Bravery isn’t cut and dry, it takes a lot of strength to face everyday life head-on, especially during a global pandemic. Inis Nua Theatre’s latest show from Welsch playwright Siân Owen showcases that exact struggle that we, as humans, go through every day. The American premiere of ‘How to be Brave’ will star Alice Yorke, Philadelphia Magazine’s 2019 Best Theatre Talent in Philadelphia, and will be directed by Barrymore Award-nominated director and Inis Nua Founder and Artistic Director Tom Reing.
The show, which will be pre-recorded follows Katie (played by Yorke) during a hectic morning that goes from bad to worse. The official descriptions reads: “Overwhelmed, Katie runs out the door and on a wild ride through Newport, Wales. Featuring a stolen BMX bike, a quick dip in the River Usk, and an impromptu public dance number, ‘How to be Brave’ is an uplifting reminder of how our hometowns shape who we are.”
Yorke sat down with Metro to discuss more on what went into crafting Inis Nua’s latest production during COVID-19, and what she hopes the show will do for all of us who have been affected by it.
How did you get your start in the theater world?
I feel like I’ve been performing ever since I was a kid. I have a little joke that my first role was my best role because I played the Baby Jesus in the Christmas pageant when I was six months old —and where can you go from there? But I was performing in plays and musicals all throughout middle school and high school, I was always making backyard circuses with my friends and terrorizing our parents with that. Then I went on and studied theater in college and I moved to Philly in 2011… I had been living in New York and working up in New York City, but I stayed in Philly because there was such a rich theater scene here. I wanted to stay and be part of it.
What interested you to want to sign on with this project specifically?
I just felt so connected to it, when I read it, it made me think about why it’s a piece about mothers and daughters. So, I thought about my mother, I thought about my sister, and I thought about my best friend and her daughter and the way she looks at and talks about her daughter. Also in the middle of the pandemic, it’s a piece about having a really hard day and being really, really scared, which certainly felt very easy to relate to. Many of us have the best intentions and the worst coping mechanisms that felt very relatable.
The pandemic definitely threw a wrench in everyone’s plans, how was dealing with that with a career in theater?
It was really hard. All of my work that I had lined up or was lining up for myself dried up for a year and the same thing for all of my friends and the whole community. I know a lot of us spent several months just in shock, I mean, no idea what to do next. It was really amazing after an incredibly dormant year to get an email across your desk saying, ‘We’d like you to come and audition for this show.’
What can you tell me about your character in ‘How to be Brave?’
Katie is a librarian and single mother, and she has a very sort of dry and cheeky sense of humor. The play is full of lots of her little jokes about herself and jokes about other people, and all in good fun. She’s a person who loves really deeply where she’s from, she lives in Newport in Wales. She feels about Newport, [the same way] I think the way a lot of folks who were born and raised in Philadelphia feel about living in Philly, which is like a fierce, fierce pride and loyalty. Even in the face of trash on the street and graffiti on the walls and broken systems and strange quirks, she just looks [at it] with so much love. She’s a person with a really big heart and a great attitude and a kid she loves to the end of the world. She does struggle with how to not let fear get the best of you, which I think a lot of us can relate to.
You had to film with a green screen for this particular production. How was that, and what do you think that element will add to the show?
It’s wild. It’s so different. I don’t work in film and television, I only work on stage right now or up until this point. I [normally] rely on using my body the way I would if there was an audience of people right in front of me, which is a really different perspective than if there’s a camera lens in front of me. So I had to really rely on the rest of the artistic team who was zooming in to when we were filming to say, like, OK, well, we can’t see you or, if you do it like that, you need to move your body in a different angle. In the end, we will see the green screen and I will be partners in the video experience, but the green screen for me was just the background…Nothing I was interacting within a given moment.
What do you hope audiences take away from the show?
There’s a line Katie says in the play: “It’s all still in us.” That’s that’s been one of my big takeaways. I hope other people leave with whatever you feel like you’re missing right now, whether it’s connection or whether it’s bravery or whether it’s literally the energy to get up and do what you need to do. It’s still there, It’s still there somewhere. I know that’s been something I’ve been feeling pretty deeply and trying to remind myself this time.
‘How to be Brave’ will be recorded in advance and available for on-demand virtual viewing only from 12:01 a.m. on April 14 through midnight on April 25. Tickets are $10 – $15. For reservations and more information, visit inisnuatheatre.org.