Kristen Doscher is an aspiring actress and writer who has authored two produced plays. She will be at this year’s Sundance Film Festival; here is a link to her website:
Q: What made you interested in acting?
A: I can remember all the way back to my Kindergarten variety show. I was given the song “How Much is that Doggy in the Window” to sing in front of the entire school with my little toy dog. Then in 3rd and 4th grade, I think that is when the “performance bug” really kicked it. It was definitely not acting from the beginning, I just remember knowing that I had to be a performer of some sorts. So I had this dream in my head of being a “pop star.” I wanted to be on stage in Madison Square Garden dancing and singing in front of thousands of people. That to me was the ultimate dream, having all these people coming to watch little old me. All throughout elementary and middle school I was starting all girl singing groups and hoping to be the next 3LW. Slowly I realized that the dream of being on stage and really committing to this as a life goal and not just a hobby was mine and mine alone. I knew I had to go out there and pursue it. I remember one day I was sitting in my room and wondering how I could make this dream a reality and it was then that I sort of realized that there are other outlets for performers and that I wanted to try them all. So I did my research and signed up for my very first acting classes in New York City. My Dad pulled me out of school early once a week and rode the train in with me. When I got home every night, the only “homework” I was interested in doing was for the scenes we were assigned and it was a done deal from there on out.
Q: You wrote, produced and performed in two plays in New York, what were they and what where they about?
A: The first play that I had ever written premiered in The Strawberry One Act Festival and went all the way through to the finals with several nominations. The plot line is very true to the title ‘A Love Story’, as it explored the essence of love when it is fresh and new and love when it falters.
The second was a play called MOB which premiered in The Thespis Theatre Festival. MOB is the story of a young Italian American couple who breaks the break by sticking up diners (Pulp Fiction Style) all across NY State. Using different alias’ they stage fake proposals and enlist the help of a flash mob to ensure a substantial amount of hostages. But when these two unintelligent bandits turn against each other in a battle of love, money, and some pretty hip dance moves…who will win and who will make it out empty handed?
Q: What inspired you to write them?
A: When I graduated from school and realized that from that point forward I wouldn’t always get to have a say in what roles I played, I kind of panicked. It was then that I realized how easily I could market myself the way I wanted to. I could write and create a whole world of my choosing and act along side actors of my choosing, in venues of my choosing. I think you catch my drift! The whole thought of it was very exciting and still is. I also think each play that I have written really spoke to where I was at that point in my life. When I wrote A Love Story I was in a relationship that I was terrified of loosing and the shear thought of it created a spark, an energy inside me and writing was the best way for me to express it. MOB on the other hand was my way of exploring characters with a heightened sense of reality. I really wanted to play on stage, like a kid with no boundaries, and that’s where MOB was born.
Q: How did you go about getting them produced?
A: Getting them produced was surprisingly easy which isn’t always the case. If you are a new writer and you want to see your work up on stage in front of an audience, the easiest route to take is festivals. They provide you with a lot of the necessities and really help the process be as smooth as possible. I won’t sugar coat it though, as it can be difficult with the amount of people you have to deal with on a daily basis to get your show up and running. I also recommend using a crowd funding platform such as Indiegogo or Kickstarter. Especially if you plan to produce the show fully on your own in a venue of your choosing which is hopefully the next step for me and the cast of MOB. Taking it one step further.
Q: What kind of day job or income source do you have and how does it affect your pursuit of acting?
A: Well this question is a bit of a doozy. It sounds a bit off the charts, but my day job tends to fluctuate and I always seem to make it work some how. There is the occasional paycheck from acting gigs here and there which is always nice and encouraging. Right now, I am working for a friend who owns a dog walking business. It really is pretty sweet. And it doesn’t feel like work which is nice! It allows me to pursue acting and make a schedule that works for me which is something every actor needs.
Q: What kind of training have you had?
A: I graduated from The American Academy of Dramatic Arts which is a two year acting conservatory geared primarily towards theater training (which I loved!!). The Academy gives you a taste of a little bit of everything, which is nice in some aspects. Every time a new semester rolled around you were given a whole new set of teachers and a whole new perspective on acting, movement, voice and speech etc! This was great because it kind of allowed you to choose which methods worked for you.
After graduating, I dabbled in a few classes and tried out other conservatories until I stumbled upon Matthew Corozine Studio Theatre. I can finally say that I found a space and a coach that created the safest environment for me to truly play as an artist! MCS is based around Sanford Meisner’s technique of living and behaving, truthfully and fully in imaginary circumstances. The technique really taught me how to get off of myself and to create this world around my scene partner. I attribute a lot to Matt, my coach. I’ll be sticking with him for a while!
Q: What do you hope to achieve at Sundance this year?
A: Well, there are a ton of things that I would hope to achieve but I really want to go in head first with out a plan. I sometimes feel like that is when the best and most unexpected things occur. I will say that a main focus of mine is meeting as many people as I can and building my roster of contacts. When I look back to my experience at the festival last year, the greatest thing I took away was the terrific and talented people I met. Most of them I am still in contact with and will be spending time with this year! If I come back home with a pocket full of business cards, then I would have done my job right!
Q: What made you want to transition from theater to film?
A: I’ve always wanted to act in films. Growing up, theater was never something I wanted to do. Once I went away to school and began my training, everything changed and I felt this electricity every time I was on stage. I remember thinking “wow, you cannot beat this feeling” and I fell in love with the theater. I am glad that I got the training that I did and I will always go back to the theater to continue to grow as an artist and discover new things about myself. I only use the word transition because after graduating, theater has been the bulk of my work as an actress. I want to feed my on screen career and see if it grows. I feel I owe that to my 8 year old self.
Q: How do you approach creating a character?
A: I wouldn’t say that there is one set way that I approach a character. I think there are many different factors that go into it. First, I think it depends on the type of character I am playing. I like to look for the similarities and the differences between myself and the character and then start from there. I used to try and forget “me” all together and try to become this whole other person, but over the last few years I’ve grown to realize that the character is me. I am embodying another life and taking on their struggles and triumphs as my own. Second, I think it depends on the director that you are working with. Some directors are very organic. They just want you in front of the camera or in the rehearsal space, on your feet, doing your thing. And if they love it, GREAT! And if they don’t, then they will tweak it. And I think that works marvelously for some actors because it gives them complete freedom to play. Some directors like to work as an ensemble, discovering the characters as a unit. Why they all came together, etc. What makes them who they are. What brought them to this certain point in their life. How they move in their bodies. On the last play that I wrote I worked with this terrific director, Joanna Tomasz. She was the hands on type which is the kind of director that I love to work with. Like I said, some like the organic route but I like to be pushed and pulled in different directions. I like to see my character from other peoples point of view, whether I agree or not. It’s more fun that way! Joanna introduced myself and the other actors to the Labon Technique, which is based on the belief that by observing and analyzing a characters movements, whether they are conscious or unconscious, you can uncover their inner self. It is essentially a tool to help you build the characters personality through the movement of your body. I am a firm believer in physical work when creating a character!
Q: What would you like to change about the film industry?
A: I’m almost afraid to mention it but I think there is a bit of sensitivity with feminism and woman in the work place lately. I think it is a beautiful thing that so many people feel so passionately about it because it is something that is very important and needs to be voiced. I attended an event for New York Women in Film and Television last month, where Maggie Gyllenhaal gave a marvelous and to the point speech which covered her hopes and fears when it came to this sensitive topic. She ended it by saying that change only occurs as a result of revolution. We need the beautiful, young, and naive girls of this new generation to challenge our views and fight against the current. I thought that this was an awesome way of saying “let people have their own opinions” because in the end people are going to think the way they want to and behave the way they want to and the universe is going to unfold as it may as a result of that. I think women in the industry should continue fighting for their beliefs and if they feel there is an unfair advantage or an unfair amount of opportunities for women then they should absolutely continue this crusade. I can only hope that in the next year we see more of a change and more of an understanding when it comes to this topic. I do firmly believe that art needs a women’s heart and vulnerability to thrive!
Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)