ELIZABETH PIEROTTI, appearing in WELL at 1st Stage through April 23, has a theatrical history that runs the gamut of great contemporary roles, from The Glass Menagerie to The Apple Family Plays. Relax, Take Ten, and join in her dream of a day-long rendezvous with Maya Angelou, Stella Adler, and Tennessee Williams.
1) What was the first show you ever saw, and what impact did it have?
When I was quite young my parents took the family to see a production of West Side Story at the Weston Playhouse in Vermont. The next day I let my younger sister, Ann-Mari, be Maria. I saw the life, the fire, the complexity in Anita. I never wanted to be the ingénue again.
2) What was your first involvement in a theatrical production?
The first production I did outside of my living room and school, I played Zelda Fitzgerald for a series called Portraits in Motion at the National Portrait Gallery. The next year I played Bonnie Parker. Both were directed by Leslie Jacobson who was the Artistic Director of Horizons Theatre.
3) What’s your favorite play or musical, and why do you like it so much?
I guess I would have to say A Street Car Named Desire. I love all the different elements explored in that play, the delicate and the brutal, the careless and the cautious, the diverse beauty of life.
4) What’s the worst day job you ever took?
More of a side job really, I was hired by Joe Jeff of the Wonder Company to play Scarlett O’Hara for a big Washington, DC party. I stood frozen for hours on top of a round hors d’oeuvres table wearing an antebellum gown holding a parasol while the Reaganites ate Poo Poos and discussed politics.
5) What is your most embarrassing moment in the theatre?
The second most embarrassing moment is the time I stood on a stump in the Forest of Arden delivering a monologue with my breast exposed after a costume malfunction. This was during a Final Scene Night at Studio Theatre Acting Conservatory. I didn’t realize what had happened until after. I just thought the audience was spellbound by my performance. Nope, that wasn’t it.
The cast and crew of Well are great and the folks at 1st Stage are always wonderful. My role of Ann Kron is both exciting and scary. The character is described in the play as being “a fantastically energetic person in an utterly exhausted body.” The risk frightens me but I am really enjoying the challenge.
7) Other than your significant other, who’s your dream date (living or dead) and why?
Breakfast with Maya Angelou to be empowered, Lunch with Stella Adler to be shown the way and dinner with Tennessee Williams to sip wine and be reminded of humanity.
8) What is your dream role/job?
Well, my dream role changes with time but for now I would say Mattie Fae Aiken from August Osage County. She is a woman with the weight of a secret. I find her fascinating.
9) If you could travel back in time, what famous production or performance would you choose to see?
I really regret not seeing Kathleen Chalfant in Wit when it was MCC in New York City. I stood outside the theatre but I had other plans. I made the wrong choice.
10) What advice would you give to an 8-year-old smitten by theatre / for a graduating MFA student?
Advice for both: Listening is just as important as speaking. It is not about the words, it’s about the ideas.
ELIZABETH PIEROTTI has been working in Washington theatres since 1987. She previously appeared at 1st Stage in The Glass Menagerie and The How and the Why. Other credits include The Apple Family Plays: Sorry, Regular Singing, Sweet and Sad, and That Hopey Changey Thing, (Helen Hayes Nomination, Outstanding Ensemble,) The Steward of Christendom, and Silence, Cunning Exile (Studio Theatre); The Women and The Time of Your Life (Arena Stage); The Grapes of Wrath and Inherit the Wind (Ford’s Theatre); Never Swim Alone (Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company); The Well of Horniness, Shaker Heights, and Little Criminals (Source Theatre); After the Orgy, and Come and Go (Scene Theatre); The Taming of the Shrew (Washington Shakespeare Company); Marathon ’33 (Horizons Theatre); Etta Jenks (Fourth Wall Productions). Liz trained at the Studio Theatre Acting Conservatory.