You don’t have to be a Theatre Major to be part of Department of Theatre and Dance, and nobody proves this like Claire Winkler ’15! Despite being an English Major, Claire has already had quite the career on the Klein Stage, debuting as Thea Elvsted in Spring 2012’s Hedda Gabler, performing the monologue “French Fries” in Fall 2012’s Talking With, and having just now finished her run as Popeye Jackson in The Miss Firecracker Contest! In addition to her work on the stage she’s now helping to get people in our seats as one of our Box Office Assistants!
The Department of Theatre and Dance asked Claire to come in for an interview.
T&D: What is your major?
T&D: What’s your hometown?
Claire: Fredericksburg, lived here my whole life.
T&D: What’s your main focus in theatre?
Claire: I’m most interested in acting. Though I don’t know if I’ll get an opportunity to take a costume class, that’s something I’ve always been interested in as well, making them and sewing them.
T&D: How did you first get involved with theatre?
Claire: The first show I ever auditioned for was Guys and Dolls in Ninth Grade, and I didn’t expect to get anything but I got cast as Miss Adelaide, and I loved it and had a fabulous time. And ever since them I’ve just kept auditioning for things.
T&D: What is your favorite show you’ve worked on at UMW?
Claire: The Miss Firecracker Contest, I think. It was just a really great experience, I was already friends with Emily and Katie and Kat, and I got to be better friends with Stephen and Christian. I love smaller ensemble shows because it gives you a better chance to get to know your cast and Popeye was a wonderful role.
T&D: What are your plans after graduation?
Claire: Those change on a pretty regular basis, though right now my plan is to apply and hopefully get accepted into Teach For America, I think I’d probably end up doing it in DC. After that, I don’t know, probably get into Grad School. I love writing and I’ll continue writing things and submitting them to lit journals and whatnot.
T&D: What is your favorite word? Least favorite word?
Claire: My least favorite word is definitely moist, I get really angry whenever my friends use it, it sounds really nasty and has gross connotations. My favorite word is clavicle, it means “little key” in Latin and I love the sound of it, the hard Cs, and it’s just really fun to say. Clavicle.
T&D: What is your favorite kind of candy?
Claire: Oh gosh I have such a sweet tooth. I think my all-time favorite has to be Twix though, it has all my favorite things. It has cookie and chocolate and caramel, you really can’t go wrong.
T&D: If you could work on any play or musical, which one would it be?
Claire: I do love A Streetcar Named Desire, I’m sure that’s an answer a lot of people give and it’s a capital P play, but it’s such a great show and it has a place in my heart because I wrote a paper on the role of women, specifically Blanche, in my Southern Lit class.
T&D: What’s a fact about you that most people wouldn’t expect?
Claire: I was on Jeopardy when I was twelve for their Back to School week. I got an all-expenses paid trip to California, met Alex Trebek, won two thousand dollars. It was pretty sweet.
T&D: Who would be some of your biggest professional influences?
Claire: Laura Linney is definitely up there, she’s one of my favorite actresses, any and all of her movies I love, and she’s been in a bunch of plays that I love. She takes characters that would normally be very ordinary and she makes them interesting, and that’s something I always try to do in my acting and my writing, to take the ordinary and make it luminous.
T&D: What accomplishments or contributions would you like to be remembered for when you graduate?
Claire: I would just like to be known as someone who worked hard and was a good person to work with and always tried her best, just a generally good person. And being known for theatre and the things that I’ve written would be a nice bonus too.
T&D: Do you have any interests outside of theatre?
Claire: I love writing, creative non-fiction, and poetry, mostly. I am a member of Feminists United on Campus (FUC). And I’m a mentor for YWLP, Young Women’s Leadership Program. It’s kind of like big brothers and big sisters but it’s just for girls, you get a girl in 7th grade, usually from a broken home or divorced parents, sometimes one parent is incarcerated, something is going on in their life that makes it hard to just be a normal middle schooler. And you mentor them, you talk to them, they talk to you, everyone in college has been through middle school so you befriend them and make them feel a little less alone. I’d recommend it to any girl on campus.
T&D: What about playing Popeye made it a different experience from the previous roles you’ve played here?
Claire: This is the first straight-up funny character that I have ever played in a show. In Talking With, the monologue I did was kind of humorous but it wasn’t straight comedy. Miss Firecracker is a comedy, but it’s a dark comedy, and Popeye is a relief from some of that darkness. Miss Adelaide was a comedic role and so my first love has always been comedic acting, and I got to do a ton of prat falls and had a love interest and got a stage kiss, which was pretty exciting.