Karen DeVigili ‘13 has been acting in Klein Theatre for years, and she certainly gets to go out with a bang acting in this April’s The Tempest! Having played roles ranging from the elderly and near-deaf Ethel in Moon Over Buffalo to owning the whole stage with the monologue Marks in this past Fall’s Talking With, Karen is certainly continuing to prove her versatility with this Shakespearian classic!
The Department of Theatre and Dance sat down with this multi-talented actress to get the full story on her four years of acting in the Department.
T&D:What is your major?
Karen: Theatre and Psychology.
T&D: What’s your main focus in theatre?
T&D: How did you first get involved with theatre?
Karen: In high school, I was always just interested in theatre, and I just decided to go for it and take beginning acting. I started auditioning for shows, and I’ve loved it ever since. My first role ever was a fairy in A Midsummer Night’s Dream in high school. And I remember for my audition for that play, I did a Romeo monologue from Romeo & Juliet. I don’t know why I didn’t just do a Juliet monologue. I remember I was so nervous and my knees were shaking, it was scary. I remember literally thinking “this is what they mean when they say ‘her knees were shaking’ in books.” It’s not just imagery.
T&D: What is your favorite show you’ve worked on at UMW?
Karen: I think Moon Over Buffalo, because it was the first big role I had in a comedy, and it was very different from the work I’ve done in any other show I’ve been in. I loved the cast, it was small, but not too small, we got very close, and I learned a lot of things about myself as a performer that I never would have without such an odd role.
T&D:What are your plans after graduation?
Karen: I am paying for college on my own, so I need just a job for a year, so my plans are to make money in the immediate future. But after that ,I still want to think about theatre, I’m not absolutely sure if that’s the road I want to go down, so I’m doing a lot of research, I’m looking at conservatories and stuff, and seeing how it would be logistically and if it’s something I really wanna commit to.
T&D: What is your favorite word? Least favorite word?
Karen: My favorite word, I think, is abundance, because there’s this philosopher, Dr. Wayne Dyer, that I really like, and he talks about the notion of having a feeling of abundance of all the good things in your life, like an abundance of love, an abundance of patience. And what that really means is having this sense of longevity and calm, and I really really like that. And it’s also just a fun word to say.
My least favorite word is pouch. I don’t know why, but one time somebody said something about a skin pouch, not on like a kangaroo, but on like a person, and now any time someone says something like “pencil pouch” I’m just like “ugh stop!”
T&D: What is your favorite kind of candy?
Karen: I actually don’t really like candy. But if I had to pick one, I really like white chocolate.
T&D: If you could work on any play or musical, which one would it be?
Karen: I would die to be Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? one day, when I’m old enough to play that part. I think Edward Albee’s magnificent, he’s my favorite playwright, and I love that show. It would be very challenging, but it’s my favorite play.
T&D: Do you have any interests outside of theatre?
Karen: Yes, well, I really do enjoy psychology a lot, both for completely different and really similar reasons to theatre. It’s about science, but it’s also about trying to understand human behavior. I think one of my favorite quotes is by Annie Baker, she says, “I believe that great art investigates the human condition, and tries to explain through images and behavior what the hell we’re all doing here on this planet,” and I think that’s the same thing psychology is doing, but not through images, it’s doing it through data.
T&D: What have been the unique challenges and rewards of performing in Talking With and The Tempest?
Karen: With Talking With, I think the biggest challenge was that you’re on stage by yourself, and my character was just so very difficult for me to relate to, she was very different. I really did, I think, develop a strong sense of my process as an actor, both in rehearsal, but also in the performance process, I think I was really able to understand my challenges as a performer, and ways in which to help me overcome those challenges, both with vocal warmups, the kind of attitude I needed to take into rehearsal, etc.
With the Tempest, I would say the biggest challenge is probably going to be singing. I haven’t done it yet, but I don’t know. I’ve been in musicals and stuff before, but I haven’t sung by myself onstage. I think the biggest reward would simply to be able to work on a Shakespeare show at the college level.