Having spent the last month thinking about Helen of Troy, it seemed only natural that we should take a few moments to chat up Kirsten Broadbear, a staple of the San Francisco indy theater scene, who will be playing the title role in Helen this Valentine’s Day at SF Theater Pub.
What kind of characters are you drawn to as an actress?
I find humans fascinating, so the more complex the character, the more interesting it is to try to discover and explore what makes the character tick.
So then, what’s it like to play the most beautiful woman who ever lived?
It’s the one thing I’m trying not to focus on, actually. Of course, this molds a large part of who Helen is, but instead of trying to understand what it would feel like to be that beautiful, I’m more intrigued by what it might feel like to be a person underneath a canvas upon which strangers project their conceptions, like we do with celebrities all the time.
What did you know about Helen of Troy before you took this role?
That she caused the Trojan War and a lot of men died for her.
How about now? Has your opinion about her changed?
I think this is the first time I’ve ever even held an opinion about her; before she was just a vapid sort of pawn or catalyst for war and I didn’t attribute much of a personality or humanness to her.
We’re doing this show on Valentine’s Day for a reason. In your opinion, what does this play say about love?
Love is a funny thing. It reveals itself in unexpected ways, and lasting love isn’t always the kind that’s full of passion and romance. In the end, it’s just bloody nice to have someone who knows you, by your side, enjoying an average animal sacrifice in the morning together.
What’s your involvement with Theater Pub been like in the past?
I’ve been fortunate to have participated in quite a few of Theater Pub’s shows. Each time has been a different cast and crew, a different topic, a different concept and different presentation and use of the space, but every single time – it’s made for a great night. Theater Pub is an extremely important venue for the community; it’s accessible and relaxed without being dumbed down. And it’s truly a night to commune. No conventional stage or lights or restricted access to bathrooms enables a connection with the audience that makes everyone feel like they’re a part of the success of the event.
What keeps you coming back, both as a theater artist, and as an audience member?
I am constantly proverbially pinching myself because I’m amazed at how many incredibly intelligent, kind, and fantastically talented people there are to work with in the Bay Area. Theater Pub has a playfulness and an ability to engage with such a variety of people, equally including all those involved behind the scenes and running the bar and the patrons.
As an actress, what’s the difference between acting in a full production, vs. a reading like this show?
There are a lot of differences. But I suppose one important distinction is that a reading somehow allows for more innovation. It’s looser since sets and costumes aren’t present, and it incites the imagination more than a full production with all the spectacles laid out before you.
What else are you working on these days?
I’ll be doing a staged reading for BoxCar’s Sam Shepherd festival in March, which I’m really excited for. Then, I’m thrilled to be part of BOA again this year, working with an incredible group of talents (Megan Cohen, Jessica Holt, Sarah Moser, Siobhan Doherty, Megan Trout, among others), immediately followed by Tia Loca and Her Life of Crimes produced by the wonderful and delicious John Caldon, and performing side by side with the magnificent Matt Gunnison.
Anything you’re looking forward to seeing in the local theater scene?
As I mentioned before, there is such an amazing group of talented people in and around this town, I am constantly looking forward to seeing the magic these people create. It’s always an adventure and I feel lucky to be on the ride.
Catch Kirsten playing Helen in HELEN, this Valentine’s Day at the San Francisco Theater Pub. The show starts at 8, but we encourage you to get there around 7:30 as we can get pretty full. The event is FREE, and only happens at the Cafe Royale, 800 Post Street, San Francisco.