MRS. HARRISON begins NEXT WEEK! Before you see the show, get to know its two lead actresses a little better. As usual, I asked them a few hard-hitting questions.
Cats, dogs, or rats?
Brandi Burgess: My cat, Bruce. He is a chatty gentleman who loves to snug and watch Bobby Flay.
Danielle Leneé: Dogs. All the way.
What role do you play in MRS. HARRISON?
Brandi: Holly Palmer.
Danielle: I play Aisha. A young, successful, black woman playwright.
Do you have any stories or experiences that you have never told anyone? Or just one person? Why keep these stories secret?
Brandi: I have very few secrets. I could probably learn to keep some things to myself. I grew up in a very public atmosphere where a lot of strangers knew what was happening in my life. My family also lives for the drama so we always were up in each other's messes. I usually have my heart in my hand, open to share. Which makes for a lot of authentic adventures and a high velocity of love, but also causes a lot of pain and vulnerability. I honestly can't think of one thing in my life that is a complete secret. I definitely have eaten dinner twice and kept that a secret. So, perhaps I keep carb-related secrets? I think secrets have an unfair reputation. Sometimes confession can be selfish. Secrets can provide empowerment, healing, transcendence, boundaries...I think this is a really interesting question, especially in relation to Mrs. Harrison. Sometimes I take the day off from work and don't tell anyone where I am. I usually spend those days in bed or going on self-care adventures. That's a nice feeling, disappearing for a bit and having no one to answer to. Living my loquacious truth now, better move on to the next question...
Danielle: I have some stories that I’ve shared with a select group of individuals. People who are extremely close to me and that I trust. I keep certain stories secret for many reasons. It could be personal, it could be embarrassing, it could be scary- you’ll never know.
The show presents some pretty profound questions about morality, and our identity and experiences — and your characters’ opinions differ. There must be times when you disagree, sometimes strongly, with your own character. How do you deal with that?
Brandi: I thought I was very different to Holly when this process began. I was almost blocked to her vulnerability, and quite judgmental of her. As I began to unpack her persona, I was startled and somewhat disturbed to find that we are similar in a LOT of ways. I will have a lot to reflect on with myself when the production closes. I think Holly went through the world thinking her brilliant brain would be enough to achieve her dreams, and has found that world doesn't work that way, and she's stuck on that. She is caught up in the injustice of her world and wants someone to blame. I think she also experienced something very tragic and didn't find healthy ways to process that. This play exists in a lot of huge philosophical questions, which I think lend themselves to "hot button" answers that tend to be black and white. However, Eric has brilliantly laced in deeply personal trauma and the unavoidable fogginess of singular and shared memories, which make a lot of the ethics land in an uncomfortable grayscale. It is really fun and terrifying to live in that space for this play.
Danielle: I don’t have a lot of moments where I strongly disagree completely with my character. However, there are moments that my character responds to something in a way where I, personally, would have responded differently. I love when this happens. It allows you to step into someone else’s shoes and with empathy tell their story, truthfully. I have to check my own personal feelings and tell the story on the page.
If you could have a favorite writer or director be in charge of staging/scribing your story, who would you choose?
Brandi: Lol is this a trick question? OBVI R. Eric Thomas and Kevin Glaccum.
Danielle: Is this a trick question - I love my team. I wouldn’t have it any other way!
What’s something you’re afraid of?
Brandi: Losing my mind.
Danielle: Snakes and rats. Although, if I had to chose between the two I’d prefer snakes over a rat. Any day.
Reserve your tickets for MRS. HARRISON today; we hope to see you at the theatre -- so soon!