Theater is arguably the most collaborative artform in existence. It requires a reliance on others bringing their talents, skills and expertise, and a trust in their decisions and intuition. With The Song of the Nightingale opening at Altarena Playhouse in a few weeks, I wanted to showcase some of the amazing people who are helping me bring this show to life. First, I interview Deedra Wong who is playing the title role of The Nightingale.
MIN: One of the most fascinating things to me about this project is the fact that most of the actors in this show do so much more than perform. Can you describe a little of what you do beyond performing?
DEEDRA: I like to read tarot cards and help people gain insight into their life. I love the mystical arts and I love sharing what I know with people. I started reading cards in 1986 and started my business Tarot Perspectives in 2012. I read for people over the telephone or in person.
I teach dance and choreograph musicals as well, and I like helping people become better performers. In addition to Nightingale, I am choreographing The Gold Rush Musical! produced by Bay Area Children's Theatre, which will go on tour to local elementary schools in October.
I also wrote an album called, Pisces Dream. It's a self-produced electronica album on iTunes. I hope to write another album again at some point. Maybe I'll write a book too. The artist in me needs to constantly be creative!
M: What drew you to work on The Song of the Nightingale?
D: A friend told me there was a local playwright in the Bay Area who wrote a musical written for an all Asian cast featuring a dancing bird. I knew at that moment I wanted to be in the show. I wanted to be a part of a local, original project and help bring it to life. When I saw the first staged reading in 2010, I originally thought I wanted to be play Feng because I wanted to use my voice and be comedic. But then as time went on, I realized the Nightingale role was more fitting since I am primarily a dancer. I like the challenge of not using my voice at all and only using movement to convey my character. To be graceful and smooth is a good challenge for me.
M: What are your creative sources of inspiration in working to craft the character of the Nightingale?
D: The music is my true source of inspiration for the Nightingale. The music tells me what to do.
M:What kinds of dance are influencing her movement?
D: I use a little bit of everything to craft her movement: ballet, modern, jazz, latin dance, hip hop, Chinese dance. The one thing I knew about the Nightingale was that she is not only one style but all styles mixed in one body.
M: Well, I'm certainly thankful that you are a part of this project. Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions as well.