As we told you in last month’s issue of the magazine, Washington, known mostly as a government and politics kind of town, has steadily become a mecca for young, talented performers. These actors, musicians, and dancers are not only making their mark but also changing—enriching—the region’s cultural landscapes. For Richmond-born actress Meghan Grady, the theater scene in particular has benefited from this talent boom: “DC theatre is thriving,” she says. ”There is theater for everybody!”
Grady would know. Since moving to the area three years ago, she’s been involved in a number of productions—starting with her debut in Synetic Theatre’s The Dybbuk to the role of Karen in Theatre J’s Speed-the-Plow (her favorite bit of acting yet) to the upcoming Round House Theatre production of Alice, an adaptation of Alice in Wonderland. Grady will play the title role.
Grady, who when not rehearsing for a show or audition can be found working out at the gym or working part time as a staff member for Synetic Theatre, took some time to answer our questions.
Name: Meghan Grady
Must-have item at all times:
Can I have two? A water bottle and good lip gloss.
A glass of Pinot Grigio.
Finish this sentence: When not working, you can find me . . .
. . . working! If I’m not onstage or in rehearsals, I’m usually studying for an upcoming show or audition, at the gym trying to stay in shape, or finding other ways to make money. I guess that makes me a workaholic, but at least the work is fun and ever-changing. I’m never plagued with boredom.
Washingtonians you admire:
Paata and Irina Tsikurishvili, the founders of Synetic Theater, are two great Washingtonians. They’ve not only built their own theater company from the ground up, but they continuously produce quality work that is unlike anything else in this area. The work is physically demanding, visually stunning, emotionally charged, and as an actor I completely trust their artistic vision. I’m so grateful that they’ve given me such a solid home base as a company member.
Favorite neighborhood in Washington:
Dupont and Adams Morgan are fun. Sometimes it’s hard to get away from the rigid corporate feel in DC, but the city takes on a different vibe in those neighborhoods. I also like Capitol Hill in the fall. In a way, it reminds me of my hometown, Richmond.
Washington insider tips:
Rosemary’s Thyme Bistro in Dupont has a great Monday happy hour with half-price bottles of wine. Also, renting a canoe or a kayak from Thompson Boat Center near Georgetown is a fun, cheap way to spend a beautiful afternoon with a cute boy . . . or girl, if that’s your preference.
Finish this sentence: Thinking about the Metro makes me . . .
. . . wish you could hop on a train at anytime of night. What’s up with the Metro closing so early?
Oooh, that’s hard. Jean-Paul Sartre, David Mamet, and Sarah Ruhl, to name a few.
What would you change about Washington?
Add more Metro stops and put Obama in office [Ed. note: Wish granted!].
As you answer these questions, what Web sites are open in your browser?
Gmail, Yahoo, and Pandora radio.
When did you first catch the acting bug, and was your career choice supported by your parents and family?
I think I caught the acting bug while I was still in the womb, which is weird because my mom is a nurse and my dad is a chemist. One would not assume that the combo would produce an actor, but they’ve always been supportive. They never pushed me one way or the other. It was all about what made me happy. I will admit, every so often I wish they would’ve encouraged me to be a doctor or a lawyer, but then I come to my senses. I have the best job in the world.
What do you think is interesting or unique about the theater community in Washington?
When I first moved here, I was so surprised to see how big the theater scene was, and three years later it’s still growing. There is theater for everybody! Whether you’re looking for one of Shakespeare’s masterpieces or a funky, off-the-wall world premiere, you can always find something to strike your fancy. DC theater is thriving. The words ‘theater’ and ‘thriving’ in the same sentence? What a wonderful thing!
What are some of the more difficult or challenging roles you’ve had to play?
With every role come new challenges, and that’s what makes working as an actor so exciting and unpredictable. I just finished up Maria/Stuart at Woolly Mammoth a few weeks ago, and in that production I had to learn Schiller’s ‘Ode to Joy’ in German. I don’t speak any German in real life, and that poem is long. That was quite a challenge, but now I have a hidden talent to break out at parties. People will say, “Wow, that girl over there is speaking really bad German! She’s so cool.”
Do you have a preference when it comes to traditional and contemporary theater?
I feel like my strengths lie in contemporary work because I’m usually cast as a character similar to myself, but there’s something exhilarating about working with classics. With classical theater, I have to step outside my comfort zone and tap into my instincts while dealing with the challenges of elevated language, text, and costumes. It makes me work harder, and I like that. Plus, exercising the technique involved in classical theater keeps me well rounded as an actor.
Can you share a funny or embarrassing anecdote about something that happened to you while performing onstage?
I was playing one of the three witches in Synetic’s Macbeth last year. We were in the middle of this really intense dance sequence, and somehow I managed to trip over my own feet and fall flat on my butt. But the fun doesn’t stop there. As I fell, my costume—a lovely leather, strappy, dominatrix-looking ensemble—popped open, and of course I panicked. Quickly, I jumped offstage to try to snap it back together, but nothing could be done. The clasp was totally broken, so I did what any brave actor would’ve done in that situation: I jumped back onstage and finished the scene with the top half of my costume falling off. The audience should’ve been charged extra that night.
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