Thursday, August 9, 2012

Kamikaze: The Pre-funk Interviews Part 4: Hana Lass

Ooooh kids.. it's finally here. Thursday. The draw is tonight! I opened up Facebook this morning and the first status I read was from Aimée Bruneau who said, "If you harnessed the nerves of all the 14/48 Kamikaze participants, you'd likely power the city for the weekend. IT'S PALPABLE! SHIT'S GOT REAL TENSE!" Everyone's heart rate should be accelerating right now. If yours isn't, you should be checked for a pulse. If the collective anticipation in that theater tonight hasn't built up to the point where everyone practically jumps out of their pants when the first name is called like the people in that video of the NASA room when they landed the rover on Mars, it should be pretty close. I'm sure someone will eventually lose their pants on stage anyway. It usually goes that way in at least one play. The keg will be tapped, some nerves will steady, we'll ooh and ahh and we'll raise our party cups to toast the magic that's about to be made by these incredibly talented artists. 

Our last Kamikaze pre-funk subject didn't seem at all nervous though. The charming and Basil-revered Hana Lass (another artist I'd never met - what, have I been living under a rock?) met with Truman and me to tell us what she thinks about participating in this 14/48 Kamikaze madness.

How long have you been acting in Seattle (assuming that's your focus)?

"I've been in Seattle for a dozen years and definitely have been trying to make my way as an actor. I’m doing alright. I'm not complaining. I think you always hunger for more and I'm certainly very, very fortunate. I've worked at Children's, Seattle Shakes, and I'll be debuting at The Village this spring, which I’m looking forward to. I'm just one of those freelance, workhorse actors that will pretty much sell my soul to get into a show." [Laughing as she admits that]

How many times have you been invited to participate in 14/48?

"I've been invited many times. I've only done about four I think and was a blogger for one as well, which was really fun."

What’s your favorite thing about it?

"There’s something about it that captures the perfect spirit of what I think everyone who does theater hopes theater will be. You can’t be involved with 14/48 and be a diva. You can hope for perfection but that’s not the main goal and there’s a generosity of spirit that everyone has that's involved. Everyone's literally a volunteer and, in that sense, it's pure art. There's nothing to be gained out of it except making something in that moment that hopefully the entire room thinks is significant and special. That's another thing: the audiences are the best audiences. They're your dream audience. They show up to be generous, open, to laugh and listen, be surprised.. drunk. That always helps. So there’s nothing to dislike about it, except maybe losing a few hours of sleep and gaining a few white hairs."

What’s the hardest part?

"I think certainly for me, and people who know me will know this is true, is letting go of the idea of perfection. Just saying yes. But the great thing is you just don’t have time to worry about that. There's that survival aspect of it that makes people be their best selves or else as a result of the fight-or-flight instinct, you get to experience things from individuals that you never knew they had."

Have you participated only as an actor? What was your favorite role?

"I've only ever been an actor in 14/48. I really loved playing this housewife written by Kelleen Conway Blanchard. She’s such a fantastic playwright and Erin Kraft did an amazing job directing it. It was just the kind of role I’d never get cast in, certainly not for 20 years, so it was a thrilling treat to do. I think that’s one of the great joys of 14/48: that because of the randomness of it, you get the opportunity to get out of your pigeon hole. I was the only female in that cast so I had to play the role. It was a treat to 'shoe-into' it."

What discipline do you hope to draw out of the Kamikaze hat?

"The coward in me hopes to be an actor because that’s my comfort zone. So I can have some security in that. I think the curious part of me would like to do the band not because I have any particular instrumental skills, but because I can’t wait to hear what comes out of that random assortment. Because the band is one of the few things in 14/48 that's set so getting just a bunch of random people together.. I can’t wait to see what they come up with, with only spit and will."

Which discipline would you like the least?

[Big sigh] "I have the most trepidations about getting drawn for writing because in my opinion,  and I know in others as well, 14/48 is really a playwrights' festival and the success of any given play is largely dependent upon the quality of the writing. There are other factors involved, but the writing is the biggest. And with writing, you're on your own. Pretty much every other element of the festival is collaborative and the playwright has to go home in the middle of the night and just make magic happen. So that terrifies me."

If you were drawn for writing, who would you want to call at 3am when you're stumped?

"I'd probably give Paul Mullin a call since I know him. Once he starts talking he won’t shut up so I'd pretty much put it on speaker phone and let the ideas roll. I have faith in him as a playwright and I know from personal experience that he knows what he’s talking about. Like I said, I love Kelleen’s work, not that I know her personally, but I've loved acting in her stuff and watching her plays. She’s also that kind of writer.. she has that quality that I know I definitely don't have, which is just a gift for imagery. That’s something you can’t teach. There's no manual for talent."

Of the veterans chosen for this 14/48, who are you dying to work with?

We relayed Basil's praises about her.

"I can't say it now because he's apparently sung me to the rafters so it's going to only sound like payback, but in any capacity, I’d want Basil on my team. He's one of my theater soul mates. He’s one of those people you really want in your 14/48 show. He's a master of turning shit into gold and gold into comic radioactive material. And regardless, I’m really looking forward to seeing what he does. I’d be thrilled to work with Jamie Roberts. She's an old college friend of mine. I've seen her work in several capacities at 14/48. She blows my mind and she's also kind of the nicest person in the world. John Farrage also. He's just a funny, passionate, talented man, multi-talented. I'm looking forward to seeing what he brings to the festival and how he gets assigned."

So on Saturday night at 1am, at the end of the last show, what do you think you'll take away from all this?

"My hope would be that I have a renewed faith in all of the talents of this community and a new inspiration for what my peers and I are capable of. I think it’s such a fantastic opportunity for all of us to be thrown into this position and obviously it’s not going to be the same to be hired as something you’re not used to doing. It's its own thing, but I suspect it could be a jumping off point for a lot of individuals. Because when it comes down to it, sometimes you just need permission to do something you always secretly wanted to do."

With just a handful of hours away and the real party about to start, what discipline do YOU secretly wish to draw? Who do you want in your dream cast? In the band? It won't be long until we all find out. I'm practically salivating.

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