American Players Theatre
5950 Golf Course Road
P.O. Box 819
Spring Green, WI 53588
Box Office: 608-588-2361
APT's Quick Chat Series is a chance to get to know the folks around APT. This week we talk to Phoebe González, whose sophomore APT season features her in a trio of comedies.
APT: How long have you been at APT and what are your roles this summer?
Phoebe: This is my second season, but my first full season at APT. I play Fabian in Twelfth Night, Constance in She Stoops to Conquer, and the Compositor (whom we have named Polly) in The Book of Will.
APT: Tell us about yourself: Where are you based, and what path led you to acting?
Phoebe: I live and work in Chicago, but I’m from New York originally (specifically Washington Heights) and probably a little too proud of it. I, like every other 8-year-old I knew at the time, was convinced I was going to be a veterinarian until I saw an audition flyer for a local community theater. My dad’s an artist and my mom was an actor for many years, and both have since confessed to me how hard they were working to not let their love of the arts influence me one way or the other…But I found that audition flyer all on my own. From that first production of Free to Be You and Me I was hooked. I kept doing community theater, I was lucky enough to attend a high school with incredible arts programming, and I studied acting and musical theater in college. I’ve been very fortunate to make a life of this.
APT: It is your second season here at APT! How does it feel to be back playing in the woods? How did last year prepare you for this year?
Phoebe: Oh man, I still don’t even have the language to talk about my experience last year! Coming to APT in the middle of the season to do Heartbreak House with a cast made up almost entirely of veteran company members, having never done Shaw, having never done outdoor theater before, was one of the hardest things I’ve ever faced. I learned so much so quickly – about language, specificity, vulnerability, and collaboration – and I’ve carried those lessons with me into every audition and every rehearsal room since.
All of which is to say, I’m over the moon to be back. This season I’ve got a bit more breathing room because I’m dedicating less brain space to acclimating. I have a much stronger understanding of classical work and the vocal technique required for that outdoor space, but equally importantly I’ve found a community now. Feeling that space has already been carved out for you, that you might even belong somewhere, always makes it easier to do your best work. Not to mention, I get to do three COMEDIES! The wacky, almost farcical worlds I get to inhabit this year are a departure from the nonsensical and at-times hostile world of last season’s Heartbreak House, and it’s such a gift to find that my experience can be so vastly different, even under the same stars and with the same company of artists.
APT: You started the summer playing Fabian in Twelfth Night and Constance Neville in She Stoops to Conquer. The two characters feel very different. How do you feel that they are similar?
Phoebe: Oh, I love this question! They do present very differently – and I understood them as very different; but the longer I live with them, the more I see how they overlap. Yes, Fabian swaggers around with an asymmetrical haircut and Constance is essentially dressed as an 18th-century confection, but at their cores these are two whip-smart people that are consumed with longing. For Fabian that need is about belonging, about finding people who see her and recognize all that shines about her. In rehearsal we found this lovely family dynamic developing between Fabian, Maria, and Toby because these are two adults in her life who finally recognize her cunning and her wit, and think to nurture it. Constance on the other hand has been trying to marry for literally years. Everything she plots, all the hijinks she stumbles face-first into, are with the express intention of obtaining the means to finally get out of that house and marry the man she loves. Who coincidentally also happens to recognize her as the complex, smart, flawed human she is and treats her as such.
APT: Along those same lines, what have you enjoyed most about playing these characters this season?
Phoebe: It’s impossible not to have a great time when I’m doing physical comedy, especially because I never considered that to be a part of my wheelhouse. It is equally impossible not to enjoy myself beside the kind, talented, and at times truly bonkers scene partners I get to work with this year.
APT: Your next show of the summer is The Book of Will. What has surprised you the most about rehearsing for the show?
Phoebe: I don’t know if surprise is the right word, but what struck me from the first read was how fulfilling it would be to just sit in the back of the rehearsal hall and watch the play unfold. I’m not a major character in Book of Will, so I get a lot of time to observe, and the caliber of work being done by the actors playing central roles has been so gratifying to soak up.
APT: When not on stage, what are your hobbies and how do you like spending your time?
Phoebe: I read a lot. When I’m the best version of myself I write a lot too, even if it’s just journaling. I love cooking, especially in a loud kitchen crowded by people I love with strong, differing opinions about the best way to prepare whatever meal we’re making.
APT: If you had a time machine where you could go either in the past or to the future to meet one person, what year would you visit, and who would the person be?
Phoebe: I’m working at a classical theater, which means I’m obligated to say Shakespeare right? I don’t know, I would have loved to have been a guest of James Baldwin’s when he debated William F. Buckley in the ‘60s.