Thursday, January 23, 2014

BACT Spotlight On - Actor

In just a few days, Mercy Watson to the Rescue opens at the Freight & Salvage. This show is based upon the popular Kate DiCamillo book series, and features a loveable pig named Mercy who loves buttered toast. For this blog post, we got to interview the actor behind the pig, Patricia Austin.


BACT: How did you begin getting involved with theatre?

Patricia: I have been doing some sort of theatre since I was wee: School plays, Christmas pageants, children's choir. But my first real audition was in the 5th grade for the Sound of Music with Little Town Players in Bedford, VA. I played Gretl and had the time of my life.  

BACT: Is theatre your main job, or do you have another job as well?

Patricia: I have ALWAYS had some sort of day job from waitressing to admin work until this past August.  Now I teach, costume and act. I still cobble things together, hustle for work and my calendar looks like a game of Tetris, but the work is all theatre-related and that makes me very happy.

BACT: What drew you to audition for Mercy Watson?

Patricia: I knew that BACT was having their generals but wasn't sure which show I wanted to focus on.  Then Melissa, the casting director, asked me to come in for Mercy Watson.  I read the play and the first book, and just went for it.  

BACT: Had you done children's theatre before this? 

Patricia: I came to the Bay Area from Chicago where I did a fair amount of children's theatre. My first production with BACT was The True Story of The Three Little Pigs.  Another pig role.  So maybe I have a calling for Children's stories about pigs?  Hmmmm . . .

BACT: Well, we're glad to have you playing this porcine wonder! How would you describe Mercy Watson? 

Patricia: I think she is a lovable character who LOVES!  She loves her family, she loves adventure and meeting new people, but most of all she LOVES TOAST? 

BACT: How are you similar to her?

Patricia: [I share] Her sense of play and adventure.  We also share a love for toast.  I just prefer mine with jam.

BACT: What is the best part about playing Mercy Watson? What challenges did you encounter? 

Patricia: The best part about playing Mercy Watson is that she is a lot of fun. She is high-energy and physical, and she is definitely not afraid. The biggest challenge at first was to figure out what Mercy means when she says "butter"or "toast"or "cookie".  Does she really want butter and toast all the time or is she also trying to convey other things using a limited vocabulary? So, early in the rehearsal process we made certain distinctions about when it was actually toast or when it was really something else.

BACT: Is it easy or difficult playing an animal character?

Patricia: Hmmmm.  I would say that that playing an animal character is more physically driven than textually driven, especially Mercy.  But as far as easier or hard I don't know.  You still have to make them real. And you still have to make people care about them.  So in the end, you still have the same challenges as when you are playing people.

BACT: What do you hope kids and their families take away from watching Mercy Watson to the Rescue.

Patricia: A deep and abiding love of toast!  And butter.  And live theatre!

BACT: Got any fun behind-the-scene stories?

Patricia: This cast and crew are the best! We have a lot of fun and are still collecting stories.  Early on in rehearsal we would crack each other up so much (from our "schmackting") that at the end of whatever scene we were rehearsing we would lovingly say "all the awards." 
BACT: If you're having that much fun in rehearsals, it sounds like we're in for a fun show! Thank you so much for your time!

Tickets for Mercy Watson to the Rescue are on sale now at our website!

1 comment:

  1. Hey! Well done, Trish - wish I could go and see it :). Come to Brisbane! Maeve