Drip Feed: An Interview with Tara Wisely
In just under two weeks, the CAMP Rehoboth Theater Company will premier Drip Feed, a one-woman show starring local actor Tara Wisely. We sat down with Tara to learn more about her acting career, favorite roles, and biggest challenges. And about just how she prepares for a performance where she is front-and-center—sporting an Irish accent—for an entire solo show.
CAMP Rehoboth: Describe your last experience on stage.
Tara Wisely: It was different from what I usually do because it was a musical which is not my normal genre. I was in 9 to 5 at Clear Space and played Violet, the Lily Tomlin character. I don’t get to do musicals that often as I’m what they call “an actor who sings.” I can sing and I can read music and follow a tune, but I am not someone who you would necessarily go see because you love to hear me sing. I do think I am great at telling a story though, and this was a story-telling character. It was wonderful to work with young people who were theater majors and who took their craft seriously. I also enjoyed playing to a packed house every night.
CR: What was your longest running role on stage?
TW: My longest running roles have been with Clear Space Theater. I do the summer programs like 9 to 5, and years ago I did Oliver. We did two performances a week for the 2022 summer, for a total of about 20 shows.
CR: What’s the first thing you do to research a character’s role?
TW: I will read the script a few times through and when I get a sense of who this character is, then I will look for the key moments in the script. I will find the defining moments that created the arc of who the character is from the beginning of the play to who they become by the end of the play. I pinpoint those moments and work on those first. This show is unique because she is telling a story the whole time. The audience does not see an actor experiencing changes over real time, like a play typically would present. In this show the audience is watching the actor tell you about things that have already happened and have already affected her.
CR: What is the best way you have found to memorize the script?
TW: I read this script repeatedly so that I had a general sense of the story line. I embedded the story in my brain and then broke it down into 14-16 sections. Then I record each section and tackle them one at a time until I have them memorized. In a play with other actors, you have prompts from them to help remind you of your next line; in a monologue, you have to create breaking points so it is easier to move into the next section and it flows.
CR: What experience do you have with accents, and how do you develop them?
TW: I have not done a lot with accents. The only reason I was willing to chance it with this show was because I had an elderly family member when I was growing up who was from Ireland. I heard the accent when I was young and impressionable, and I have also traveled there and so am familiar with that specific ‘Cork’ accent. I feel accents are about rhythm and cadence and I feel I have a grasp on the cadence part of the Irish language. If I focus on the vowels and can get them down, then the language is easier to develop. For instance, I’ll work on getting the “I” down and underline the vowels in the script and record myself. Once I do this for a bit, then I can start to do it naturally. The Irish accent is melodic, with highs and lows, and is very expressive, which makes it a little easier to get a feel for.
CR: Describe your most challenging role to date.
TW: I was challenged two times in recent years in terms of the circumstances surrounding my participation. Once I took over a role for someone three weeks prior to production. I played Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing. This was a bucket list role that I have always wanted to play. I knew some of the scenes well but not the whole play. It was challenging because I needed to learn the blocking and lines quickly. I was recently challenged again when I was asked two weeks before opening night to take on a role in Murder on the Orient Express.
Fortunately, it was not as big a role, but still a challenge.
CR: Which type of acting do you feel you are most suited for?
TW: I really love the talky comedies like Neil Simon. I love the quick funny pace. The reason why I love acting so much is because there is so much to think about while you are on stage that you don’t have any room in your brain to think about anything else. It is a release for me. it is like an intense meditation.
CR: Who do you consider to be your acting role model?
TW: That sort of shifts for me. I really like English actors and those around my age. I love Helena Bonham Carter and Emma Thompson. I also like Rose Byrne a lot; I respect that she is skilled at both drama and comedy and doesn’t seem pinned down to doing one type of role. ▼
Drip Feed will enjoy its US premier on the CAMP Rehoboth Community Center stage, February 23-25, at 8:00 p.m. Tickets are available at camprehoboth.com.
Karen Laitman serves on CAMP Rehoboth Theater’s Publicity Committee and has acted in the theater’s last two productions. She serves also on the CROP Leadership Committee and is Co-Chair for Women’s FEST 2023.