Interview with Lydia Lonnquist by Zayne Engel
Staff member Zayne Engel sat down with alumn Lydia Lonnquist days before Graduation to find out more about her process and plans as an actress
Who inspires you to be an actress?
Honestly, no one. I have actors and actresses that I enjoy seeing, but I never saw one particular person act and think, “That’s what I want to do!” I’ve been acting since Kindergarten. The public school I went to back in my hometown had a great presence for the arts, so I always had opportunities to act. I think the people who inspire me to better myself as an actress are all actors and actresses. I love to see people progress, and I love to watch others so I can learn from them.
What is your method as an actress, and how do you approach your roles?
The routine I’ve developed for myself is to read through the play by myself once or twice, and then a couple times with others before I start getting into anything. Then, I begin memorizing my lines. The process that works best for me is to learn small chunks at a time, gradually building off lines I’ve already learned, and repeating them all over-and-over again until I feel comfortable with them. I always do this by myself first. I can’t have outside distractions, so I find a quiet place where I won’t be bothered. As I memorize, I generally have small revelations that occur as I better understand just who my character is both for the playwright, and for me personally. Even after I feel completely comfortable with my lines, I still run them over in my head throughout the day. Eventually, I work in alone time with others to help me run over lines. Another thing that helps me, is to fill in the personal history of my character that the script does not already give me. I always try to imagine what happened before what is written in the script. This helps me understand my character better. Plus, it’s super fun! That being said, my routine varies slightly with every character I play, since no character is the same (or should be, for that matter).
What are some of your post-graduation plans?
My post-graduation plan is to move to New York. I’ve always wanted to try acting out there, and what better time to do it than when I don’t have any roots already planted? I want to audition for as many shows as possible, and if things don’t work out, then that just means that God wants me to do something else, which is totally okay! I know He has my path laid out for me already so I just need to trust in Him and follow wherever He sends me. I’m also planning on finding (hopefully) an online job or a temp job with flexible hours so that I can make a steady income while I am not acting. This job would preferably be something to do with writing, possibly journalism. Otherwise, I would love to continue writing my own poetry, novels, and plays, and possibly have them published someday. I’m keeping a very open mind to any new possibilities I’m not aware of, and looking forward to seeing where God sends me!
What was it like going to festival for “Women of Troy”?
It was wonderful! I loved getting to act on a huge stage with my friends in front of hundreds of other people who love theatre! I’ve never had the opportunity to act in a venue so large that it was required of everyone to wear microphones. Being able to share our stories about the show afterwards with others was fun.
What is your favorite play that you have participated in?
I’ve been asked this many times, and it’s still so hard for me to decide! However, I think my favorite show has to be in was “Tell It To The Wind.” I loved the different folktales from the around the world, the original music, and the visually pleasing elements of the production as a whole. Ensemble shows are usually my favorite since you have the opportunity to play more characters – which in turn expands your repertoire – and also having the challenging aspect of making each character different so the audience forgets that it is one actor playing multiple roles. One of my favorite things about each performance was listening to the reaction of children in the audience and talking with them afterwards (I had little girls come up to me for hugs and pictures since I was one of their favorite princesses! It was so adorable!).
How has your experience as both an English Major and a Theater Major complimented each other?
I feel that these two majors go hand-in-hand extremely well. Acting has helped me learn how to better tell stories, and especially create characters. Having to create my own voices for every character that I play helped give my own, written characters differing voices as well. I have also learned how to better develop characters so they have interesting personal histories and exciting arcs to their stories. English has helped me with Theatre in learning how to create my own stories and, also, how to analyze every aspect of a play. This has been tremendously helpful for me in nailing down characters.
What is your favorite part about acting, or participating in plays?
I love sharing theatre with others. Interacting with an audience, whether it’s directly or not, is amazing. When you [the audience] are laughing, I have to bite down on the inside of my cheek not to break character. When you’re crying, I feel encouraged to share in the emotional experience with you as well. Talking with audience members after shows is absolutely fantastic. It’s my chance to truly hear what you enjoyed, what could be improved upon and to also share insights and fun facts with you as well. Hearing everyone’s opinions and takeaways from the show is interesting since each person has a different perspective.
Do you believe that participating in theater has helped strengthen your social skills? If so how?
Definitely. Part of this is because of the participation itself, but also the community here at Bethany. The professors and students are all very welcoming and helpful; I’ve had a great time learning and getting to know everyone. When I first came to Bethany, I was super shy, but theatre was my way of showing emotions that I didn’t usually share around others. Over time, I came out of my shell with having to constantly verbally communicate with others to accomplish the same common goal. Now, whenever I’m nervous to get in front of others (and I am still nervous to stand in front of others, whether that’s to perform or give a speech), I just act as if I’m more confident than how I feel, and draw from characters that I’ve played who were strong extroverts. When I start acting like I’m confident, I eventually become more confident. Whenever you get up in front of people, no matter how intimidating the crowd, humble yourself by remembering that you’re not the best in the world, but also know that you have something great to share! Most importantly, remember that God is right there with you (Matthew 19:26 and Philippians 4:13).
Finally, does pineapple belong on pizza?
Oh man, this is such a dangerous topic. I wouldn’t say that it necessarily belongs there, but I do enjoy it sometimes.
Zayne Engel is a freshman whose major is currently undecided. He is a member of Bethany’s Men’s Basketball team and in his free time, he likes to read and write. Zayne enjoys reading because of the freedom of it; opening a book can literally take you to a completely different place.