Published on December 2nd, 2016 | by Biz Books
The Biz Interview: Jess Amy Shead
‘Tis the season for some holiday entertainment at Pacific Theatre.
Lucia Frangione’s Holy Mo! A Christmas Show! is back for another run with some new faces, including Jess Amy Shead. Having recently wrapped up an apprenticeship with Pacific Theatre, which included an impressive tally of 9 projects over the course of 10 months, Jess Amy Shead is now bringing to life the character of Buffoona with amusing results. We spoke to Jess Amy Shead to find out more about her and the show.
What is your involvement with Holy Mo and how did that get started?
Last season I was a part of Pacific Theatre’s Apprenticeship Program, and part of the perks of the apprenticeship is that you can audition for Pacific Theatre shows. So, I auditioned for Holy Mo! A Christmas Show! and got it! I am playing one of the three characters, Buffoona.
What drew you to be a part of this production?
This is the 3rd version of Holy Mo! Pacific Theatre has produced, These characters have been alive for quite some time, and I was drawn to the history of the piece and the idea that Pacific Theatre audiences would know these characters. I also felt a great honor to inherit the role from Erla Faye Forsyth. Erla is an incredible actor, and a “Pacific Theatre Legend” as I like to say, so to know that she played the role last is very exciting. Plus, the material is just so fun! I get to embrace my inner goof ball, which I feel has only been coming out in the last few years, so it’s a hoot to put that onstage and play with the amazing cast and creative team!
Can you share some of your creative process in preparing for the role – from the initial planning all the way to opening night?
As soon as I know I am cast in something, the ideas start rolling in my head. I stay away from making any decisions about what the show should look like, or how my character should be, but it’s helpful to let the ideas fly, and just ruminate on what I do know about the piece. For this particular show, I knew I needed to study up on the Christmas Story in it’s original form, as this show is described as “irreverently revert”, so I need to understand the true story before I can tell the jokes about it. Then once rehearsals start, it’s really just making sure I eat and sleep well, and am 100% present in the room, giving and receiving and sharing, and constantly reminding myself how lucky I am to be doing what I’m doing! I often feel like a show takes over your life while you’re rehearsing, not entirely, but it’s a huge time and energy commitment, and I love that feeling. And when getting to the potential nerves of opening night, keeping the work as the main point. Just tell the story, and trust yourself and your team. I could get in to the nitty gritty of how I approach a script, how I memorize lines etc. but we would be here for a while!
What should audiences expect from this show?
A very fun and surprising exploration of the Christmas story, with a strong and loving heart!
What are the three most important ingredients for a successful stage production?
Honesty, Kindness, and Collective Energy.
Are there any books or authors that have been influential to you so far in your creative journey?
In my spare time I mostly read plays, but one book that has stuck with me since reading it in high school is Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood. Now I can’t stand post apocalyptic stories, they are terrifying for me! But that book was my first introduction into what the world could look like in the future, and how our actions might lead us there. That idea has stuck with me.
What is the most important lesson you have learned so far in your career?
That I take time to learn things, develop opinions, and form creative ideas. And that’s okay!
What other projects do you have coming up and where can people find out more about you online?
This March I’m going to be playing Wendyla in Spring Awakening with Phantom Moon Productions, directed by Chris Lam, which will also be on the Pacific Theatre Stage. You can find info on that and more at my website: jessamyshead.com.
Thanks to Jess Amy Shead for speaking with us!
You can see Holy Mo! A Christmas Show! at Pacific Theatre until December 31st, 2016. Visit PacificTheatre.org for ticket information.