Bristol Riverside Theatre is kicking off their 2019 season with a show that is truly larger than life. “An Act of God” follows the story of God and her devoted angels as they voice their outlook on life, free will and humankind overall. The show comes from three-time Emmy winner and former “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” writer David Javerbaum, and stars “In Living Color” alum Kim Wayans as the omnipotent lead role. When searching for her leading lady, director Susan D. Atkinson chose Wayans for her outspoken persona, commanding presence and ultimate dedication to powerful characters — and Wayans couldn’t be more excited to take on the challenge.
Wayans sat down with Metro to discuss her role, her love of performing onstage and what she hopes audiences take away from the thought-provoking show.
What’s your career been like in the theater world?
I’ve done some theater. I did a one-woman show years ago and that was my first journey into the onstage world. Then, a few years ago, I started “Barbeque” at the Public Theater, so that was my second outing. Now this will be my third, so I guess in some ways, I’m pretty new to the theater. But I love it. There’s really nothing like it, it’s very challenging and I wanted to do more theater so I’m happy this came my way.
What first intrigued you about playing the role of God?
An offer was made for me to do this role, and I just felt like the role of playing God was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down. I liked the script, and it’s a really, really funny play, so it was all exciting to me — all of it, the role, the script, just everything.
What do you like about acting onstage compared to acting for TV or movies?
Well, I love the fact that you’re performing in front of an audience, so the feedback is immediate. There’s an energy in the room that feeds you, and you’re feeding [it] back to the people. That’s something that is really exciting to me and also something that is lost when you’re doing TV or movies — unless, of course, you’re doing a sitcom or something. But there really is nothing like that exchange you get with acting onstage. It’s very liberating in a lot of ways because it’s a different kind of art. With television and film, you usually have to play smaller, but in the theater, you’re playing to the back of the room, no matter how large the venue is. So you have to project yourself so that everybody feels that energy. It’s a challenge but it’s exciting.
Is theater something you want to continue with?
Yes, definitely. I want to do television and film as well, but I definitely want theater to be in that mix. I love it, you get a chance every night. Every time you come out onstage you can bring something new to what you’re doing or take it to another level. You get to work it in ways you don’t get to when you’re in front of the camera and you’ve only got three takes to get it together. So you get to live with your character for a while and I like that.
What are some challenges of bringing God to life onstage?
I guess the biggest challenge is finding a way of doing this so that it allows the audience to stay with you and to like you despite the insanity that might be on display. I’m going over my lines and really trying to absorb the character and get into what is truly motivating me. You know, all that sort of actor-like stuff.
What elements do you think a female will bring to this role?
We’ve only seen, for the most part, God played as a man. [Having a woman] play God doesn’t really change the text at all, it just changes the larger context of women in powerful positions and being seen in that kind of omnipotent way, with that kind of authority. So it speaks to the culture going on right now. But the specifics of the piece are not, “Oh this is different because it’s coming from a woman.” At least, I don’t see it that way.
What do you want audiences to take away from the show in general?
Well, I want audiences to be entertained and to be humored by it, but ultimately, I want them to also think. Think about the ways they think of God, and if those ways are healthy or unhealthy, and how that permeates their life and how it permeates the larger world that we live in with those ideas about God, and what we think he or she wants from mankind. So that’s what I hope. But it’s funny, it’s hilarious, it’s irreverent and all that. But ultimately I think it’s thought-provoking.
Catch “An Act of God” at Bristol Riverside Theatre (120 Radcliffe St., Bristol) Sept. 17-Oct. 13. For tickets and more information on the show, visit brtstage.org.