Who’s Playing at The Outer Loop?
You walk into the theater and sit down. The lights dim. The anticipation builds as you prepare for the ride. You hope to be taken out of your pedestrian life, and into the world of the play. The show begins. A few actors walk onstage, you follow the story. Maybe you enjoy it. Maybe you don’t. Maybe you start thinking about the laundry left undone or the groceries you need to buy. Maybe you’ve had a long day and you start to nod off, your eyes begin to close…
But then something happens. An actor steps onstage who is so magnetic… who so fully embodies a universal truth… that you snap into full alertness. You can’t keep your eyes off of this person. You forget about your grocery list and your pile of laundry. In fact, you forget you’re in a theater at all. You’re fully transported into the the world and the reality of this character. You laugh when they laugh. You cry when they cry. You feel what they feel. You understand their motivations and behavior. And then, as the play ends, that actor steps back onstage for the curtain call, and you’re reminded who this actor is.
Emily Vitrano is this actor.
You can’t quite put your finger on exactly what makes her different from the other actors onstage, but you can feel it in your bones… beneath your conscious thought… on some deep visceral level. She’s powerful and she’s truthful.
We were lucky enough to sit down with Emily recently and discuss her process and her craft. We think her answers will leave no question about what makes her a cut above the rest.
So Emily, what’s your art?
My art is theater. I am an actor first and foremost; also a teacher and a lifelong student. I believe there is magic that happens in theatre; in the coming together of a group of actors and a house full of strangers to discuss what it means to be human. I believe through this magic that we explore the majesty of the human experience. I am fascinated by human beings, by the study of character and humanity. The exploration of the dark and the light, the ugly and the beautiful within all of us, and the psychology behind why a character says and does what she does, when and to whom. And I am drawn to the opportunity to embody and live truthfully within the most fascinating, intense, exciting moments available to us as human beings. It is with this fascination that I approach the craft of acting and through it that I find purpose. To turn the mirror back on society, to challenge us to think differently, to see others differently, and to see ourselves as we may never have before; and in so doing, to affect someone, to change someone, to push someone slightly off-center. Thus, in my own small and humble way, striving to leave something of significance behind.
Where are you from?
I am very proud to be from Milwaukee, WI; land of craft beer, cheese curds so fresh they squeak, Midwestern work ethic and unshakeable local pride. The youngest of three, and the only girl, I learned early on that if I made my brothers laugh, the rest would work itself out.
Who or what are some of your inspirations?
I am inspired by pieces that stay with me long after I’ve seen or read them because they’ve challenged me in some way; challenged my thoughts, my beliefs, my truths and my doubts. I love flawed characters, those that are human, complicated and messy, and stories written with depth and layers. I love any piece of art that attempts to encapsulate the mess we are as individuals; our failures, our triumphs, the moments we hold on to and those that will haunt us the rest of our days. I love any artist who boldly and unapologetically attempts to explore what it means to be alive and to be human; the messier, the better. Tennessee Williams said he wrote as “a plea for the understanding of the delicate people.” I suppose this is ultimately what I am inspired by, what I am truly after. The opportunity to explore the delicacy of the human condition and to witness those artists who wish to do the same.
I am also deeply inspired by my nieces and nephews, all artists in their own ways. Watching them perform gives me the courage and the motivation to keep striving and working towards my goals. If I am ever scared or timid, I think of them and their bravery. They make me better.
So what are you working on now?
I am greatly looking forward to playing Jenny in A Small Fire at Next Act Theatre in Milwaukee, WI. I have the incredible opportunity to work with a team of artists I have long admired, on a script that is beautifully constructed and tragic in its honesty. I am also exploring, thinking on, writing about, developing work that explores love after divorce and what it means to be a woman of a certain age who is not what I was told I should be: a wife and a mother. What place do I hold in the fabric of our society and how can I, through my artistry, give voice to this experience? I don’t know what this will be, but I do know I have something to say.
Cool! Where can we see more?
A Small Fire runs at Next Act Theatre in Milwaukee, WI January 30-February 23, 2020. You can learn more about Next Act or purchase tickets at www.nextact.org. You can learn more about me on my website www.emilyvitrano.com or you can follow me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/emily.vitrano.9
Awesome, Emily! Now just for fun… what’s your favorite .gif, meme, or video clip?
Thank you so much, Emily! And thank you, Outer Loopers, for reading. Are you an artist? Would you like to be featured here? Or do you know someone amazing we should feature?
The Outer Loop returns to Tanzania this winter! Keep an eye out for updates on our projects bridging the U.S. and Tanzania.