|Bethany Anne Lind at Signature Theatre|
When asked in an interview to describe Leigh, Lind demurs by looking toward playwright Paul Downs Colaizzo and saying, “I don’t know what I’m allowed to say.”
The producers of Really Really, it seems, are trying to keep a lid on what the play is really, really about, though rumors have circulated that it is loosely based on the 2006 Duke lacrosse incident. Colaizzo himself prefers to talk about the theme of the play rather than the plot, although he grants permission to Lind to “talk about who she is.”
Leigh, she finally says, is “a person who has grown up with nothing and always has had to fight to get where she is, as opposed to most of the other characters who have been handed their educations and their places in life. She has had to work and fight to get there, so she has a very clear goal of what she wants out of life and she is going to do whatever she has to do to get it.”
Lind herself seems unusually demure to play a hardscrabble role like that, but her own life story indicates a determination to achieve, even if it was generated in a more genteel environment.
Homeschooled in North Carolina, Lind started acting in church plays and in the living room and backyard.
“I did a lot of making up plays with my siblings and my cousins and my neighbors,” she said, and her parents “fostered a very creative atmosphere, so we were always pretending and making stuff up.”
Eventually, she went to college at Campbell University, a small, liberal-arts school.
After she graduated, Lind moved to Atlanta “and did a couple of educational shows and the little things you’ve got to do to start out” in the acting business. She chose Atlanta instead of New York or Los Angeles because she did not want to “get lost in the sea of billions of actors who are already there.”
In Atlanta, she “found a great theatre community and artistic home.” She has lived there for about five years, getting film and television work in Atlanta and traveling to New York “every now and then” to audition for shows like Really Really.
Among Lind’s credits on stage are August: Osage County and Steel Magnolias. On screen, she has been in Mean Girls 2 and the forthcoming films Flight and Crackerjack, and the TV series, Army Wives.
The way she won the role of Leigh (described to me elsewhere as “pivotal”) hinged on a local connection.
“I have extended family in Northern Virginia,” she said, “and I check the Equity web site frequently for auditions for things and had seen a call for this particular role. I didn’t really know anything about the play. I just saw a character description and thought, ‘that sounds interesting.’”
Since she was going to be in Northern Virginia for Thanksgiving, she sent an email to Really Really’s director, Matthew Gardiner, even though she didn’t know him, and asked if she could read for him.
|Bethany Anne Lind with Paul Downs Colaizzo|
So, Lind explained, “I took the bus up to New York, read the script on the way there, just loved it and auditioned -- and here I am.”
Colaizzo, who wrote the play, interjected to point out that the character of Leigh was transformed once he and Gardiner saw Lind audition.
“We may have thought we knew who the character of Leigh was, before Bethany came in to audition,” the playwright said, “but she also taught us who the character was, in an audition that was magnetic.”
That magnetism, he explained, “has transferred into her work in this play.”
Lind appreciates being part of a world premiere.
“It’s always fun working on it with the playwright in the room,” she said. “I feel like we inform each other on the character. It’s just exciting to be part of that part of the development of the play and the character.”
Performances of Really Really run through March 25, 2012. Show times are Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 7:30 pm, Thursdays and Fridays at 8:00 pm, Saturdays at 2:00 pm and 8:00 pm, and Sundays at 2:00 pm and 7:00 pm.
Tickets range from $56 - $80 and are available by calling Ticketmaster at 703-573-SEAT (7328) or visiting www.signature-theatre.org. Student discount tickets are $30 and must be purchased the week of the performance. For more information please visit www.signature-theatre.org.