Next in our series of interviews with Bright Invention ensemble members is Katherine Perry. Katherine is a Philadelphia based actor and teaching artist, a company member of Simpatico Theatre Project, and a teacher with Theatre Horizon in their after school and Autism Drama Outreach programming. Katherine graduated from Lehigh University with a BA in Psychology and Theatre and has studied with the British American Drama Academy. Things that make her happy: bourbon, dogs, and minty fresh breath. Pet peeves: when someone's nose whistles with each exhale aka nose flute - gross.
As an original company member of Bright Invention, what has been the best part of the process of building this ensemble and getting to know the people you work with?
The people! Going into the first few rehearsals I knew only a few members of the ensemble, but not really well. When working on a play you get to build up a rapport with your cast mates, but as soon as the rehearsal and performances are over you will never be in the same room with that exact configuration of actors again. There's a small grieving process when a show ends, especially if you have been a part of a very close cast.
With Bright Invention we get to evolve together as an ensemble. As cheesy as it may sound there is a strong family dynamic. I look to other ensemble members for advice in my personal and professional life. We share the ups and downs of our days each week and support one another with our whole hearts both on the improv stage and off. It is amazing. I would probably never have the chance to work with the majority of ensemble members in a traditional production. There is no play in existence that could encompass all of the types that make up Bright Invention - in the improv world anything goes! The energy in the ensemble is quite electric - we all work together so well and are excited to get to play together every week. This is often said in our rehearsals, but some days I will walk in not feeling up to rehearsing at all. I'm tired, I had a stressful day, I'm just not in the mood to interact with people...magically after just a few minutes of walking into White Pines Place and being welcomed by the warmth from the ensemble I am ready to create!
You just finished teaching a musical theatre class as a part of White Pines’ first session of classes. Did teaching the kids of the Elkins Park community surprise and/or challenge you?
We had such a great time with the inaugural Musical Theatre Class! One of the challenges with the class was that the age range of students spanned from 6 years to 12 years old so as a teacher I was conscious of choosing material appropriate for all students. The older students were quick to help out any of the younger members of the class with choreography and lyrics without me having to ask them which is always a lovely thing to see. In just six class meetings we were able to create a performance of two full musical numbers. One of my favorite parts of the class is when, during the final performance, one of the youngest students helped her older brother (who had missed some class time) by guiding him around the stage and showing him the dance moves in the middle of a song. It was a hilarious and touching moment.
Are you teaching any other classes that we should be excited about?
This summer I am trying out some master classes where students come in and learn an entire number in one day from start to finish. I am very excited about this because it allows me to structure the day similar to a professional rehearsal environment where we are focused on one universal goal of learning, staging, and performing a number. It is a great window into the discipline that actors have in the rehearsal room without being too overwhelming for a younger student.
In the fall we will be starting up the multi-week musical theatre classes so I am looking forward to seeing some familiar students in class and meeting some new ones as we continue to create together!
Right now, the show Bright Invention performs is “Click,” which uses audience-provided photos to inspire improvised theatre. What has been the most memorable photo that you’ve pulled out of the basket during a show?
While I cannot recall any specific photographs I do remember moments during scenes rather than their origin. Each improviser works differently. Once I see a photo I jump off to the scene so it's hard for me to hold on to the specifics of the actual picture. That's what's really cool about the kind of work we do - it's so temporary, and what sticks in your mind are really distinct and interesting moments that will totally differ from person to person.
For more information on Katherine's master classes.
Look out for more interviews from inside Bright Invention: The White Pines Ensemble. Next up, Jennifer MacMillan and an inside scoop on our new form!
Interview by: Randi Hickey (Company/Stage Management Intern)