An interview with Sara Coy for the Threshold Theatre production of 33 Variations
1. Where did you grow up? What drew you to theatre and the arts?
I grew up in a household full of the arts in St Clair Shores, Michigan. I remember hot summer days of intense creativity, my father madly painting commissions in his studio, while my brother pounded out Beethoven Sonatas on his piano. We were loud, boisterous and filled with passion. My destiny as an artist was not inevitable, however. My other siblings went into nursing and social work. I’m proud the Maniscalco’s believe it is important to give back to the community in whatever capacity our gifts lead us. My affinity with the arts stems from a desire to say the un-sayable. Theatre teaches us the lessons of how to, or how not to live a good life. I am so grateful to have a voice, as an artist in a variety of disciplines, and the freedom to speak from my heart.
2. Where have you worked previously? Any favorite previous roles?
When I was 23 my breakout role was that of Mozart in Amadeus. I had just completed my double major in Music Education and Performance. I found it thrilling to play Mozart, having just performed his Clarinet Concerto on my senior recital. I went off to NYC and continued my study of theatre at Circle in the Square, going on to commissioning composers and playwrights to create collaborations between musicians and actors, very much along the lines of what our playwright Moises Kaufman has done. The idea of interacting with live music as an empowering event in the dramatic action of a play (not merely as an accompaniment) has always been extremely exciting to me.
3. How have you prepared to play Beethoven? Have you experienced any challenges along the way?
I have been preparing all my life to play Beethoven. I’m listening to the Moonlight Sonata as I write this, which really is all the preparation one might need. I’ve song in the Chorus of his 9th with the Louisiana Philharmonic, and performed and conducted his great works as a symphonic musician for many years. My challenge when dealing with a towering iconic figure like Beethoven has been to personalize him. I’m not interested in playing the cliche of the “crazy” artist. As Pam, my director said, and I paraphrase, “if others could have understood and accepted Beethoven’s music, and what it took to get it out, there would have been no need for his notoriously bad behavior.” I am not playing him as “crazy.” In my experience, crazy people cannot make music or art. Some have been able to make art despite the affliction of mental illness or ill health. Imagine, being the greatest composer the world has ever known and going deaf.
4. What do you look forward to each time you perform on stage?
Creating it every time as if it is happening right now, which it is. To be present, living the life of a genius like Beethoven is one of the greatest gifts I can ever imagine. What an incredible opportunity, every moment of which I cherish with all my heart.
5. Please share your thoughts and experience so far as an actor working with the cast and crew of Threshold Repertory Theatre.
This production has been a whirlwind of frenzy and joy. It is such a pleasure to work amongst supportive colleagues as we each enter the deep water this play demands for each of the characters. It is a tribute to a great director to create such a safe environment, combining the tech heavy aspects of such a play with the decidedly non-technical, very human stories of each of these wonderful characters. I worked with Pam on The Crucible and am very happy to be working with her again. That level of trust is very rare and I am very grateful to be back. Also, it must be said that I am renewed in my art by my muse, my incredibly loving and supportive wife, Cate, with whom I will celebrate our first year of marriage on June 1.
If you like/don’t like or want to add your thoughts to the conversation, I encourage you to comment. Also, you may want to get a copy of Point of Art – Second Edition, or download it today. I offer career coaching for those serious about a career in art. Don’t forget to check out The Portrait – a painting video and The Power of Positive Painting, the original portrait painting video.