Due to previously sold-out runs and growing interest in The Amoralists, the company has remounted Derek Ahonen's The Pied Piper of the Lower East Side and Happy In The Poorhouse at PS122 this month. Sarah Lemp, who is a major force in both plays, takes a quick break from shows and rehearsals to talk to Theaterspeak about her work.
How did you get involved with The Amoralists?
I met Derek, Matt and James almost 10 years ago while we were in school together. It wasn't until last year when Pipers opened at PS 122, that I first worked with them. They had asked me to work on earlier projects, but I was never able to due to other conflicts.
The Pied Piper of The Lower East Side is in rep with Happy in the Poorhouse, with you playing very dynamic characters in both. How would you describe Mary (Poorhouse) in contrast to Dear (Pied Piper)?
Dear is interesting. She's almost like a puppet master, filling the other characters' heads with her philosophies on life and then she sort of floats above the action of the play, watching her philosophies play out. And then in Act 3, she's forced into the action because she's stripped of everything and her ideas about life are made void.
Mary, on the other hand, is very much in the thick of everything. She sees the whole day that the play takes place about her. She's waiting for her ex husband and she wants answers and everything that happens is an interruption. Her questions are never answered for her, but they are for the audience.
Where do you see Dear in ten years? What about Mary?
I've always questioned Dear's commitment to her ideals. When it all is turned upside down, I think she probably gets together with Donovan and resumes her old life more or less. Mary and Paulie have babies and live happily ever after.
Both shows require a great deal of energy. What do you do to take care of yourself as an actor?
The energy that both shows require is really more a collective energy. Both casts really work off each other and give a lot, so I don't think about it in terms of what I need to do specifically. If someone is lagging, we all pitch in to buoy that person up.
Any advice for actors/actresses on sustaining themselves in the bizzzzzness?
In my life, I've tried to stick to working on projects that I really love and believe in. I try to be a part of things that are exciting and I love it when a project scares me. If I'm scared and not sure if I'm capable, I'm in.
Anything coming up that you want to tell us about?
I'm very excited to be working with Adam Rapp in the fall. The Amoralists are producing his play, Ghosts in the Cottonwoods, which he will be directing, so I'll be working with many of the same people. I really, really enjoy working with these guys. They're amazing.
Pied Piper closes on August 9th and Happy in the Poorhouse opens Thursday August 12th through the 23rd. For more information, go here.