Emely Grisanty recently won Best Actress in the Independent Theater category for ATI. She is a performer of Dominican heritage and found of Guacamolink, a Hispanic theater company. She is currently playing all of the roles in a 75-minute play called OEDIPUS which is inspired by the Greek tragedy “Oedipus Rex”.
The Playbill Collector (TPC): What was your first experience with theater?
Emely Grisanty (EG): My mom took me to see the musical THE JUNGLE BOOK in my hometown of Santiago, Dominican Republic. She bought the cassette for me, which contained not just the soundtrack but the audio of the entire play, I learned all the dialogues and songs from top to bottom.
TPC: Did you go to school for theater?
EG: I have taken classes for acting and voice training. My background is in Civil Engineering and I have a Masters in Construction Management from NYU. My biggest training has been with Walter Ventosilla, my director, who has been doing theatre for 40 years and is an excellent pedagogue. I firmly believe no school can give you the experience and the training that being confronted with an audience will unveil.
TPC: You play eight roles in OEDIPUS. How did you prepare for those roles?
EG: There was a lot of preparation with the director. We worked with each of the characters in the order they appeared on the play and the transitions between those characters. A lot of patience is required however it was the most fulfilling experience of my life and my career, because every rehearsal was an exploration and profound happiness after discovering something new and exciting that would be added to the theatrical piece. Off the stage I trained my endurance, my strength and flexibility doing weights, kickboxing and yoga.
EG: Each of the characters is unique and has a special purpose in the story. Also, we shaped their personalities, voices and physicality in a way that was distinctively different for each. The characters also make use of the props in a way that became intrinsic to each and is inherent of each character.
TPC: Do you have a set and costumes or is it a scaled back version with minimal props?
EG: It’s a very scaled back version, we only use three props which enhance each of the characters’ physicality.
TPC: The show is done in Spanish and English. Does it switch off nights?
EG: We ended the first four shows, which were in Spanish, and now we have two in English.
TPC: Who is your target audience?
EG: Anyone who loves theatre or is just venturing into something new is our target audience. However, given that the play is a tragedy we do not recommend it for a younger audience.
TPC: What kind of reactions have you been getting after the show?
EG: The general audience and critics alike have been great with their reviews and impressions of the show. After it ends people seem to be so overwhelmed with what they’ve seen on stage, the intensity of the play, they love the transitions and the overall passion displayed before them. We have had audience members come experience it for the fourth time!
TPC: What do you hope to portray to people?
EG: As a woman it is extremely important for me to show that there are no boundaries to what we as women can do. In the entertainment industry we have been pigeonholed and yet our range is incredible, especially demonstrated by the fact that I play seven male characters in this play, and only one female. Different, raw, visceral roles regardless of their gender are what I love to portray, unfortunately we do not receive many opportunities to play such characters.
TPC: Do you have any upcoming projects you are working on after this?
EG: We will be participating in the United Solo Festival in the Theatre District in NY in November. Also we have a new play that we’ll start rehearsing for after this season of OEDIPUS comes to an end and a short film is also in the works.