Call Redialed: NEW Emily Kratter Interview: "Strangers in the World" at Axis Theatre
It’s so great getting to catch up with rising actress Emily Kratter. I’m thrilled she answered my call again! We first talked 2 years ago when Emily was appearing in Axis Theatre’s production of Dead End.
Now, Emily is back at Axis Theatre in their production of Strangers in the World by Axis Artistic Director Randy Sharp.
Strangers in the World is set in 1623—three-quarters of a century before the events depicted in The Crucible—stretches further back in history than Axis has ever gone, and taps into the combination of suffocating piety and existential dread that laid the groundwork for America. In the play, a small group of Puritans who arrive in the “New World” and, unable to venture far inland, build a poorly constructed village on the rocky shore. After two years, a ship arrives with more colonists and supplies, but the captain goes mad and sets the ship on fire, sinking it just beyond the harbor. A survivor from the burned vessel tells the settlers that others are coming to save them. Eight years pass, and at last they decide that tomorrow they will head somewhere south on a journey of certain hardship. Then, a visitor from another world arrives on the shoreline. The play depicts what happens when the values and morals of Puritans are set against the grinding agony of starvation, the constant death of their children, and the horror of murder. How can they choose between bonds of home, a godless southern city and the silent sweet promise of nothing?
Strangers in the World runs through April 6 at Axis Theatre in Manhattan’s West Village (One Sheridan Square, just off 7th Avenue). Click here for tickets!
1. It has been two years since our last interview. At that time we were speaking about your performance in Axis Theatre's production of Dead End. Now you are in another show presented by Axis Theatre entitled Strangers in the World. What do you love about performing with Axis Theatre? TWO YEARS?!?! Time is a funny thing. To me, most experiences come down to the company you keep, and at Axis there is this sort of old school troupe of actors that artistic director Randy Sharp often builds her shows around. This leads to a level of comfort and play right out of the gate that is super liberating.
I also feel challenged in a way that is unique to their process. We work on our feet almost immediately, whereas in other productions I am used to spending a week at the table. At first it can be terrifying, but it has cultivated in me a degree of trust and sense of surrender that I know I would not have otherwise.
2. What made you want to be part of Strangers in the World? There is nothing in the world I'd rather do than work on a new play. The collaboration and discovery inherent to the process is so stimulating, the material is always changing and it requires a focus and presence and openness that fills me up. So, there's that, and of course the opportunity to work with people I love. Whoever said, "don't do business with friends" must have had terrible friends.
3. What do you relate to most about your character? Oh boy...well, um...”Constance” has experienced some horrors and trauma that fortunately I can say I have trouble fathoming. But she is an observer, a thinker, and a listener -- and I can relate to her curiosity. She is a truth teller, trying to make sense of her circumstances and the people surviving around her. I'd probably say I am an OVER-thinker. I can go REAL REAL deep down the rabbit hole in search of meaning and understanding.
4. What is one characteristic of hers that you are glad you yourself do not possess? She has no filter. It is admirable in some respects but I also think it's as a result of naivety and desperation -- it is a childlike trait that makes her both endearing and dangerous.
Whether fortunately or unfortunately, I think my brain instinctively refines my unadulterated thoughts before they reach my mouth (most times).
5. How do you feel the story of "Strangers in the World," set in 1623, relate to the state of our country today? This one had me stumped for a while, but at the end of the day these people are simply trying to survive, and they are divided as to how to do that. They are dictated by fear of outsiders, as well as fear that they themselves are not as holy as their religious beliefs command they must be.
I'm sure i don't have to explicitly draw the comparison as to what I see going on today, but clearly while our "settlement" has amassed to include millions, we are as divided as ever. And I believe that the root of all of our current conflict (and future conflict) is purely fear. So in many ways, we are the same people we have always been...and that's both the beauty and the heartbreak of the play.
6. Like these characters, we all suffer hardships. What tips do you have for getting through tough times? You know, the one thing that consistently seems to help me is reminding myself that everything is temporary, the pendulum has to eventually swing back. Also I believe a change in perception can majorly shift a shitty circumstance. In that respect we can feel empowered and not at the whims of the world. But it's a practice, and sometimes life beats you up a little and there really is no way around it, no use fighting it. So, you treat yourself kindly, allow yourself to feel your feelings, talk to a friend, open a bottle of wine, breathe, go for a walk and just take one day at a time.
7. What are your pre-show rituals? Depends on the show! My routine really changes drastically depending on so many things...the demands of the piece, my energy that day etc..For this one, I have found that the costume has helped tremendously in clicking me in, so to speak (shout out to Karl Ruckdeschel -- brilliant!!). I immediately move differently and I feel viscerally that I am of another time and world when I get dressed. Before I go on, I'll go through a few moments, say some lines aloud to center me, but nothing crazy. I also often listen to music that connects my energy to where I am at the start of the piece -- that's a simple, dependable habit that usually comes with me on all projects.
8. What is one fun story you can share with us that has happened during rehearsals or tech? This show is…well, it's rather dark. You are meeting this group of people hanging on to their last thread of survival, desperate to be rescued...the stakes are HIGH, the emotions are HIGH, the trauma is overwhelming. And you know...sometimes suffering is funny. And during that last half hour of rehearsal, after a long day, sometimes the most sensitive, heartbreaking moments would just be impossible to get through without laughing. If you've seen the show I'll let you use your imagine as to which moments garnered the most breaking....(and I still have a few practical jokes up my sleeve, but am waiting for the right moment to execute).
9. What projects do you have coming up after Strangers in the World? I WANT TO GO ON VACATION!! I'm trying to make some travel plans my next project :) But also I have been working on a few plays in development as well as an indie feature. If the theatre gods are kind, one of the plays will debut in NY this fall. Details TBD!
10. Rapid Fire Questions:
Coke or Pepsi? Seltzer
Twizzlers or Red Vines? What are Red Vines?
Peanut Butter: Crunchy or Smooth? All the peanut butter, all the time.
Favorite go to Emoji when texting? OH NO, I CAN'T DO THAT TO THEM, CAN'T POSSIBLY CHOOSE!! (ok fine.. lately, I find myself really enjoying the face palm girl 🤦♀️)