Five Questions for Heidi Schreck

photo by Justine Cooper

photo by Justine Cooper

Name: Heidi Schreck
Title/Occupation: Actor/Playwright

1. Where did you grow up and how did you end up where you are now?

I grew up in Wenatchee, Washington, the Apple Capital of the World. When I was 6, my mom cast me as Hermia in a children’s production of  A Midsummer Night’s Dream and that’s how I fell in love with theater. Then I changed my mind and wanted to be a ballerina. Then I wanted to be a lawyer. Then I moved to Russia and worked as a journalist. And finally in my early twenties, I moved to Seattle and joined a small theater company called Printer’s Devil with my now-husband Kip Fagan. We wanted to make theater that people our age would like, so we did mostly new plays by young writers and devised work. It was the mid-90’s — a wonderful time to be in Seattle because there was so much interesting work happening with small theaters and dance companies. Kip and I moved to NYC together in 2003.

2. Which performance, song, play, movie, painting or other work of art had the biggest influence on you and why?

A production of Macbeth outdoors at the Oregeon Shakespeare Festival. My mom took me to see it when I was 7 years old. I had nightmares for months. I really identified with Macbeth, with his guilt. Something about that play made me feel – even at age 7 – that I could have a murderer inside me, too. It was terrifying and I wanted more. Also, ERS’ s Gatz. If I ever think I can’t take this life any longer, I think of Gatz and I want to keep doing it.

3. What skill, talent or attribute do you most wish you had and why?

I wish I could sing. I’d like to play Dot in Sunday in the Park with George, or actually I’d like to play George. Also, I wish I could be Alice Ripley. I have a big voice in my heart, but it refuses to come out. It’s shy. And it doesn’t have a real sense of pitch.

4. What do you do to make a living? Describe a normal day.

It’s ever changing. Right now, I’m in Annie Baker’s play at Playwrights Horizons at night and rehearsing my own play Creature during the day. Those two things together mean I can survive for now. Then, in November, once my play opens, I’ll go back to teaching ESL during the day until the next acting job, which looks like it’s coming in December. It’s a constant struggle. I’m always cobbling things together – acting, teaching, applying for fellowships, opening the cards with money from my parents.

5. Have you ever had to make a choice between work and art? What did you choose, why, and what was the outcome?

When Kip and I moved here I took a vow that I would always choose art over a day job, even if it meant not having any money. I’ve mostly kept that promise. In our first year, I remember we had about $30 left between us and weren’t sure where the next $30 was coming from. We could have bought groceries, but instead we ordered the steak dinner from Jake’s Barbecue in Brooklyn. It comes with a lot of sides. Now we’re learning to be much more practical, but it was one of the best meals I’ve ever had.

****

Heidi’s play Creature, produced by Page 73 and New Georges at the OHIO, opens November 2nd, directed by Leigh Silverman. She is currently performing in Annie Baker’s Circle Mirror Transformation at Playwrights Horizons, which closes November 1.

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