5 Questions with Actress Kate Wetherhead

1. This play was very popular when it first came out, but it’s been sort of forgotten until now, with the Guthrie’s production and a Broadway revival coming up next year. Why do you think that is, and what do you think of the decision to revive it?

Now it feels like a period piece that illuminates how much has changed, and stayed the same. It not only offers a bit of nostalgia, but also offers our audience a question to see how relevant it still is. We’re still in the process of asking and answering those questions, just in different ways. We are now more distanced, and we have the advantage of that perspective.

 

2. What do you enjoy most about the play?

I’ve never played a part like this before. I have done plays, but I’ve done mostly musicals, and so it’s been thrilling to play a character of this size with this amount of substance in a play in a theater like the Guthrie. It feels like a career-defining moment for me. As someone who loves to work and who loves to perform, this is one of those rare and significant opportunities.

 

3. What do you bring personally to the character of Heidi?

I think Heidi and I are similar in that we are observers. I like to meet new people but I also need to get a sense of people before I’m ready to open up. We both use humor as a way in and out, as a way to connect with people and to protect ourselves. We’re both ambitious but not ruthless, and frustrated by the fact that ruthlessness seems to win out a lot. I think I’m definitely reluctant to behave a certain way in order to get what I want because it seems a little obnoxious, but I understand that it’s sometimes required if you really want something, and I think Heidi shares that reluctance as well. I think we’re similar in that we really value our friendships. There’s certain things I just can’t put my finger on. I feel like I inherently understand her. She might be a little bit sadder than me, and yet I completely understand her sadness.

 

4. Is there anything surprising about the play?

One component that gets forgotten a lot is that it’s funny! It’s all these serious themes, but at the end of the day there’s an incredible amount of humor. Wendy Wasserstein’s specific type of humor comes through in her really delicious and sometimes biting wit.

 

5. Why is Heidi’s story still relevant to the day and age, what is important about it?

At its basic level, it’s about a person trying to find their place in the world, and trying to find the people who will make her place make sense. Who will hold up a mirror to you and be there for you? It’s about connection, it’s about commitment and feeling, it’s a very universal story. Where women are concerned, it reminds us that while we’ve made incredible progress with our gender politics and advocating for women in society, it’s not a completely resolved issue. I just think gender politics are a little bit insidious, they’re harder to define because great working women are accepted now, but there are so many double standards about how to behave, how to look, and meanwhile we’re still fighting these battles about reproductive rights, and assault and sexism in the streets. None of it has gone away. It’s improved, but it hasn’t gone away. Doing a play like this is a really important and exciting way to re-ignite that conversation if you haven’t had it in a while.

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