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Get to Know the Artists Behind THE EVA TRILOGY: Julia McNeal

Ciera Eis
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Cast & Crew Bios
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Nov 1, 2017

Julia McNeal took a few moments to share some insights about the challenges of playing Eva in The Eva Trilogy, her connection to the plays and the magic of an empty theatre.

What is your favorite line in The Eva Trilogy (it doesn’t have to be yours)?

I love SO many of the lines…sooo many – how about these… (these are the ones I know best…some of the lines       in Enter the Roar, just rip into my soul):

“But when you look at someone dying, and all the thoughts, all the feelings, trapped in there, meaningless, and then pfff – gone, gone forever, you wonder is silence a virtue at all?”

Or…

“…as the roar of the culture, the roar of society, the roar of the family out-roars the voice of the individual heart.”

And…

“It can be very lonely with that in your mouth.”

Penelope Skinner's Fred's Diner (Magic 2015). Dir. Loretta Greco. Julia McNeal(Heather) and Terry Lamb(Sunny). Photo:Jennifer Reiley.
Is there one of the plays in the trilogy that resonates with you more than the others? If so, why?

It might seem silly for me to say, as it’s the one I’m not in…Eden and No Coast resonate with me so deeply, personally… I can’t be sure if that’s artistic resonance or if it’s just because of how deeply I feel them, and my privilege in being inside them.  But the representation of The Roar of life, in Enter the Roar…just the naming of it, first in Eden, and then the portraying of it onstage in Enter…well, I think it’s something that needed to be artfully named, and embodied. I think it’s a gift to the world, to the audience, to finally have a way to say, “THAT!  Yes, THAT is the problem – what’s in the way of how we all can be alive, honestly, together.  Now we’ve seen it, heard it, named it, somehow we can breathe again.” Something like that.  Also, it’s brilliant storytelling.

Have you been to any of the places the trilogy traverses? If you could visit  Dublin, Paris, or Corsica, which would you choose? Has the trilogy changed how you view these spaces?

Oh, embarrassingly, I’ve not been (not even to Paris!  Was waiting for love to take me there…) but now, I most definitely will plan a trip to Dublin, to Ireland, to Paris…and probably Corsica too… it feels like I’d be doing Eva a disservice if I did not go to her haunts, her homes, her birthplaces.  And after embodying Eva, I feel I’d not be so much of a tourist, you know?  But a secret denizen.  I’m looking forward to that.

‍Sam Shepard's A Lie of the Mind (Magic 2014). Dir. Loretta Greco. Julia McNeal (Meg) and Rob Parsons(Baylor). Photo: Jennifer Reiley
What do you anticipate being the most challenging part of your journey towards performance? Which parts do you look forward to?

First, in Eden: The being inside thought bursts and traveling down their paths, not intending to share them, but to think aloud, when in fact, Eva would not be saying any of it aloud in ‘real life’…that feels like a beautiful, a gorgeous, challenge – in several ways.  I don’t want to name the traps one could fall into here, in case I jinx myself.  But yeah, to be compelling and alive and only thinking…everything…that’s challenge #1, that I totally look forward to.

And 2 – to be Eva in her prime-of-life adulthood, then so much later…backwards and forwards in chronology, all in the same evening…with physical challenges (the use of body and voice, and making sure I don’t push one or both too far, so I can do both shows every, 6 – 7 times a week)…that’s a challenge that I think will teach me something about what I need and how to create a context in which I and my fellow cast mates can thrive….I’m using all the help the Magic can give me – which is already great.  (Jessica Berman rocks!)

Do you remember your first experience at the theater? What was the show?

You know it probably wasn’t my first experience at the theatre (I think my Dad took us to see Showboat on Broadway when I was quite young…and Life with Father…insert whatever cynical joke you like here)…but in high school, my drama class went on a field trip - took a bus in to NYC (1 ½ - 2 hours) to see A Chorus Line.  I sat forward, with my jaw gaping, a whole lot of the time during the show…then, when everyone was piling out of the theatre to meet down at the buses, I don’t know why, but I turned around quickly, and went back into the theatre (normally, I was a good girl, rule follower, but I knew if I didn’t go back I’d miss something vital.) – and it was empty. Silent.  All the students and patrons had exited – no ushers cleaning up.  And the experience of sitting again, in a seat, and standing - in the balcony it was - when all that magic had just been filling the space, just moments before…I felt sacred and true in a way I never had before.  To this day, an empty theatre, after a show, with just a work light and silence, well…it’s my soul’s place somehow.

Ciera Eis

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