Sep 9, 2010

Oh, Lady Chiltern...An Ideal Husband

Oh, Lady Chiltern— you are so much more than what you appear to be...

As an actor, I've been incredibly fortunate to play some amazing characters over the years, but every once in a while, a role comes along that is not just a great character, but a fascinating challenge. Lady Gertrude Chiltern in Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband is one of those roles.

Right now my character work feels like an archeological dig—each day I make new discoveries that reveal a bit more of who she is as a whole. One of the exciting challenges of Lady Chiltern is that on first review, she seems quite one dimensional, one might even say boring. I would imagine there have been many productions in which she is played as nothing more than a pretty ornament, a woman whose written words are what she actually thinks and means. I am here to tell you she is anything but. She is terrifically complex—interesting subtext, rich history, underlying motivations—an actor's dream.

I don't know her well yet, but the puzzle pieces are beginning to come to together and what is being revealed is thrilling. And in many ways, what is being revealed is a mirror. Lady Chiltern and I are very similar. She is going to push me to reflect on my own beliefs, ideals, and desires and how those elements shaped my history and my marriage. She is going to change me an as person and as an actor. I can feel it and I can't wait.
--Kara Whitney

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