Florencia Lozano Knows Why the Red Dog Howls
The former One Life to Live star shares her thoughts on Alexander Dinelaris' play, co-star Kathleen Chalfant, and her multi-faceted career.
Florencia Lozano has had considerable success as a stage actress, playwright (Underneathmybed), and, most notably, television star, playing the role of Tea Delgado Manning on ABC's daytime drama One Life to Live for over 15 years. She is now back on stage as Gabriella in Alexander Dinelaris' searing drama Red Dog Howls at New York Theatre Workshop. TheaterMania recently spoke to Lozano about the play and her career.
THEATERMANIA: How did this role in Red Dog Howls come about?
FLORENCIA LOZANO: I had done a reading of the play about five years ago at Kathleen Chalfant's apartment – long before it went to LA – and then I got a call a couple of months ago to audition for it at New York Theatre Workshop. While the play had changed some, I remembered it. And I thought "This is the darkest play I had ever done a reading of. Am I going to do that play?" But I'm really proud of this theater for producing it. I think it's an important and beautiful play.
TM: Does the fact that the play is so dark and sad scare you?
FL: It's really strange. It's had the reverse effect I thought it might have. I thought descending into this world of researching genocide and human brutality and what people are actually doing to one another was going to be so depressing, but what it has done is really given me perspective on my own life. I feel like I've got problems, but I'm also so lucky. We who live in this country and on this economic level, and who are alive and healthy, there is just so much we take for granted.
TM: What have you taken from working with Kathleen Chalfant?
FL: Part of what I love about being around Kathleen is she has a sense of confidence and directness about her that is very inspiring. There is a sense of grace and ease, and to a certain degree, she makes what she does seem sort of effortless. But at the same time, she's tremendously loving, she's tremendously kind, and she's tremendously smart. She knows so much about history and politics, and it's fascinating being in her company and hearing her talk about all these things. And it's a great thing for me to have a role model of a woman of her age who is unapologetic, and who has tremendous power but doesn't wield it in a way that feels negative. She really is a beautiful example of what one can become in this life.
TM: How does the NYTW experience compare to the experience of working with LAByrinth, where you are a longtime member?
FL: The thing that's really special about New York Theatre Workshop is the history that they have producing plays that have political engagement and a degree of social consciousness. They're hardcore about their beliefs in terms of human rights on all kinds of different levels. And they've taken a lot of blows for it, and they've gotten up again. So my heart goes out to them as theater artists, because I feel like they're truly taking risks. And I feel that same way about LAByrinth on a lot of levels. Both theater companies dare to fail, and to me, that is a venture I want to be part of.
TM: You're also a playwright. Which writers do you consider role models?
FL. Maria Irene Fornes is probably my favorite playwright. John Patrick Shanley, Stephen Adly Giurgis, Sarah Kane, the list goes on and on. I should also say that when I was at Brown, Paula Vogel was one of my teachers and she was a huge influence on me.
TM: What inspires you as a writer?
FL: Whether there are objects that I keep to myself or hide, or things I bring to my dressing room, such as pictures that mean something to me, I like stimulating myself by having little things around me that feed my imagination. Let's just say, I like my secrets.
TM: Did you ever get tired of playing Tea on One Life to Live?
FL: Tea was a blast to play. People always ask me, "Was she good or was she bad?" And I say "She did some questionable things because of her damaged heart." Who can't relate to that? I loved how psychotically driven she was by work and by ambition and by her loyalty to the people she loved. That was really fun to play. She was complex, and we don't get to see complex women often enough.
TM: What's next for you?
FL: I have a lot of writing projects right now, and I'm trying to figure out how to do both the writing and the acting -- especially coming off working on a soap opera, where I had a real daily structure where I could write regularly. I like structure. And as an actress, I'm excited to be able to do plays again. I want to do more Shakespeare, because that's one of those experiences as an actor that borders on the religious, and I would also like to do more classic plays like Williams and Chekhov.