is and give her – as the book’s title suggests – some exposure.
Joel: Tell us about your character in Speed-The-Plow.
Meghan: Karen is a young idealist trying to make something of her life. She is smart, but her lack of experience makes her appear a bit ditzy at times. She is direct, passionate, honest and well-meaning.
Joel: How much of you is in this character?
Meghan: I think there is a great deal of me in the character. Like Karen, I too am trying to make my mark in a sometimes taxing and unfair business. I find myself trying to hold my own with my more experienced brethren, only to realize that I still have a lot to learn. I’m often frustrated with my unexpected bouts of naivety.
Joel: What life experiences did you bring to performing this character?
Meghan: The fact that I am a young inexperienced actress working in the company of true pros creates a certain anxiety in me that worked well with this character.
Joel: What’s it like to work with two Broadway vets – Peter Birkenhead
and Danton Stone?
Meghan: I can’t tell you how much fun I have with these guys! I was really intimidated at first, but the process has been a complete joy. I am literally laughing 90% of the time off stage, and on stage there are definitely moments that I feel like I might break. Just watching them work has been a learning experience for me. Throughout rehearsals they were completely open and willing to play, and now in performance they are still finding new things. Not only are they smart actors, but they know how to activate that intelligence organically on the stage. That is hard to find. Man, I love those guys.
Joel: Talk about the Second Act scene when you are trying to get the studio head to make your book into a movie.
Meghan: Well, that scene was quite a challenge for me. When I first read it I was terrified, but at the same time I fell in love with it. Karen has these longwinded rants about the book, radiation, God, love, fear, purity, and the end of the world. Her thoughts are hard to follow, and to the audience they probably don’t make much sense. As an actor, my job was to not only make sense of this gibberish, but to believe in it whole heartedly. So, that’s what I did. I started working on this role in April before I was officially cast in the show. (that’s how bad I wanted it) Many of Karen’s ideas spoke to me right off the bat, and I connected with her instantly. If everyone looked at the world the way she does, it may not be a better place, but at least everyone would be a little happier.
Joel: Have you ever read a book about radiation?
Meghan: No, actually, I have not.
Joel: How long did it take you to learn those lines and were Danton and Director Jerry Whiddon helpful?.
Meghan: Like I said, I started studying in April before the audition, and haven’t really stopped. Jerry helped in all the best ways a director can help. He supported my choices and redirected me when I started to veer off track. I think we ended up having a very similar vision of who Karen is. Danton is the best scene partner an actor could hope for. He makes a true connection. He jumps on the crazy Mamet roller coaster with you without hesitation and rides it all the way to the end.
Joel: You have performed at Theater J before. Would you tell us about that experience?
Meghan: I played the mentally ill sister-in-law in Either, Or last spring, and had a marvelous time with that show as well. I guess it’s strange to say that it was a marvelous time when I was getting carted away in a strait jacket every night, but it’s true. They are good people at the J. I am so thankful that Ari gave me a chance last season. All of this is reality because he gave me a chance.
Joel: Where did you grow up and where did you get your theatre training/education?
Meghan: I was born in Queens, NY, but I mostly grew up in Richmond, VA. I have a BFA in theatre from Virginia Commonwealth University.
Joel: What was the first play and role that you appeared in?
Meghan: I played a prince in a school play when I was 12. Professionally, I played Dawn in Lobby Hero at Theater Gym in Richmond, VA.
Joel: Please talk about your other local performances and other theatres
where you have performed?
Meghan: I’m a company member for Synetic Theater, so all of my other local work has been for them. You might have seen me in Macbeth, Frankenstein, Faust, or The Dybbuk (Co-production with Theater J).
Joel: What do you think about the local theatre community?
Meghan: I think this is an awesome theater town. I moved here two years ago thinking I would be going to New York within a year, but I can’t seem to tear myself away now. I’m having too much fun.
Joel: Which was your favorite role and which one was your least favorite?
Meghan: Karen in Plow is now one of my favorites…but I’m not sure I could chose one. Every time I’m in a show I think “I am so freakin’ lucky to be doing the thing I love the most.”
Joel: What’s next for you?
Meghan: Next is Stuff Happens at Olney Theater in summer 2008…unless something else comes up between now and then…Oh, and a nice vacation to some place warm and beachy. That is a must. I haven’t had a true vacation in 2 years!