Kate Eastwood Norris
appearing in Tom Stoppard’s Rock ‘N Roll at the Wilma, Philadelphia
In his recent visit to Philadelphia, Joel Markowitz caught up with Kate Eastwood Norris, the Helen Hayes Award winning actress whom Washington audiences have seen regularly in productions at Folger, Round House, and most recently at Woolly Mammoth.Kate married actor Cody Nickell this summer and is in the process of moving to New York.
She would be there already, she tells us, but along came the chance to play two roles in Tom Stoppard’s Rock ‘N Roll while Cody appeared in Shakespeare Theatre’s Romeo and Juliet.
Here she takes us through finding her two very different characters in Rock ‘N Roll, the makeup which helps her transform into Eleanor, a woman in the terminal stage of breast cancer, and connecting to Esme, Eleanor’s daughter, by listening to Pink Floyd, music both Esme and Kate like. “No matter of how tired I am of crying, which I have to do every day, I still want to go to work and I’ll feel really sad when this one is over..” The show closes October 26th.
Kate loves working in the Philadelphia theatre community because of the care they take of the performer, the friendships and really great artists’ housing . “They are so nice to me and to everybody “. If Philly were a character, she muses, they would be the cool uncle or aunt with maybe a scruffy past.
Kate is probably best known for playing Shakespeare. This is her first Stoppard play. How does Stoppard’s language compare? Joel asked this actor/writer. And which role does she most want to play?
And why take the risk of moving to New York when her career is so stable in Washington? “I get really bored staying in one place and I love to travel, and the anonymity of being an actress nobody necessarily knows in a very difficult role, is kinda helpful. It’s so free to work with people I haven’t worked with, and to go to places I have never been….”
It was her dual roles as Kay Fine and Jayne Summerhouse in Woolly Mammoth’s hysterical She Stoops to Comedy which both won her the Helen Hayes Award and brought her to the attention of Philadelphia directors. After rave reviews for her dual roles in Rock ‘N Roll, doubtlessly more east coast directors will be considering her. Fortunately, she has been named a Woolly Mammoth company member. Which means she’ll be back in Washington. Hopefully soon.