Juliet Rylance Has Spirit
The talented actress discusses starring in Classic Stage Company's production of The Cherry Orchard.
"Shakespeare and Chekhov for me go hand in glove. I watched my father [actor Mark Rylance, who married her mother when Juliet was seven] playing Shakespeare for years and years, so Shakespeare has always been my first love in the theater. I always imagined after I'd had my spell of Shakespeare for awhile, the next thing I would do is Chekhov. And after playing Rosalind (for the Bridge Project), I felt that was a great point to take a break and do Chekhov."
Varya is actually Rylance's second go-round at Chekhov for Classic Stage, having co-starred as Irina last season in their acclaimed production of The Three Sisters. But this is a very different role. Varya runs the estate that her adoptive mother, Ranevskaya (Dianne Wiest), abandoned for 10 years after her son died. Now Ranevskaya has returned, just as the estate is to be auctioned, and she refuses to grasp the solution to their financial woes devised by their neighbor Lopakhin (John Turturro).
"I think that Varya is someone with a very big heart," says Rylance. "She's been brought into this family as an adopted child, and she's never felt quite worthy. And so she decides to take on looking after everyone and after the house. She's like no other character I've played so far in the sense that she doesn't really know how to express her feelings as openly as Irina in Three Sisters, or Rosalind or Desdemona, for that matter. I think that, as the play goes on, her frustration with the rest of the family's denial in seeing what an awful situation they're in makes her more controlling and frustrated and desperate."
Coming up next for Rylance is "a family passion project," a film that her husband, actor Christian Camargo, has written a script for. She can't say much about it yet, except that it's based on a classic play, updated to 1984, and set in rural New England.
And although there will be Shakespearean roles in her future, she doesn't have a set goal in mind. "I think I'm just going to wait to see which one comes up naturally," she says. "Often you get handed these archetypal roles at key moments in your life when they make sense. I played Desdemona just as I left England and came to this new world, America. And that's very simpatico with Desdemona's leaving Venice for Cyprus. And as Rosalind, I was embarking on that journey having just been newly wed."