WITNESS: Jacque Troy

3:54 PM
By actress Jacque Troy who plays Viola Pettibone in WITNESS

Enjoying all the questions

I came late to acting. Where I grew up, we didn’t have access to all the wonderful programs offered at First Stage. So, it wasn’t until I enrolled in an acting class in the 9th grade—just because I wanted to be with a friend—that I discovered what would become a very important part of the rest of my life.

But it’s not the “glamorous” stuff that keeps me involved in theatre. Don’t get me wrong, I love a beautiful costume, living in a fictional world for awhile, and hearing an audience respond to what a cast creates. But it’s the rehearsal process, and all the questions it raises, that continue to fascinate me.

I had always been a good English student. By the 3rd grade I was writing original stories and reading books way beyond my years. Because of encouragement by great teachers all through my education, I still love reading, research and writing….as dorky as that may sound. But I really do feel lucky that my other work, as Education Director/Literary Manager at Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, allows me to do ALL those things nearly every day.

So, a role in a play always means that I get to dig into topics that are either completely new to me, or ones that I know a little bit about and now have an excuse to explore further. For WITNESS, I was familiar with both the Ku Klux Klan and the shocking Leopold and Loeb case, but, as always, I jumped at the chance to learn more.

And I admit it...I still really enjoy the library. I’ve got nothing against the internet, I actually use it a lot, but I love digging around in the stacks and coming out with something I can look through later. For my WITNESS research, I checked out a great book, The Fiery Cross: The Ku Klux Klan in America by Wyn Craig Wade and even took home a video tape called, The Ku Klux Klan: A Secret History, to learn more about this dark and scary organization. And yes, I’m old-fashioned enough to still have a combination VHS/DVD player at my home. I also read the young adult novel by Karen Hesse, on which the play is based. It gave me a lot more character information than could be included in our 70-minute play. A book called, The 1920s from Prohibition to Charles Lindbergh by Stephen Feinstein helped me with many of the other details from the period the play explores. The last book represents a trick I learned from another theatre educator. When researching for a play, finding a good young adult resource book usually gives me all the information I need. Then I don’t have to read 400-600 pages of analysis that an adult book often includes.

So, yes, it’s great to be on-stage: with other people who are doing great, passionate work, speaking compelling words, and enjoying the art that goes into all the production elements. But I admit to loving the questions that are involved in any rehearsal process. And finding answers becomes a huge part of the fun for me.

Photo by John Deighton Hemingway: Jacque Troy as Viola Pettibone in WITNESS

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