Cast Interview - Meriel Rosenkranz

As we approach our production of Stripped we've decided to pose some interview questions to our actors so that the world may get to know them and relate to them before going in and to see just how much they baulk at being accused of being funny.
Photo by Greg Ash

The second person to face this terrifying ordeal is Meriel Rosenkranz who plays The Processor.

Describe yourself in six words?
I really hate questions like this

What attracted you to the role?
I think it's a very strong script and I would have gladly played any part. But I recognize the Processor and I was sure that she would be a lot of fun to play.

What attracted you to me?
You are allowing me to be dark, twisted, powerful and slightly insane...what more could a girl want?

What's your origin story? What traumatic event or alien encounter has lead you down this theatrical path to the point where I'm making you answer this insane question?
Boris Lemontov: "Why do you want to dance?"
Victoria Page: “Why do you want to live?"
Bori Lermontove: “Well I don't know exactly why I must."
Victoria Page: “That is my answer too."                                               The Red Shoes 1984

Tell us about the character that you play
The processor is described as both a bureaucrat and a psychopath, one so very controlled and official the other unpredictable and intense. I think she truly believes she is doing an important job and that she serves humanity and the universe. And she is very good at her job. However she does get bored and frustrated with the process and has developed an unhealthy fascination with the darker sides of human nature. She does not like being called a bureaucrat as it implies too much structure, she sees herself as an artiste and takes pleasure in finding appropriate -or inappropriate -ways of extracting the information she needs.

What is your characters theme song?
She is too complex for just one song, so instead of a theme song here is her soundtrack 
“Soul to Squeeze” by Red Hot Chilli Pepper
“The Plane Suite: Jupiter” by Gustav Holst
“Youpie” by Cornu
“Engel” by Rammstein
“White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane
“Always Look on the bright side of Life” Monty Python
And when she is sure no one is watching she will be dancing in front of a mirror to ”Bad” by Michael Jackson and singing into a hairbrush

What do you know about the character that no one else knows?
She is a very able horsewoman. Speciality: Show jumping.

I have her pegged as a failed Magician. Her fingers were too stubby and attention span too short to learn the sleight of hand.
How have you found the rehearsal process?
Well I joined the rehearsal process later than everyone else and I am still in the process of coming off book and finding my path through the play and getting to know the cast. I actually think that for a lot of the chorus parts I am in a amazing position, not knowing the blocking and just instinctively following the others, it feels - for want of a less pretentious word- organic!
I think it’s a great cast and everybody contributes an interesting part to the essence of the play.

Being a member of a chorus also means playing lots of different characters in different situations. What effect does this have? Do you create intricate back stories for each individual, create a caricature for each line or focus on making each one as different as possible?
Now that you ask, I do have pictures in my head of what the individual characters look and feel like and if put on the spot I could probably conjure up their back story, but I have not consciously created characters.

Do you have a specific warm-up or ritual before going on stage?
It changes from project to project and cast to cast. But I usually need my peace and quiet, lie on the floor and hum or do some yoga and breathing. I don’t talk much and it’s probably best to avoid me. But other times I am bundle of energy and will be bouncing of the walls probably annoying everybody else in the cast.

It’s supposedly a comedy and whilst a lot of that rests on the script, everyone has been cast because they're naturally funny. What are your comedy influences?
I am funny? Really? But I am German…my cultural heritage aside I enjoy a dry sense of humor often black and understated. I like silliness but I am less amused by slipping on banana peel kind of humor (unless it is very well executed). I like intelligent humor; people who are quick and good with words. I like films like “The Royal Tenenbaums”, “When Harry met Sally”, “The Big Lebowski” and “Twilight” (What? I was not supposed to laugh at that one…oh) etc. I also love Bill Hicks and Eddie Izzard. There is no formula to what can make me laugh but when I laugh I laugh loud.

If you had Nine days to find the meaning of your life where would you look first?
I would probably gather all my friends and family to a big meal, eat, drink, laugh, dance and discuss life, love, God, music and poetry over dirty dishes. I don’t think I will find the meaning of my life by looking for it. I try to live life to the fullest and be at peace with myself and trust there is a rhyme and reason to my being here. I am an actress and a healer, if I can help people with either, then I am satisfied with my lot. (I am sure you were looking for a funnier answer than that but like I said I am German)

Nope. Part of the fun is seeing which way people go with the questions. You’ve all acted and reacted differently to the task just as you approach the play differently.  Some people like Catherine and Kate had an idea in mind and jumped into it; with some actors I don't want to be too stifling during "The process". But you and I have sort of stopped and gone over it. You ask me the most questions, you analyse the script and in a way process the Processor. Is this a conscious decision, to behave like the character or are you just eerily like the part?
Are you implying I am a power hungry, psychopathic bitch? J No it’s not a conscious decision; I am not that “Methode” that I strive to become the Processor. I am afraid the analyzing, questioning actress is all me. Maybe I have more in common with the processor than I thought. I definitely knew that this part would suite me and that because I recognize her I would be able to play her. At drama school they told me my castability is “the intellectual” or “the ice maiden”…The processor is an intellectual ice maiden with a twist.

Do you think the Processor has any time off? What would she do in her free time? Does ordering a cup of coffee because this long drawn out process where she investigates where each bean has grown?
Yeah I can picture that. It seems like on top of all her other characteristics she seems to have an OCD. My instinct however is to say that she is a workaholic. A workaholic by circumstance, as there is only one processor but lots of people dying or losing the will to live like HE. She does not get down time. But it is also in her nature to ponder life. For all her madness she is not a hypocrite. She enjoys what she does and makes clear decisions (even though they may be questionable to others), that is why she gets frustrated with people like HE who have become lethargic. So in the few minutes between ”clients/victims” I can see her pondering and staring into space, unravelling and interpreting life’s mysteries while sipping a fine single malt whiskey.