Alumna Emilie Krause remembers making a goal for herself as she was cast in her first professional production in Philadelphia.
“My first [professional show] for Brat [Productions] was in the basement of Lantern Theater,” Krause, a 2010 theater graduate, said. “I knew the bigger theater was upstairs and I was this little actor at the very ground floor working in this sort of smelly basement and so the Lantern was golden in my eyes because it was the height of professional theater.”
Four years later, Krause is currently starring as Lucrece in Lantern Theater Company’s production of “The Liar.” Krause takes on the role as one of the leads in the play.
Set in 17th century France, “The Liar” follows the story of Dorante, a slick-talking bachelor who has just arrived in Paris in search of some fun. Immediately he meets Lucrece and Clarice. Although he falls for the latter of the two ladies, he mixes their names up and thus the hijinks begin as Dorante’s web of lies grows.
Translated from the comedy by Pierre Corneille, playwright David Ives’ adaptation contains contemporary verse in iambic pentameter, but director Kathryn MacMillan said she made sure the play did not sound too much like a Dr. Seuss book.
“It’s very smart and very silly, and kind of obscene in a really delightful way,” MacMillan said on the dialogue. “Part of that’s us. It’s an invitation to play with the beautiful and the profane.”
MacMillan said she credits Krause’s audition for opening her up to different ways the character of Lucrece could be portrayed.
“I had many different ideas of who Lucrece was,” MacMillan said. “[Krause] brought this really luminous contemporary energy. It made me realize, ‘Wow, Lucrece is kind of an emissary from the future, she really is.’ She’s smarter than this world and she’s a little more sympathetic than the people from this time period.”
Krause auditioned previously for a Lantern production when she was first making her way into the Philadelphia theater scene, but she recalls the experience being less than ideal.
“I don’t want to name the show, but it was a Shakespeare play I had auditioned for many years ago — and I think that role is totally cursed for me,” Krause said. “It’s a role that I think would be really fun to play and it’s a good role for the kind of actress that I am but every time I audition for it it’s like I forgot to put on clothes and walk into the room and people stare at me with astonished very uncomfortable eyes.”
When auditioning for the nameless Shakespeare show, the director asked Krause to perform a monologue as a “bag lady.”
“I was nervous so the only thing I could think of to do was yell the entire monologue and in theater that’s the number one rule you never [break]. So I yelled out this very beautiful Shakespearean monologue as if I was a homeless lady,” Krause said.
Four years later, the ill-fated audition can stay in Krause’s past as MacMillan said she was very impressed by Krause’s audition for “The Liar.”
“There’s real smarts to [Krause’s] acting, which makes it feel fresh and [new] — and I completely fell in love with her when I saw her do that. It took the production in a more contemporary direction. She made me realize how modern the play is.”
Although Krause got cast in “The Liar,” she does not consider comedy her forte.
“Comedy is an intimidating genre for me and so are period pieces, so a comedy that was this well-written with heightened language and modern English was really appealing,” Krause said.
As an undergraduate in the theater department, Krause only made her way onto the cast list for main stage productions on Main Campus three times — every time as a minor character.
This never stopped Krause, who can say she’s been cast in what she estimates to be 13 shows in Philadelphia since just after her sophomore year of college.
“What I remember from Temple is that nothing really gets handed to you and you really have to work hard for what you want to get,” Krause said.
MacMillan said she has had good experiences with those who have graduated from any of Temple’s theater concentrations.
“They’re all great problem solvers,” MacMillan said. “There are some programs — excellent programs — that are more theoretical, their focus is all of the artistry and none of the execution. Every Temple grad I’ve worked with has had a real practical understanding of how to get it done, whether it be executing a design or landing a joke. There’s a high degree of practical know-how.”
For future endeavors Krause said she plans to stay in Philadelphia to pursue more roles. Although in her senior year of college she took a course to prepare her for graduate school auditions, she said pursuing a master’s degree is not in the immediate future.
“The longer I spend in the real world the more I realize I don’t really know anything and I think that grad school is going to be what I do in three or four years if I’m still as passionate about theater as I am now,” Krause said. “Grad school is a great thing, especially for women, as a mid-career option when you’re too old to play the ingénue and you’re too young to play the mother.”
Don’t expect to see Krause running to Broadway anytime soon, either. This Philadelphian still has roots to sow in the local theater community.
“I definitely have no desire whatsoever to go to New York. Not even a remote possibility in where I see my life going,” Krause said. “It would be nice to perform in other places, I love to travel and it would be nice to see traveling and theater go together, but Philadelphia is definitely my home for a good time.”
Luis Fernando Rodriguez can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @TheLuisFernando.