Meet Blair Nodelman, one of seven amazing actors working on ATB’s new documentary theatre project This Place/Displaced, to give voice to stories of displacement, gentrification, and housing inequity in Boston.
We chatted with Blair to find out a little bit more about her experience rehearsing This Place/Displaced.
Join us at Charlestown Working Theater August 17-25 for This Place/Displaced to see what Blair and her fellow actors have been hard at work on.
What attracted you to this project?
I always really wanted to work with Josh and was initially draw to audition because he was attached to it. However, the real kicker was the content. As someone who is always trying to contextualize theatre and art as a whole within politics, whether it comments directly or not, this piece spoke to me as a something that just needed to be produced. I wanted to be involved, in whatever capacity was appropriate and help make sure this story was told.
What has the rehearsal process been like? Would you share a particularly funny or impactful moment?
I mean any time Trinidad [Ramkissoon] has suggested backflips or a musical number has been a delight. I think what has been so great about this particular rehearsal process is the transparency. We know this is not only new work but TIMELY work and that comes with its own set of challenges. However, I know that every time I go to rehearsal I am going to be surrounded by lovely people doing even more lovely work, that makes it worth it. It’s funny, we’re performing shows about community and home, yet it feels like we’ve built our own little home amongst it all.
What has been the most challenging part of the process?
Most of the characters I play are pretty awful human beings and that has been a challenge because I know these people exist out there in the world. Regardless of my own politics, it’s imperative that I recognize these people out in the world and change what I can. It’s not enough to be a bystander anymore, especially now, and walking away from rehearsal empowered to do more is necessary. Yes, I play a lot of villains and sometimes they win, but I can make sure they don’t always.
Have you ever worked on documentary or interview-based theatre before? In what capacity?
I’ve never personally worked on documentary style theatre, but I’ve seen a lot of it in action. It really puts the stories that need to be told on stage in a more much immediate way. When you remember that documentary theatre is based on someone’s lived experiences, you’re suddenly sucked into the politics of a piece much more abruptly. And you’re hearing their voice. You’re hearing their story. It’s an amazing process, really, and an honor to be trusted with these stories.
Have you worked on new plays before? What’s it like?
I haven’t worked on a published play since winter of 2016, and honestly, its been a gift to work on so much new work in just these past two years. Beyond just my role as an actor, I’m also a company member of Fresh Ink Theatre and my exposure to the immense writing talent of New England through them has been so amazing. I’ve read so many incredible plays. Plays that have made me laugh, made me cry, made me angry, and made me look at the world with a brand new perspective. There is nothing more gratifying than watching a playwright watch their play be staged for the first time. That moment, where their eyes light up, it’s the absolute best.
How is working on a series of short plays different from working on one long play?
I personally love working on short plays. It’s one of my favorite formats and is so challenging as an actor to make a full character arc in just 10 pages, only to immediately switch to another character for the next 10. You have the ability to touch so much more art, so many more unique voices, and help put them on stage. I think that’s really powerful and exhilarating.
What is your connection tot he Boston area and how has this city impacted your life?
I moved here for college and I’m the only one from my family really on this side of the country, which is really interesting because suddenly I’m the spokesperson for Boston and Massachusetts culture for my family. Boston has turned me into an adult. I moved 2500 miles for college, graduated, got my first “adult” job, and became a young person here separate from my family’s identity. That’s huge and I think I will always carry a piece of Boston with me wherever I go (I literally have the state flower of MA tattooed on me so it’s there forever). Boston has been incredibly giving, but also hard. It’s expensive, it’s competitive, it’s very different from where I grew up in the southwest. But it’s home. At least for now. And I’m totally okay with that.
What have you learned from this process?
I’ve learned to listen more and to take a back seat sometimes. I’m a vocal human, but sometimes listening is more powerful than words. And I have the generosity of the cast and rehearsal team to thank for that.
Learn more about Blair!
Blair Nodelman is thrilled to make her ATB debut! Previous credits include Sleeping Weazel: Picture This (Self); TC Squared Theatre Company: Crossing Flight (Laoine); FUSION Theatre Company: The Harsh (Hannah) and Humble Boy (Rosie Pye); Commonwealth Shakespeare Company: Measure for Measure (Pompey); Tufts University: Clytemnestreia (Clytemnestra/Dionysus), The King Stag (Leander), Gruesome Playground Injuries (Kayleen), Macbeth (Witch), and Eleemosynary (Echo). She is a recent graduate of Tufts University and will be heading to Emerson College this fall for her MA in Political Communication. She is currently the Marketing Fellow at ArtsEmerson and Marketing Coordinator at Fresh Ink Theatre. Much love to her friends and family for all their support!
This Place/Displaced is performing at the Charlestown Working Theatre on at 8pm August 17, 18, 24, and 25. Tickets from $10. Join us to hear the stories of our eight amazing community partners from across the city of Boston. Plus, check out an exhibit of our community partners’ own artwork and writing in the lobby and pick up ATB’s original zine about the history and current climate of gentrification in Boston.