Photo by Brian McConkey
A few months back I blogged about The Landmark Project, an inspired but uneven ode to Chicago comprised of twelve short plays. Though I’m not wildly enthusiastic about watching pre-teens riff on The Wizard of Oz, my patience paid off when Victoria Blade hit the stage. In Laura Jacqmin’s quirky “Logan and Milwaukee,” Blade showed off both her singing voice and comedic timing, and everyone from Hedy Weiss to my mother agreed she stole the show. Opening tonight in Slingshot Productions Low, Blade delighted my mother by making time to speak with Our Town. (No word yet on how Hedy feels.)
Our Town You studied theatre at Western Michigan. Do you think a degree is necessary?
Victoria Blade I loved college, but, no, I don't think a degree is absolutely necessary. What is most imperative for getting work as an actor is focus and work ethic. But for me, college was exactly what I needed at the time. College provided the freedom to focus solely on developing my artistic skills. It gave me time to be young. I had amazing professors that encouraged and believed in me. Starting out in this career, you don't get a ton of artistic liberty. It's more about learning business and marketing skills, so I'm glad for my time at Western when all I had to think about was the art.
OT Looks like you’ve been working consistently since moving to Chicago in 2010. What’s the Chicago acting scene like for a newcomer?
VB I didn't know what to expect coming here. I just put my head down and started researching and auditioning all the time. Slowly, things began to unfold. I have now been here a year and I have met so many wonderful people. I am truly overwhelmed by the warm welcome I received from the Chicago theatre scene.
OT In The Landmark Project you got the chance to do a lot of singing. What’s your voice background?
VB My Dad loves to play this cassette tape recording of me singing "Jesus Loves Me" when I was two years old. I keep forgetting the words but I refuse to let him help me sing the song. I think that tape still pretty much sums it up. I come from a big family of musicians so it's in our genes I guess.
OT Hedy Weiss specifically mentioned your performance. What was that like for you?
VB That was a total surprise. I went into this project thinking, "This will be fun." I didn't even know there were going to be reviews. So to be mentioned by these major Chicago theatre critics was incredibly exciting.
OT How do you tackle a given role?
VB I don't really have a set method for approaching a role. Some roles require more work than others, depending on how much I relate or don't relate to the character. When a role is particularly difficult, I do a lot of journaling. Writing really helps me. Or approaching a role physically; that is, beginning with the physical life of the character. I'm starting to realize that what works best for me is to just stick with my instincts.