On Friday September 26 The Road Theatre Company is proud to present the opening weekend performances of Craig Wright’s Melissa Arctic on its second stage at the NoHo Senior Arts Colony on Magnolia. In the next several weeks we will be spotlighting members of the cast of the play. First up is guest actor to the Road, Taylor Coffman.
Taylor Coffman,a transplant from Washington, DC, has been working in LA in film,TV, and theatre. An Associate Artist with Rogue Artists Ensemble, she has been nominated for an LA Weekly Award for Best Comedy Ensemble for D is for Dog and appeared in Songs of Bilitis at the Getty Villa, and just back from performing HYPERBOLE:bard at Oregon Shakespeare Fest's Green Show. Recently, she has been filming the webseries Ruby & Martin, an official selection of the International TV Festival and a finalist in the NYTVF Comedy Central Pilot competition. Other performing/ writing credits include Stream (Kennedy Center Page to Stage Festival), DItch (Mutineer Theatre Co), Best of Craigslist (Hollywood Fringe), regionally in DC: ‘Hilda’ in Ibsen’s Lady from the Sea, ‘Thyona’ in Big Love, and ‘Juliet’ in Romeo & Juliet. She was also a fellow at the Folger Shakespeare Library in DC, studied in the advanced program at Upright Citizens Brigade, and worked in late night comedy for Jimmy Kimmel Live. Thanks to Scott & the Road team and Z. More info at www.taylorcoffman.com.
Taylor is understudying Mina in Melissa Arctic.
Tell me about your character.
Mina is based on Hermione from Shakespeare’s Winter’s Tale. The characters mirror each other as steadfast loving wives while being accused otherwise by their husbands. We see that Mina in the piece is a devoted wife and new mother trying her best to navigate her husband’s increasingly manic behavior. Without giving away too much, she is a literal portrait of a young Minnesota mother.
There is a lot about Mina left out of the narrative- so it’s been fun filling in the details. We see her at a time of stress, but it’s so clear she is loving, patient and kind. Her edges appear dulled as she tries to weather her way through her relatively newly challenged marriage.
I like Mina quite a bit as a person. She tries to make life better- she’s the kind of woman I’d like as a friend.
What do you feel she contributes to the play?
This is an interesting play because there is quite a time jump between acts like in The Winter’s Tale. In many ways, to me Mina serves as being the heart of the first Act. We’re dropped in the cold Minnesota winter- in a time where the chill is felt not only outside, but inside Leonard and Mina’s home and relationship. Through her, we see Leonard’s heart as well at a time where his actions seem harsh and confusing.
Mina’s hopes for her child and family are forever changed- and it’s hard not to empathize with the tragedy of such a loss.
How are you preparing for this role?
Well this is my first time understudying, so it’s been an interesting learning process. Luckily I’ve had the opportunity to work right with the main cast in scene work. It’s been so great to allow me to be able to develop my version of Mina. But I am very inspired by Laurie’s work and I hope the Mina I create is not too dissimilar from the Mina that Scott and Laurie are developing. I can contribute the truth of my own personal experience- but otherwise I’ve been thinking about the time, the world Craig Wright created in Minnesota, and really meditating on what it means to be a mother and the dream of creating a family. There isn’t much discussion in the play of Mina’s family in comparison to the other characters- so I see this as being her only unit. Leonard and Melissa are her entire family in my eyes- aside from her close friends The Lindys. So it’s incredibly challenging when she is faced with the conflicts of Act 1. I’m not a mother personally- I don’t carry that in me yet- but I know what it is to build a dream of a family. That’s incredibly accessible to me.
What do you think will be the audience reaction to the play and to your character?
It’s always hard to predict the audience’s reaction. I can only hope the audience can feel for her challenges- I feel for Mina. If I do my job, the audience will feel for her as well as she navigates this difficult situation.
What do you hope they will take away from the play?
I am not sure what others will say, but I hope the audience will hug their loved ones a little closer- the redemption the play offers can’t help but pull on your heartstrings. And maybe they’ll look at the Mona Lisa a little differently.