An Interview with Allison Hetzel
A quality performer is bringing her poignant tale to the United Solo Festival, New York
Hello Allison, so where are you from and where are you at, geographically speaking?
I was born and raised in Southeastern Wisconsin in the town of Elkhorn. It is near Lake Geneva, which is a popular and beautiful place to visit. I currently live in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and have been living here since 2006 when I took a job at the University of Alabama in the Department of Theatre and Dance.
When did you first develop a passion for theatre?
I was in the fourth grade and was cast in a short play as a singing flower–the experience was memorable as I loved to sing and I got to wear fluorescent face paint that would glow in the black light. We also had a performance at local nursing home for the elderly–that was a moving experience for me at a young age.
What is it about performing that you love the most?
The connections made by revealing the human condition.
What for you makes a good piece of theatre?
I think that theatre should reflect life and in that reflection, I want to feel something and learn something. If it makes me laugh or cry along the way then it held my attention and I was able to escape from my own realties for a while. That can be so refreshing.
In your time you have performed at ancient theatres in Greece located at Argos and Spetses. Did you feel like you were communing with the spirits of your art?
Yes, it was such a powerful experience and working in those ancient theatres was breathtaking. I felt a complete sense of being grounded, and the connections we made as a cast in The Trojan Women are something that I will never forget, and that was over twenty years ago.
You’ve got three famous figures from history coming round for dinner. Who would they be & what would you cook; starter, mains & dessert?
Hmmm, these are always the hardest questions for me. I would start with a light summer salad (spinach, corn, feta, watermelon), followed by seared salmon with a maple-mustard glaze and finish with a Key Lime Pie. My guest list would be: Georgia O’Keeffe, Lillian Hellman, and Joan of Arc.
So, you’re bringing your show, STEP MAMA DRAMA!, to this year’s United Solo Festival . Can you tell us about it?
This show is inspired by my personal experience as stepmom and also includes monologues and moments shared by others who I interviewed for the project. My goal is to show various sides of this complex and often difficult relationship. I also spent time talking with stepchildren as well. When I told people about this show, many began to share their own perspectives on blended families. I listened closely and let them know that what they communicated to me could become part of my show.
You performed STEP MAMA DRAMA! at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe, how did you find your time in Scotland?
My time in Scotland at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe was amazing and exhausting, I love being surrounded by the arts in a great city.
What emotive responses do you hope to invoke in your audience?
I hope that others can connect to some of these stories, people, and think about the wide variety of stepparent and stepchild relationships often found in the blended family.
You’ve got 20 seconds to sell the show to somebody in the streets of New York…
Hi, if you are stepmom, have a stepmom or have a blended family experience this is a show for you! When and where: Sunday, November 3, at 6:00PM part of the United Solo Festival at Theatre Row, Off-Broadway in the studio theatre.
United Solo Theatre Festival
410 West 42nd Street, NYC