Raising the Bar: An Interview with Lauren Williams
Actress, Lauren Williams discusses her experience with dance and fight choreography on the stage. See her on the stage in Cabaret now thru Oct. 22.
You have a lot of experience with stage combat, including 9 weapon certifications with the Society of American Fight Directors, what drew you towards that part of theatre?
I have always been a mover since I was young, being pretty heavily involved in dance and martial arts up through college. I saw one of my friends doing a Peter Pan scene with two single swords and I thought that I really wanted to do that. So I’ve been doing it for about 9 years now.
Was it dangerous learning how to use prop weapons during your training?
We are basically taught to treat prop weapons as real weapons, so no pointing sharp points to the face, for instance. It’s primarily in learning to handle the prop safely while learning to be stylistic at the same time.
Do you feel like your experience with stage combat helped you when you pursued dance?
It’s actually the opposite. I’ve danced since I was a little girl and started martial arts after that. Where I had more love for the former, I wasn’t introduced to the idea of stage combat until I got to college. So, having been in those kinds of environments (choreographed, often partnered/ group routines), it’s like doing another dance for me. Except with a live(-ish) weapon.
You said the Philadelphia burlesque community practically prepared you for this role, what was your experience with it?
I started doing full-length theatrical burlesque shows with Walking Fish Theater before I started pursuing burlesque on my own. It’s a combination of having control of the audience and discovering what body positivity means to me. Once you’ve performed in pasties and a thong in front of people on multiple occasions, you kind of grow into it.
Do you prefer theatre productions with more dancing or more stage fighting?
I don’t really have a preference of one over the other. Whatever tells the best story is what I would gravitate towards more, and it’s never a singular answer. I hope to create something that incorporates both someday.
Do you prefer choreographing or being in the performance itself?
It’s a mixed bag. I like choreography because it gives me the opportunity to tell my own story, and I like performing for the same reason. If I could include myself in everything I do, I would.
What about Cabaret made you want to audition for this role?
It was a new opportunity that I honestly never thought I would get. A friend of mine forwarded me the audition information and I took a chance. I had also seen this play twice at Temple University and I really enjoyed both times. It’s nice that it’s a completely different version, as it should be.
What are you most excited for audiences to see when this show opens?
The feeling of being in the Kit Kat Klub. It feels so great to bring the audience into this world of “magic,” if you will, while at the same time getting a true dose of reality. The story is powerful and highly relevant to today.
What was your favorite role that you’ve played so far?
This is honestly my first of this caliber, and it is definitely one that requires the most endurance. It is exciting to be able to bring Rosie to life, and I can only hope for more roles that raise the bar later in life.
Lauren Williams (Rosie) Arden debut! Film/TV: Stuntwoman for Tamburlaine the Great; stuntwoman for Philadelphia, The Great Experiment. Training: Temple University, B.A. in Theater, Trained in Stage Combat in five different organizations around the world (SaFD, SaFDi, BASSC, NSFS, FDC).
Book by Joe Masteroff
Based on the play by John Van Druten and
Stories by Christopher Isherwood
Music by John Kander
Lyrics by Fred Ebb
Originally Co-directed and Choreographed by Rob Marshall and Directed by Sam Mendes
Directed by Matthew Decker
On the F. Otto Haas Stage
Now thru OCTOBER 22, 2017