We asked actor Kelly Helgeson about her role in Honest Theatre's Two Rooms. Check out her responses!
HT: Why did you want to be involved in this production?
K: This play seems very relevant for today's audiences. With terrorist bombings happening almost daily around the world we are constantly bombarded by images and stories of horror. This script looks at occurrences like these through a more personal perspective. And any time I can work with Honest Theatre, I jump at the chance!
HT: What do you hate about this character? Is it easier to play this character or to be yourself on stage?
K: Perhaps it's because I can relate, but I hate Lainie's indecisiveness! Should she speak out? Should she stay quiet? Just decide already! But with her husband's life literally hanging in the balance I suppose I can cut her some slack. :) As a rather shy person, I've always had a harder time being myself on stage rather than a character, so I would say it's easier being Lainie! Though who I am definitely informs Lainie's character.
(Barbara - boom)
"The food is gone, the air is thin, what oh what are we gonna do?"
Three weeks in and rehearsals are happening and a cast of three weirdos is attempting to deal with the end of their worlds. This would seem daunting to any normal person but when your playing Barbara you cant help but be positive. Barbara is the eternal optimist, she is the curator of an exhibit all about the end of the world, and she LOVES it. She likes the idea that these two people are struggling against the odds to live, to survive. She, herself, is also struggling against the odds to keep the exhibit going. The management has decided to shut it down and she sees her world ending. This is a story that is so important to her that it has become her world. Still through all of her personal struggles she keeps going, she keeps positive, because she needs to share this story with the world.
I feel her infectious spirit throughout my day. Even when the rain pours, even when I want to go home but I have five more hours in my workday, even when I have to walk up four flights of stairs to get to rehearsal. I feel a little more positive about it all, because look what I’ve accomplished! Look how I’ve improved my day! How many characters that I’ve played can I say that about? Not many unfortunately.
Not to say that playing Barbara is easy. Being that positive all the time in rehearsals is exhausting. Rehearsals come with their own set of frustrations, after all, but if Barbara was in my shoes, she would love it. The drama for survival! So as tech week approaches we keep pushing, and keep playing, and hopefully don’t lose the positive spirit that Barbara instills in all of us. I, like Barbara, love this story so much and I can’t wait to share it with the world. I hope everyone finds its as fascinating as I do.
(Estelle - No Exit)
A girl is put into a room with two other people. She has never met them before and she will never again see anyone else other than these two. Yet, she needs something from them. She needs approval. She needs validation. She needs to be told she is beautiful, valuable, and desired, but based solely on the superficial – her looks. These strangers must serve as her mirrors. She invites them to be her worshippers and her judge, her esteem and her torment. She thinks if she is valuable from the outside it will overcome any imperfections and insecurities on the inside. Eventually, the girl is able to obtain all of this from one of the two people, but not from the other – not from the one she desires. The approval received is from the one whose opinion she does not value. It is not enough. She wants to be accepted by the one that she deems as worthy to approve her, and will not relent until she has it.
Sound familiar? Remind you a bit of high school? We all do this in some way or another, and not just as adolescents. We like to think we’ve grown and matured past that point, and yet in so many ways we still ask others for validation, in ways both conscious and unconscious. Surely, we reason, if we put our best selves out there by buying the right things, getting the perfect career, and broadcasting pictures, details, and actions that make us look meaningful, we will be just that.
What happens when we supposedly receive validation from this? As long as this approval comes from the right people, not those deemed by us as social outcasts or misfits, we feel good about ourselves. But it doesn't last. It is never enough. It wanes. Then like a drug, we have to keep coming back for more. Our identity becomes wrapped up in the opinions of others who are looking to you to sanction them in the same way.
So, the questions I hope this story provokes are: what do we use as mirrors in our own lives? What do we use to determine our worth? Why do we constantly seek to be commended by others? Why is it that we must keep going back for more? Why is it never enough? And finally, where is the place we can find true validation and who is the one in which we can find our true identity?
I have an answer for the last question, yet I still find myself caught up in the cycle at times. My hope is that this story will cause these questions to arise and then we can help each other shift our way of thinking so that we accept each other and ourselves for the way we were fearfully and wonderfully made.
(Inez - No Exit)
What a week! We’ve now officially had our first full week of on-our-feet rehearsals and I couldn’t be more excited to keep working on this show.
It’s been an interesting process in many ways. First off – we’re rehearsing in the director’s living room. Each day the furniture is pushed back, the stage pieces set, and the dog treats stockpiled. (Winston is the name of the director’s dog; he likes to sit in on rehearsals but has to be tempted away from venturing into the center of things by treats and squeak toys. It makes for an interesting rehearsal.) It’s not entirely new to me, this concept of in-house rehearsals, but it is my first time experiencing it as an actor. It’s like I get to go on an adventure every day we have rehearsal – traveling downtown to this modest apartment where I wonder what exactly the neighbors think when I’m yelling out things like, “You have robbed me of my face!” This week alone I dodged Blackhawks fans both pre and post Stanley Cup, inebriated train people, bossy street people, flash floods, tornado warnings, and not-so-small puddle-lakes, blisters on both feet, and the occasional missed meal, all on my journeys to and from rehearsal. And honestly, I don’t think I’d change a thing. I love being an actor! I love this kind of process! And I am sincerely learning to love this show!
That may seem a little strange to some, as this show is about three people who find themselves in Hell, but, really, when are you going to find a character more raw and truthful? When they’ve “finally finished with the earth” and have nothing more to do or say. When they are at their rope’s end, when else do we get such a close look at the heart of a person?
We’ve been talking a lot about motivation for our characters which has been more challenging for this show, the character of Inez in particular, than for any other show I’ve ever been in. When you find yourself in Hell, when you know what to expect and know that there will be no end to it, what do you fix your eyes on? What could you possibly want that would motivate you to do anything? I don’t have an answer for this question yet. We throw around words like salvation and redemption, but can such things be found in hell? Once you’re damned what kind of absolution can you truthfully expect to find? But maybe that’s a part of Hell – always searching and fighting for the salvation that you can never reach.
At any rate the question itself is an easy motivator for the work. I am beyond excited to see what the next few weeks will bring for this show, both in and outside the rehearsal space. And I sincerely hope that everyone who can will make an effort to come see this show – pretty sure it’ll blow you outta the water. How’s that for motivation? ;)
(Valet - No Exit)
This week I delivered three people into hell. This is not a thing I ever thought I'd say. It's an interesting prospect. I think I'll give it up after the show closes.
This week we delved deeply into the motivations of the valet in rehearsals. It would be very easy to approach this role as an errand boy doing his job and moving on but that would be a less than interesting approach.
What motivates him? Why does he do what he does? Why is he so obviously pleased to be doing the work he does in hell? What does he need from these people to continue to be satisfied?
I am not a fan of spoilers so I won't tell you. You'll have to come see this brilliant cast perform Sartre's most well known play to find out. See you at the show!
Our work is young, and all good things must start somewhere. We are asking that in the coming weeks you might consider donating any amount you see fit in order to help us get to our feet for the journey ahead.
We opened our very first production on June 6, 2014 at Northwestern University's Mussetter-Strubel Theatrewith Teresa Rebeck’s provocative comedy Spike Heels -a production in which Chicago Examiner reviewer Jodie Jacobs said "everything works to perfection." We are now looking to our second production of the season, JohnKolvenbach's Love Song, praised by the Chicago Sun-Times as "...the stuff of pure theatre. It's language, relationships, imagery and overall worldview are deeply rooted in the hothouse atmosphere of that most intimate and fantastical forum." It opens October 24, 2014 at Northwestern University's Hal and Martha HyerWallis Theatre.
Creating such fantasies of course requires a modest amount of financial support. Theatre space rentals for the length of the production range from $1600 - $2,000, $1500 for technical elements, $1000 for marketing, $700 for rights, and $500 for costuming. Being a new company, we have established a much small goal for our campaign in hopes of meeting it and keeping a larger percentage, (you get to keep all the funds you raise, but if you don't meet your goal, you keep a smaller percentage). Realistically, $6000 would be the ideal amount to raise in order to cover the necessary expenses. Anything above and beyond puts us on a great path toward our exciting 2015 season, to be announced this December!
While many give simply for the joy, it is always nice to receive something in return. While we are a non-profit organization, currently in the process of applying for 501(c)(3) status, we have given much consideration to providing perks that reward various levels of generosity by making you a part of our community. While some perks are material, such as works of art or signed posters and programs, there also various experiences available, including reserved premium seating, personal access to cast and crew, and accommodations for trips to see our show!
Visit THIS PAGE for more information on our Indiegogo campaign!
Company members have pooled their extra swag and will be holding a super awesome yardsale extravaganza on Saturday the 20th of September. The fun will happen at 2418 Wade Street in Evanston, IL. Anything not sold will be donated. Come out and meet the members of Honest; we'd love to chat with you. See you there!
The fantastic Glenwood Bar at the Morse Red Line stop is teaming up with Honest again this month, July 27th at 9:00PM! Come out for a unique and hilarious time as Honest Theatre company members improvise dubbed lines to the 1951 Sci-Fi hit FLIGHT TO MARS! The film will be projected onto a screen and you can relax, watch, and listen to the comic stylings of Sharon Biermann, Tory Helgeson, and others! There is a suggested donation of $10. Don't miss it!
Honest's maiden productions draws near; Spike Heels is coming to the Northwestern University Evanston campus this June 6-8 and 13-15! Chicagoans should be excited; just about every person involved in this production is an MFA in Acting/Directing and cannot wait to share this story.
Theresa Rebeck's Spike Heels is a fun, sexy romp that also delves deeply into classism and gender roles. Language and adult themes make this show unsuitable for children, but adults of all ages will recognize themselves and others in the story and characters.
And the best part? Admission is free! Just show up and grab a seat. If you like what you saw and are moved to give, that's great! Our stories are our gift to you.
Honest is selling ad space right now in our programs, so if you would like your business to appear in them, now's the time to speak up! Hundreds of people will be viewing these programs over the course of the run, so it's a smart one-time investment.
Also, be on the look-out soon for the announcement of a sneaky side project that'll have you splitting your sides with laughter. This will be an original pop-up production in outdoor venues throughout Chicago and it's fun, fun, fun for all ages!
Some great things are coming, folks. See you there.
Managing Director, Honest Theatre
Attention, Chicagoans! Honest is having another fundraiser on the eve of April 17th at 8:00 PM to 11:00 PM. There will be a karaoke contest, another one of our fantastic silent auctions, a rousing game of Bingo, and an awesome raffle!
There is a $15 cover, which buys you two well drinks, sliders and chips. Come out and support this wonderful company as we flap our proverbial wings and prepare to zoom off into the creative world of live Chicago theater - that is, to present our first EVER. SHOW. THIS JUNE!