This is Evelyn O’Neal Brush’s first appearance on our stage and we’re delighted to have her! Originally from Dallas, Texas (we forgive her), Evelyn has been making the rounds in Nashville theater in recent years. You might have seen her onstage with the Street Theatre Company, the Boiler Room Theater and the Blackbird Theater, among others (you might have even seen her on TV). We’re thrilled she could join us for Much Ado About Nothing and couldn’t imagine a better Beatrice for this production.
Interview conducted by Marketing and Development Intern Blythe Cate. Emoticons are all Evelyn!
Role in Much Ado: Beatrice
What is your favorite Shakespeare play?
Funny enough, it’s this one! Much Ado About Nothing has always been at the top of my list. I have always loved Beatrice’s strong sense of humor and high level of intelligence, so playing this role in this show is a dream come true. I find the show itself is really accessible, too — easy to understand, heartfelt, and very funny on so many levels.
Where do you find inspiration?
All around me — I love observing things and people wherever I go. I particularly find my fellow actors inspirational — their work ethic, their methods, their choices, quirks, & strengths. My son (almost 4 years old) is extremely inspirational — so unfettered from adult inhibitions or the traps that adult logic can bring. His creativity and compassion astound me!
What does it take to be a great actor?
Not that I feel qualified to answer this question, but I will tell you what I see in the actors I admire: they take risks onstage, are willing to create moments of real vulnerability, they listen / pay attention to the world they’re inhabiting, and they are always pushing themselves to learn more and grow as actors and as people. They don’t make the show about their performance — they focus on telling the story.
What is your most marked characteristic?
One might be my laugh. It’s kinda loud, and I have very little control over it. 🙂
What talent would you most like to have?
I would LOVE to be a trained dancer! Or a synchronized swimmer. Or have a proficiency in several languages.
Who would you like to engage in conversation (living or dead)?
My mom — she’s been gone for 8 years — I miss her so!
Which Shakespeare character would you most like to play?
I would most like to play Lady Macbeth. What a challenge that would be!
And which do you most identify with?
I may actually identify most with Beatrice (again with the dream role!). She’s pretty sassy, but underneath her protective exterior is a woman who longs to be loved and who believes in romance, in spite of the big independent show she puts on for everyone.
What is your favorite line in Much Ado About Nothing?
I love so many lines in this play. One line that gives me great satisfaction to say is, “I would eat his heart in the marketplace!” Beatrice is so passionate!
This production of Much Ado is set in the 1940’s. What is the most interesting thing you’ve learned about this time period during rehearsals?
I had so much fun researching the lives of women who were here on the home front during World War II. Especially fascinating to me were the women that took factory jobs while the men were away, and who found themselves engaging in challenging, exciting work for the first time in their lives — work that many of them were surprised to learn they enjoyed — work that gave them a purpose and a renewed sense of self. For many women the war changed their views about their roles in the world and in the context of traditional marriage duties. I really admire the women that embraced the shift they experienced during that time and figured out how to remain true to their new outlook AND to whatever traditions (marriage, children, etc.) they wanted to maintain and participate in for themselves.
How were you introduced to Shakespeare in the Park?
I grew up in Dallas, TX, where Shakespeare in the Park has been going strong since the early 1970’s. I had the opportunity in high school to be in a production of Comedy of Errors with the Junior Players program (similar in some ways to our Apprentice Company) and loved the experience. When I moved to Nashville and started investigating theatres, I was excited to learn that we have a Park tradition of our own, and longed to audition. The timing finally worked out this year, and I couldn’t be more thrilled!
And most importantly: What is your favorite picnic food?
Watermelon with salt
Much Ado runs through September 16 at Centennial Park