10 questions: Laura Nordin

1) What the fuck is going on?
Risk. At least that’s what I hope is going on right now. It’s exciting.

2) How do you feel about your time at the Institute for Advanced Theatre Training in Boston?
Awesome. I wouldn’t change a thing. I am different because of my training there. My body, voice, confidence, knowledge of self, and especially the consistency in my acting improved. All the training and rigor has ignited a sense of what is possible and what there is to explore for me as an actor. It didn’t really provide me with answers. It was about asking questions and enjoying the process. It provided me with the exploration of different techniques and has helped me to voice my questions.

3) As an actor, what are you better at now than you were five years ago?
I am better at auditioning. What I mean to say is that I am able to get excited about an audition and excited about the preparation for it instead of sabotaging myself over and over again. I am constantly searching for how to make auditioning a work of art. Progress is slow, but better than five years ago.

4) What do you look for in a director?
A director who communicates their vision with passion and generosity. One who enjoys challenging themselves and all those involved in bringing the story to life for the audience. A director who loves the audience and who loves actors.

5) What does feminism mean to you?
Wow. This is a really big question. Feminism for me is about bringing the stories of women to audiences. To create more female-driven stories and more female roles that are exciting and complex. To tell stories that haven’t been told because they were taboo or hushed in the past.

Feminism isn’t just about equality for me. It’s about the beautiful diversity that women add to this life. Women’s stories are men’s stories, children’s stories, stories of countries and cultures. These stories must be celebrated and debated. Personally, I feel that there are fewer roles for complex female characters in theatre, television, and film than there are for men. It’s getting better, but growth is slower than I wish for it to manifest.

Laura Nordin and James Murray in a workshop for an upcoming Praxis Theatre production.

6) Do you have any unifying theories about theatre and its relationship to community?
I simply feel it is symbiotic. Theatre moves and transforms as does the community around it and sometimes it’s the community that asks for the theatre to create something that speaks to the community and other times it’s the theatre that creates and ignites community. No theories here, just feelings of togetherness and opposition that make me love this constant dialogue.

7) What is your fondest memory of being on stage?
I’ve been blessed to work with amazing artists. This is genuinely how I feel. My fondest memory . . . it might be the night I went on as an understudy at A.R.T. in Chuck Mee’s Snow In June. I was given six hours notice (Thank God!) and backstage I started to pace and worry because I heard the announcement over the speakers about my being the understudy for Qian Yi (an opera singer everyone had paid to see sing six arias in Chinese – gulp), followed by silence, and then the deafening sound of the rustling of programs looking for my bio. In that moment of terror, Rob Campbell came over and put his hands on both my shoulders looked into my eyes to steady me and said with the kindest smile, “You know the blocking and the lines . . . now it’s time to tell the story. Your job is to tell the story and have fun doing it.”

The moment was off stage, but it definitely made that night stand out. It was exhilarating. When I was on stage throughout the performance I felt transported. I didn’t think. It was a wonderful thing to let go of expectations and to just be telling the story. I search for that feeling, the letting go, in every performance.

Margaret Evans and Laura Nordin in a press still for Dyad.

8) Do you have a working definition of what it means to be an artist?
Being an artist is whatever I make it to mean on any given day. I feel very vulnerable. Whether I am teaching, auditioning for a commercial, or writing a screenplay, there is this minute sense of fear. It can be difficult and wonderful at the same time. For me, it means I am working for myself and hopefully contributing to my community. I believe in entertainment, in challenging the status quo, and in sharing thoughts and knowledge. I have a lot of freedom in my life. The only restrictions are ones I create for myself, which is a lot of responsibility and can be quite sobering in the tougher times. I love that I essentially choose to play every day.

9) What could Praxis Theatre be doing better, from an organizational standpoint?
Oh. Well . . . there are lots of things that I wish I knew more about from an administrative point of view. I would like to be more organized. To have someone extremely business-focused. Someone to keep us on track financially and administratively. I think we are doing the best we can with the skill sets we all bring to the table and we are all learning a lot about how to keep things moving forward and growing, but I feel we need one person who is really focused and dedicated to the inner workings of how to support the creative work we all love to do.

10) Why acting?
Because I have always loved it. I almost pee my pants every time I’m about to go on stage. I love the adrenaline. There is nothing like being on stage and newly discovering the lines with your scene partner after having done the same scene for the past month or more and just now, right here and now, you are both finding it new again and it’s like flying or like rolling down a grassy hill together. I just feel so alive. I don’t want to do anything else. The connections I make with the people involved and, of course, the audience. When the audience is hanging on your every word and every move it’s like no other feeling on Earth. In the “dark times” I genuinely pray that if I’m supposed to be doing something else that it will reveal itself to me, but that’s when I usually land a gig or read a play that inspires me or have a great conversation with someone and I get back on track. I am thankful that prayer hasn’t been answered yet.