BEGONYA PLAZA is Hannah Heiber in RONENSBOURGH

 

Begoña Plaza is backed up by an impressive CV as an actress in the United States. She studied acting in Los Angeles at the LACC Theatre Academy, as well as independently, with Eric Morris, and then she moved to New York, where she continued her training with Herbertb Berghof, Geraldine Page, and Michael Howard.

Begoña has worked in film with directors of the stature of Oliver Stone, Michael Mann, Tim Huber and Clint Eastwood among others.

As a director and scriptwriter, she has directed documentaries, such as ¨Gernika Lives¨, about the Spanish Civil War and ¨Souvenirs Views¨, which has won awards at fesivals including the Tribeca Film Festival and the La Havana International Festival.

Meanwhile, she has had a prolific theatrical career, being directed by Philip Seymor Hoffman as well as collaborating in various plays Off Broadway like ¨Teresa’s Ecstasy¨ at the Cherry Lane Theatre, for example.

She is currently involved in ¨A Lucid Dream¨, a play about Dolores Ibarruti and Eva Perón at the same time as in ¨Ronesbourgh¨, AENY’s new Main Stage production, directed by Ignacio García-Bustelo.

Tell us about what you are up to in New York, how you got here and something about your professional career.

I came to New York in 1984, after having studied for two years in an academy of university theatre and I began to work in Hollywood. I wanted to train in the same way as the actors I most admired who graduated from Actor’s Studio. I noticed how they had learnt to become autentic representations of the human condition. I have always been very keen on the creative work process, investigation, life’s adventures and the discovery of the insides and outs of the business and glamour of Hollywood. My daughter is already independent. She graduated last year. She works in a technological company here in the city. So, I can dedicate myself entirely to my passion for creativity without any exterior pressure. I have a magnificent partner and peace, which allow me to be able to let loose chaotic emotions within theatrical art.

How are the rehearsals for the play going? How are you working?

We started off, the first weeks, working on a base of physical exercises to aid relaxation and intimate personal moments for each actor. Once we had connected with something personal to be able to get under the skin of the characters, we moved on to the stage of working on the scenes, already emotionally prepared and in touch with conflict and relationships, in the context of the script, the style of the play, the situation and the settings of the it. We always worked alongside the sensible director and invariably following his artistic vision.

What do you think of the play you are preparing? What about the script?

The script grabbed my attention and the experimental structure of the play at its essence. I liked the minimalist and expressionist aspects of it and that it does not jump on the bandwagon of the typical format of theatre when the drama is realist. It reminded me somewhat of Samuel Becket’s plays, which are melancholic, philosophical and literary. It is certainly not easy to follow on first reading. Still, it leaves strong impressions, with a deep feeling and it raises curiosity. These inquisitivenesses and the uncertainty and my admiration for who Ignacio is all made me accept to take on this collaboration.

What about your character? How are you preparing her? What is her place in the development of the story?

My character is harsh, filled with moments of great suffering and fear. Her world is mine, and ours now. It is empty because of the technological advances which tear us apart and unbalance us economically and socially in our culture of consumption, paranoia and irresponsibility.

What do you think organizations like AENY offer Spanish artists in a city like New York?

AENY gives us the opportunity to improve our Spanish-speaking culture and to present projects which are characterised by their artistic merit and courage to express universal truths. Not only does AENY attract the attention of the general public, but also to appeal to the quality of thought and to raise our creativity. AENY drives us to unite in the theatre and to do things to change the status of mediocrity we are now in. It inspire us to think out of the box, unlike that which they feed us day after day on most media sources. It helps us to unite our community with complicated stories which are also honest and delightful. AENY opens doors of opportunity to people who are young and talented or, perhaps not. But, with new ideas, transformative energy, who are dedicated workers with a sense of humour, innocence and love.

Finally, what would you most like the audience to take away from the performance as a thought or an impression?

I would love the audience to be surprised by the unexpected, something that makes them think it over, feel for it and want to return to the theatre again and again. I hope they feel attracted and a part of a world which is sensitive, deep and honest.  Hopefully, they will feel identified with it in a new and magical way.

Interview: Victoria Freire