Vanessa Cate qualifies as a triple threat. Not only an extremely fine actress, she’s a playwright in her own right as well as a gifted director. And we are very fortunate to have her play the title character.
First off, tell me something about yourself. Who is Vanessa Cate?
I am a California native with a passion for the theater. I work as a writer, director, and actor. I’ve been working mainly at Zombie Joe’s Underground Theater, but have also recently started my own theater company ‘True Focus Theater’ and am in the process of planning its first independent production, ‘Cat-Fight’.
What kinds of roles have you played before now?
All types. For awhile I was playing a lot of strong, crazy women. And for the past few years I’ve been doing a lot of horror and a lot of cabaret. I think Carmilla will be a good culmination of aspects from all that.
I already know the answer to this, but how did you come to hear about this production of Carmilla?
The writer approached me with the idea – very enthusiastically, by the way – as he was still writing it. Lesbianism and vampirism are two things I’m into, and hearing that he had me in mind for the title role, well it was flattering at the very least.
How are you approaching the idea of playing a 200-year-old lesbian vampire?
I suppose when you put it like that, I have quite a lot to live up to, haha. Vampires have a lot of power, but they don’t have to flaunt it. And Carmilla tries to blend in with the humans around her as much as possible. Much of it will be nuance. And this ain’t her first rodeo. I think she is used to a lot of what happens around her. She’s seen how people react to her before – it’s almost scripted in a way. But what surprises her is Laura, and as a vampire can feel certain sensations in a heightened way, I think a sense of companionship, mingled with a feeling of desire and even hunger that only a vampire can understand, I think that will be the most challenging and interesting aspect. So the connection with Laura will be my focus.
For that matter, what do you think of vampires in general–especially as characters on stage or screen?
I adore vampirism, and have always had a fascination. It has influenced me in many ways, from the make up I wore in high school to my writing. Whenever the subject matter is a vampire, I am instantly into it. The idea of a predator that could kill you so utterly, and yet you are drawn to it. That’s sexy. And tragic. Though vampires are entering into a strange period where pale heartthrobs somehow don’t need human blood and fall in love with teenage girls, I think we’ll evolve out of that.
When the audience leaves after each performance, what do you hope they’ll feel about your character?
I hope to have seduced them.
Finally, what question would you like me to have asked about this role or your performance or the play in general? And what would be your answer?
I think it was perfect the way it was. Some things have to remain a mystery.