The Wayward Women: Sarah Liz Bell
THE WAYWARD WOMEN opens March 17 at Mary’s Attic (5400 N Clark St)
SARAH LIZ BELL plays DAME ANU
Q: How long have you been in Chicago?
SARAH: “I just moved to Chicago in October after finishing my MA in Classical Acting at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA). I had a few friends in Chicago and wanted to keep those relationships going, so I came out here! I also felt, after visiting Chicago a few times through the years, that the Chicago Theatre Scene was very similar to London’s, which I fell in love with during my time there. You get the popular musicals and high-energy productions, but you also get the gritty, new, experimental works, and of course plenty of comedy, classics, and modern productions. There’s just so much here! It was the kind of work and community I knew I wanted to be a part of that brought me to Chicago.”
Q: What can you tell us about Dame Anu, the Black Knight?
SARAH: “Dame Anu is such an interesting character because of her clear contradictions. She is a valued Knight and skilled Fighter with very strict ideas about what is good and what is bad. She has very high morals and values honor and skill, but struggles so much with her own desires. I think she very much reflects a part of society that we still see today, where certain values are held high above others, simply for the fact that that’s the way it’s always been, not because they’re inherently right or wrong. Something like lust disgusts her, while killing someone for the sake of “honor” is a mere fact of life for her, and something she really makes a case for throughout the whole play. In a society that is recovering from a devastating war and attempting to move forward, Anu is very much archaic and stuck in the past, which makes for pure comedy when confronted with a new perspective—heads and swords will clash!”
Q: THE WAYWARD WOMEN is set on the fictional Island of Amosa, a matriarchal society. Does this differ much from other performances?
SARAH: “Amosa and this play differ very much from previous performances! I’ve played gender-bent roles quite a few times, so being in a more powerful and commanding position as a character isn’t new to me. But in all those roles—no matter how much we talked in rehearsals about “well am I a woman playing a man, or is this character now a woman who just behaves like a man, or is this a society in which women behave like what we would consider manly?” etc.—never have I actually played a WOMAN who is just a WOMAN in a higher status position within society. It’s interesting, because after all those times of “playing men”, I automatically fall into the wide-stance-chest-out-stern-look-on-the-face posture, deepening my voice, and behaving generally “manly” with Dame Anu. But through rehearsals it’s been interesting to explore how a WOMAN who is skilled at fighting, fights; how a WOMAN who has seen war behaves when confronted; how a WOMAN who is considered of higher status than those of the opposite sex treat members of that sex; what WOMANHOOD means to this society and how that is similar or different to my own feelings or society’s views. The results the audience see may be similar to how I would perform if I were playing a role written for a man, but to come at it from a different perspective has been challenging—and fun!”
Q: How much experience do you have with Elizabethan theater? Do you have a favorite play? Character?
SARAH: “I actually haven’t performed in anything past the Restoration Period in almost two years—so yes, I’m familiar! Shakespeare quickly became my passion in college, and the reason I went to London for my Master’s is because there’s no better place to study the Bard! My favorite Elizabethan play would probably have to be King Henry VI Part 3—I LOVE the Histories! And my favorite Character is easily Queen Margaret of Anjou. I actually did my Senior Thesis on her in college! While I love Beatrice’s wit and Rosalind’s romanticism and poetry, Queen Margaret’s passion, determination, and general badass-ary just make my heart swell anytime I read or perform her words!”
Q: Dame Anu probably participates in more combat than any other character (both as victim and perpetrator). Do you relate at all to this character, or is she a complete stranger to you?
SARAH: “In some ways I relate and in others I don’t. I’m not much of a confrontational person myself—don’t get me wrong, if someone gets in my face I will say something, sure. But I mostly try to see the situation from the other person’s perspective rather than get in an argument or physical confrontation. Everyone’s got a story you know nothing about, so be kind always! But when it comes to swords…OH MAN I LOVE SWORDS. Stage Combat is definitely something I’m passionate about! I actually did my Master’s Thesis at LAMDA on discovering combat choreography through character analysis–it was fascinating and a lot of fun! So I guess you could say I relate to Anu in that I JUMP at the chance to play with swords and other weapons! WOO FIGHTS.”
Q: Favorite line?
SARAH: “This Distillery that ambleth as a Woman.” =D
Come see Sarah play with Swords!
THE WAYWARD WOMEN
March 17 – April 2
Thursdays, Fridays, & Saturdays
Mary’s Attic, 5400 N Clark Street
$3 at the Door