Bloody Poetry Cast and Crew Spotlight: Andrea Young and Devin Huchingson

By: Emma Grimm

Name: Andrea Young
I play: Mary Shelley

In his introduction to the play Brenton disclaims any interest in moralizing over the actions of his characters. But, reflecting on your preparation and time in the role, do you personally feel that your character is fundamentally a good person or no?

I have similar feelings about approaching the characters I play. It’s important to me to not judge them or think of them as good or bad. Every character is trying to do the best they can despite their faults. Mary is described as cold a few times, but she has a deep love and vulnerability underneath her frosty defenses. 

How have your prepared for you role as Mary?

I tend not to research too much about the history of any real people I play because it can sometimes conflict with the way a character is written by the playwright. I take all of my interpretation of the characters from the script itself since that is the truth of the character in this situation. If we were to be rigidly historically accurate, I would be far too old to play Mary anyway. What’s important to me is the play is done justice. 

Has your character had any affect on you in your everyday life?

All of my thoughts are now in a British dialect. 

How does playing a character based off of an actual historical figure differ from playing a completely fictional character? Which do you prefer?

It’s always helpful to have additional resources to draw from when planning out objectives and physicality. Knowing what sort of clothing people wore and how their daily lives played out can add nuance to a performance. But I do think that playing an actual person can be a trap for some actors, especially if it’s someone from a modern era. It’s easy to fall into mimicry rather than exploring the inner life of a character. 

What do you think makes this production unique from others that you’ve done?

It blows me away how much everyone is in love with this production. It’s refreshing to have the cast and crew be so enthusiastic at every rehearsal. Everyone has contributed something above and beyond. Whether it’s creating videos, making props, painting, sewing, feeding people, everyone has made this a true community effort.

What is your favorite line from the show?

There are so many lines that are evocative and beautiful and poetic that it’s hard to choose just one. And then there are lines I get to say that are just so powerful emotionally that I love saying them. But the best part for me is when Bysshe recites from “The Mask of Anarchy”. The music that Devin composed with it and his performance is just gorgeous. 

Name: Devin Huchingson
I play: Percy Bysshe Shelley

In his introduction to the play Brenton disclaims any interest in moralising over the actions of his characters. But, reflecting on your preparation and time in the role, do you personally feel that your character is fundamentally a good person or no?

After having studied much of Shelley’s poetry and letters, it seems that in his late teen years, when his writing took a turn towards politics, he slowly became consumed by what he wrote. How often have we heard of the “once pure artist” who became jaded by their own art? Was Bysshe fundamentally good? I’m not sure. Probably not. But then again that raises the question of if any of us really are. I guess when questioning the goodness of others all we can do is consider the fruit that their life bore. The writings of Bysshe Shelley have stretched through time and space. He’s influenced great thinkers and advocates of peace such as Gandhi, Dr. King, C.S Lewis. I can tell you with confidence that Percy Bysshe Shelley was imperfect, but the world is better because of him.

Has your character had any affect on you in your everyday life?

Being required to memorize long excerpts from Shelley’s poetry has had an interesting effect on the way I see the world around me. When rehearsals for the show first started, I was focused strictly on memorization. I didn’t realize that I was training my brain to absorb some of the most beautiful pieces written in the Romantic period. I remember one specific time when after having memorized a large chunk from Shelley’s poem “Mont Blanc”, I went out on the balcony of my apartment for a break. The same balcony I had been on plenty of times before. But my eyes were suddenly open to the grandeur and green vibrancy of the trees in my backyard. My surroundings have become so much more alive, so vivid, since I’ve allowed myself to try and see the world that Shelley saw when he would write. Not many people have captured the beauty of nature in the way that he has.

What would these characters think of Howard Brenton’s script?

I have no damn idea.

How does playing a character based off of an actual historical figure differ from playing a completely fictional character? Which do you prefer?

Although portraying a real person has been an incredible experience, it is much more challenging for me as an actor. I would hate to do a disservice to someone as great as Bysshe Shelley. For example, being able to grasp who he was through his letters is such a great tool for an actor to use, but at what point do I have to draw the line between my own creative license within the play and what he “really” would have done. Or what he “really” would have thought. I have to keep reminding myself that although there are many opportunities to make acting choices based off of his real life, I have to keep my feet within Howard Brenton’s script, which already does that for me. It’s been a challenge to not think too hard about the Bysshe outside of this script. The audience won’t care if I read his letters. They want to see the beauty that is “Bloody Poetry”, and it really is so, so beautiful.

What kind of effect do you hope this production will have on audiences?

Oh, man. I could talk about this for days. What it all really comes down to in “Bloody Poetry” is to remember that beauty is deeply connected to pain. And light with darkness. I hope that everyone who comes out to see the show will leave inspired by the reality that not everything beautiful comes from a place of beauty. Never let the harshness of life jade the way you love. And never let your art consume your life. Even the Great Romantic Poets struggled. But nevertheless, as Lord Byron says, “Life goes on!”

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