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Kathelin Gray  –  actress
Click for larger image " I'm on a quest for meaning: I saturate myself with the drama until I dream and daydream about it."
How were you originally motivated to become an actress?
  I used to be a shy person who was interested in others. Now I'm not so shy, I'm told. I've always wanted to find out what prompts other people to do things. By putting myself in another's place, I understand them better. I feel free to explore unfamiliar thoughts, movements and emotions.

Some early memories: when learning how to talk, I would wonder if others actually saw the same thing as I did when they identified colors. Was my yellow their yellow? At costume parties, I liked to help my friends pretend that they were someone else, and wondered why we had so much fun and opened up by transforming our identities. Yet later, I would ask my girlfriends to imagine beyond the limits of our town, of our country, of the world, of the universe. Usually, they became afraid, hiding under the covers at a pajama party, crying to get me to stop talking. I didn't understand why they were afraid to think beyond the boundaries of their imagination, and I wanted to know what made them like that.

Then when I was 15, a group of professional actors came to my high school and gave a demonstration of voice exercises. That night, I went to see the performance at their theater, with a pass to go backstage afterwards. There I found those same actors in their dressing rooms, still with makeup and costumes on, having just given a very emotional performance, some still sweating like dancers or athletes, all of them in an altered state from the performance. I noticed bouquets of flowers, cast–aside costumes, street clothes hanging on hooks, and photos, jokes and lucky charms scattered about, taped to the mirrors or lying on the dressing tables next to tins of face paint. The sense of focus, of playfulness, seriousness and togetherness was intense. I knew that this was the life for me. I wanted the discipline, the inner freedom, the friendship, the gift to communicate, the joy of creating living breathing people who live through me and my colleagues.

When I was 18 I co–founded a theater troupe that I still work with today, Theater of All Possibilities.

  Click for larger image
What can you share about your creative process?
    I'm on a quest for meaning: I saturate myself with the drama until I dream and daydream about it. I surround myself with background material- music, images, books – full of background – but also things I intuitively feel fuel my imaginative processes. Maybe I'll see a shirt in a second hand shop that'll give me the key. Maybe I'll find it in a diner looking at a sixteen–year–old girl with a beehive hairdo and a peculiar look in her eyes. I watch like a hawk for clues. Alone or with friends, I sit in busy restaurants and café's and watch people with unfocussed attention. In a studio, I explore movements and different voices to find my point of entry for a character; I read the text over and over until each word resonates with meaning. Then, I interact with others involved in the production – other actors, director, designers, and step–by–step build a character and context like an architectural structure. Or, sometimes, I'll just plunge into an improvisation and find that I nail the role without conscious thought.

When I find the character, I will spend a lot of time acting as if I were she. Acting as if you're another person is different than pretending to be someone else; it involves observing yourself acting someone else - there's an extra step involved. More discoveries come working onstage and with others. At a certain point, I must complete my involvement with the character, or else I find 'she' controls too much of my life.

If I am fully successful in acting 'as if', I reveal access to whole new worlds within myself, as well as empathy with the character I'm playing. This can be a joyful and astonishing experience.

What unique ideas can you suggest for a future community on Mars?
  The citizens of the Mars colony will be confronted with the searing challenge of survival in an unknown external world, and the burning desire to flourish in a sometimes tempestuous, sometimes bored, sometimes inspired, sometimes just plain exhausted, sometimes confused, sometimes fanciful inner world. There is a great deal for these explorers and managers to learn from the artistic way of life, where there is a great tolerance for inner contradictions, for the irrational, a live–and–let–live attitude, a search for the true and authentic expression, a delight in the company of others, playfulness, conversation, a zest for life and a curiosity to see what art and astonishment can be created out of all this human stuff.

In each grouping (say, 8-20 person groups, as they form organically) within the greater community, there should be weekly dinners, lively themed salons with role–playing and conversations. Speeches can be given once a week at a special festive dinner where each person expresses what she/he is feeling and thinking that week.

The colony could have several informal ensembles which would perform for the others in a special setting. Music, speeches from the heart and mind, and above all, the actual practice of theater, grow personal connections that can be as deep as a family or tribe.

Live theater is a supportive and sacred interactive space, and each participant can safely explore their inner depths and the heights, knowing there will be no consequences in "real" life. This brings a special inner freedom, and nurtures courage.

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