Another rising actress that has recently come to my attention is Emily Kratter. From theatre to film to TV, Emily is appearing everywhere! She's currently starring in Axis Theatre Company's revival of Sidney Kingsley's Dead End, a Broadway hit in 1936, which was later turned into a film starring Humphrey Bogart which included the first appearance of "The Bowery Boys" who went on to become the iconic "kid gang" of American movies.
Dead End takes place in a New York where tenement houses and luxury apartments stand side by side and extreme wealth and abject poverty intersect every day. Gangsters and bankers, prostitutes and lost children, failure and dreams of the future all live on this street. Axis Theatre Company illuminates these stark contrasts with an understanding of their mythology as well as their contemporary mirror in the city of today.
Dead End plays at Axis Theatre (1 Sheridan Square) through May 20. Click here for tickets!
1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? My earliest memory is seeing Peter Pan...I must have been four or five. "Peter" took off and started flying and it was magic. So, I guess at the time you can say I just wanted to fly? But now, I can tell you for sure that I am inspired every single day to stay a performer by my brilliant friends and collaborators and fellow artists. The theatre community in New York City inspires me.
2. This spring you are starring in Axis Company's production of Sidney Kingsley's Dead End, about the legendary kid gang, "The Bowery Boys" who grew up on the streets of NYC during the Great Depression. What made you want to be part of this show? Well, for one the Axis Company is a group of fearless artists who march to beat of their own drum and create stunning work that is unlike anything I've seen elsewhere. Their artistry is only matched by their hearts and overall awesomeness as humans whom I genuinely always want to be around...So there's that. Working with wonderful people is a huge factor. But also -- immediately when I read this script, I was so taken with the characters, particularly the kids. There is this raw energy that excited me. Their emotions live entirely on their sleeves. They are silly, and scared, and yearning, and manipulative, and just trying to survive. The piece has so much going on. Our director, Randy Sharp has said, "It's like there is one miracle after the next" and I feel that to be true. There's not one moment in the play that does not propel us forward and nobody is ever on even ground. I felt that potential in my first read.
3. What do you relate to most about your character? What is one trait of theirs, you are glad you, yourself, don't have? Hmm well, "Milty" is hilarious. I think I definitely see elements of myself as a kid in him...He has a wild imagination that I know I had, and hope I still do. He is not self-conscious, and fully self-expressed and I love that, and it's a thrill to play. He also looks up to the gang leader, "Tommy" with such fierce admiration. I DEFINITELY did that as a kid. I had a group of older friends that I thought were the coolest. I upped my "cool" cred, just by being around them. As far as one trait I don't have? He is a SPAZ. And honestly, I guess I am too...but he takes it to a new level. I think I can say I'm not quite that bad...(I hope).
4. How do you feel "The Bowery Boys" story resonates in today's world? Dead End takes place in the 1930s where luxury apartments and tenement housing stand side by side. It examines the intersection of wealth and poverty and at the heart of it is the impact on this gang of kids. It's astonishing how much and how little has changed since that time. I live on the west side of Manhattan where buildings of grandeur are going up every day, and at it's base lay homeless men and women. It is our hope that while these characters might have once been labeled as archetypes, "gangster," "prostitute," "lost boy" etc, that we are examining the humanity underneath. And that humanity, I think will resonate forever.
And one more point of note: While "The Bowery Boys" are certainly a pillar in this play, there are 14 ACTORS making up this ensemble. I'll repeat: This is a downtown theater that hired 14 ACTORS to produce this baby. I think that's awesome and worth emphasizing.
5. What is something you learned about "The Bowery Boys" in preparing for this show that made you go, "Oh wow, I wonder how I would have faired or what would I have done in this situation? Hmm...I'm not sure how to answer this question without giving too much away. But there is a theme regarding "survival of the fittest." How far are you willing to go to build the life you've dreamed of? Or how far are you willing to go to for love? For a friend who's in trouble? And what is that point when one makes the decision to do what's best for him/herself despite everything else?
6. Since this story focuses on a kid gang, growing up, did you have your own gang or posse? Oh, I DID indeed. I was so lucky to have the most amazing friends growing up. Most of them are still my best friends today. I had a group of friends that I met doing theatre together, and now they are running the world -- they became attorneys and doctors and entrepreneurs and social workers and parents. Some have become successful actors too! And in school, I was in a group of five girls that were inseparable. We even had a name...We called ourselves, "PENT" because there were five of us. They are going to die a little when they read this. We are bonded for life...well, four of us...(long story).
7. In Dead End, gangsters and bankers, prostitutes and lost children, failure and dreams of the future all live on this street. If we break each of these categories down, when have you felt like a gangster, a banker, a prostitute, and a lost child? WOW. I guess I could most relate to the lost child... given these choices, I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing. I'm holding on to a hopefulness that I'm not going to let this world take from me. As for gangster? I'd be terrible...When I was in high school, my friend and I went through the turnstile together for the subway. A policeman grabbed us and told us not to do it again, and I think I had a panic attack. A banker? I think my soul would die if I worked in a cubicle. They work in cubicles right? or desks? I think I would die at a desk all day too. And prostitute? Yikes. Luckily things haven't gotten that rough yet...Ask me in a few years ;)
8. What are some of your dreams of the future? What are some of your failures of the past? I have had so much fun working on this show. It hasn't felt like work for one second. That's what I dream of...To have a fulfilling career "working" and never feeling the labor. To do what I love with the people I love. To tell stories that move people...to laughter or tears, whatever. To make some kind of impact and affect people by sharing these tales of flawed, broken, beautiful humans. I think at one point I told my parents I was going to double major when I was at NYU, have some sort of a "back up plan"...I failed at that promise. I'm not sure I even really tried, but shhh!
9. Let's play with the title of Dead End for a moment. What is a path or an idea you started out on, but unfortunately hit a "Dead End," with nowhere to go? I have gone through so many periods where I have wracked my brain and tried to trick myself into believing that perhaps I could be satisfied doing something else with my life. Something with more security, with structure. It's a dead end for sure. I think this crazy business is stuck with me for the long run.
10. On "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent every day. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent better every day? That's amazing!! I love this!! There are SO many things!! But to keep things light, I need to sharpen my cooking skills. I have a crock pot I bought off of Amazon last year that's still in the box....well, it's actually out of the box, but that's as far as I got :( Terrible....Shameless plug: Our director Randy Sharp actually has a BRILLIANT cooking show on youtube called DINNER PARTY TONIGHT - One day I'll make her proud and replicate one of her to-die-for recipes. Ina Garten better watch out.
Emily Kratter Favorite credits: Axis: Dead End, Evening – 1910, The Groundling and Solitary Light. Other Select NYC theatre/workshops: Confederates (LAByrinth Theater Co, The Lark/Workshop); Be More Chill (workshop/Dir. Scott Ellis); Death For Sydney Black (TerraNOVA Collective/Dir. Kip Fagan); Boomer's Millenial Hero Story; Belieber (TerraNOVA Collective/Groundbreakers); The Austerity of Hope (The Barrow Group); Greenwood (NYMF); Progress In Flying (The New Group/New Works); Pooka (Dramatists Guild/Playwrights Horizons); Five Second Chances (The Playwright's Realm/INK'D); The Physicists (Williamstown); The Holy Ghostly (Williamstown/workshop), The Children's Hour (APAC). Film: Adelaide, Half Brother (Amazon/Itunes) TV: Unforgettable (CBS). Web: Fomo Daily NYU Tisch.