Q&A: Venus In Fur

Carly Street talks about her sexy showdown with co-star Rick Miller in Canadian Stage's anticipated production

Presented by Canadian Stage
Written by David Ives
Directed by Jennifer Tarver

Passions are heating up for performer and Theatre 20 founding artist Carly Street as she prepares to star in Canadian Stage's production of Venus In Fur, the Tony Award-nominated play by David Ives, opening tonight night at the Bluma Appel Theatre.

Here, the accomplished performer talks about getting to know her provocative character Vanda Jordan, working alongside "master-storyteller" Rick Miller, and what she's learned along the way.

Theatromania: How would you describe David Ives' Venus In Fur in a sentence or two? 

CS: In an encounter between an actress desperate to be seen and a playwright who’s looking for his ideal, a woman challenges a man’s well-protected world-picture and her role within it.

Theatromania: Tell us about your character, Vanda. Can you relate to her at all?

CS: Vanda Jordan is the woman everyone is willing to write off; undereducated, tacky, graceless and trite. She is the bottom of the entertainment industry’s totem pole; the unappealing and unpolished actress. But beneath the rough surface, she has the heart and mind of someone who has lived long enough to understand what it is to be judged, and why the world shouldn’t write her off so soon. She has an indomitable spirit, and a streak of anger and revenge large enough to start a storm. To say that I have been an actress for 14 years is, in itself, a great jumping-off point for my empathy for this character. But deeper than that, I connect so deeply with her sense of humour, and her desire for the artist community to be a wiser, warmer and more receptive place for fierce and smart women. I have seen Vanda at auditions, I have met her in waiting rooms, I have listened to her stories, and at times… I have been her.

Theatromania: Is this your first time working with Rick Miller? What has been the highlight so far?

CS: Never worked with this fabulous man before, and I will be sorely disappointed if this is the last time I do. The first delight was in discovering how open and empathetic a man he is. He is one of the best listeners, both onstage and off that I have ever met, and he is willing to try anything if it means serving the story. He is witty, warm and clever, and fantastically playful to boot. He’s a master-storyteller, a charmer, a chameleon and an artist of extraordinary integrity. He is the kind of performer who you reminds you why you got into this business. Every day has been a highlight.

Theatromania: What are some of the challenges you've experienced?

CS: It has been very hard for me to separate some of my own more painful experiences in life from this story. I take this character, and this story, home with me each night. A challenge has come in trying to be objective about the piece itself, and not taking my fellow artists hostage in my pursuit what I believe the “truth” of this story is. I am my own challenge.

Theatromania: Have you learned anything new or significant?

CS: Our director, Jennifer Tarver, has illuminated how fuzzy and dangerous the lines between fiction and reality are: In our lives, in our work, and in our minds. Through her, and through the playwright, I have learned that… “We are all explicable. What we’re not is easily extricable”.

Theatromania: What do you hope audiences take away from this performance?

CS: I hope they’ll be rocked and unsettled by the ideas; roused and enraged by the arguments; thrilled and titillated by the complicated sexual cat-and-mouse of two worthy opponents. I hope they’ll leave the theatre wanting to fight, and then have some good, old-fashioned make-up sex.

Catch Carly Street as Vanga Jordan in Venus In Fur, opening Thursday October 3 at the Bluma Appel Theatre. Visit canadianstage.com for more information and to buy tickets.

Show Dates: 
Sun, 2013-09-29 - Sun, 2013-10-27


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