Q: What is going on in the clip below?
Heather Callahan-Stevens: In rehearsing The Tempted, a one-woman show being created for me by writer/director Stephen Mitchell, we thought it would be fun to experiment and perform a section of the piece wherein the character is inebriated.
Q: What was the purpose of this exercise?
Heather Callahan-Stevens: The point was to not just pretend to play intoxicated, but to play drunk within the boundaries and particularities of the character rather than performing a cliché drunk.. She is a lot more reserved than I am, more concerned with maintaining her control. I tend to hug random people a lot more.
Q: How did you accomplish this?
Heather Callahan-Stevens: I kept the phrasing of the words I used when playing her “sober”, and exaggerated the emotional reactions to what she is saying, changing the more technical aspects such as the cadence of the sentences and emphasis of particular words in a sentence.
Q: What was the overall result of the exercise?
Heather Callahan-Stevens: It allowed my “sober” performance of the character to be a little free.
Q: What is House of Horrors: Kidnapped?
Heather: The Investigation Discovery channel has created a show that tells the stories of kidnapping victims and how they have managed to out-maneuver or otherwise escape their captors. My episode, Hospital of Horrors, tells the story of Margie Wyler, a nurse who protects her patients when a gunman bursts into her maternity ward and threatens to blow up the hospital.
Q: How did you play her?
Heather: I was the lead character in the episode. She is a resilient nurse who was taken hostage along with her patients, including a woman from the maternity ward. In fact, she had to deliver a baby while appeasing the erratic and violent captor and convincing him to surrender peacefully.
Q: What was interesting about the making of that show? What did you enjoy most?
Heather: I liked the fact that this character went through a full range of emotions. She wasn’t just a victim, she negotiated with the gunman for better conditions in which to deliver the baby, and mediated with the authorities for his surrender. However, during the ordeal, they were instructed to write farewell letters to their families and it was not at all clear that they would get out of the situation with their lives. She went from being overwhelmed to coming to grips with the situation and finally overcoming it.
Q: What did you appreciate about the experience?
Heather: I really like the work of Nate Scripture and DP Stefan Wiesen. I learned quite a bit from watching the decisions that they made and shots that they took. In fact, the entire cast and crew worked so well together, it was easy to fall into character and genuinely bond with each other.
Question: The Tempted is your latest project. What would you like to tell us about it?
Heather: It is a one-woman dramatic presentation which is being written for me by writer/director Stephen Mitchell. So it is the equivalent of doing a one-act play, in which I am the only actor.
Question: What kind of character are you playing?
Heather: She is a woman who has safeguarded herself by building a wall around every possible emotion that could upset her equilibrium, but that turns out to be an imperfect defense and she is rendered entirely vulnerable within a fraction of a second.
Question: What is the theme of The Tempted?
Heather: The story makes the point that whatever you have built your defenses to guard against will ultimately determine the battle you are destined to fight. One of life’s cruel ironies. She never again wanted to be raw and exposed to the seductive powers of a man and wouldn’t you know, it is exactly the turmoil she has invited into her life.
Question: At what stage is the project currently?
Heather: It is being written as we rehearse during Skype sessions I have with Stephen, and it’s coming along quite nicely. In fact, I am posting a recording of one of our rehearsal sessions, which will give you a feel for the piece.