Samantha plays Kate, the Bennington-educated and defensively prickly aspiring novelist who provides the apartment for the Seminar to take place.
We asked Samantha about some of her own writing experiences.
Have you ever written anything that you had published/presented? What was it? How was that experience for you?
I have actually been pretty lucky in that regard albeit on a small scale. I was lucky enough to be a "night life" columnist at a small newspaper in Texas for several years (Abilene Reporter-News). I got to review touring shows, discuss/plug/experience local and national musical artists and even had a year-end "Best of" list that people actually seemed to care about. I also wrote feature stories for the paper. My favorites were a story about a local mom of a boy with Autism who worked very hard with the small school district to get her son the care and education he needed and a story about a local family who adopted a dozen special needs (aka "hard to place") kids. People can be really inspiring if you give them the chance.
In some ways working for the paper was one of the best experiences of my life. You don't always realize how much of an effect the words you say/write have - both good and bad. In the play, Leonard has a line about how writers tend to be like "feral cats." It was interesting because the more popular my column became (at one point it was the second most read column after the sports section), the more some of the other reporters complained about my writing. I was accused of "writing like she talks" as if that was a bad thing. I had totally forgotten about that until we started rehearsals.
Have you ever taken a workshop/seminar/master class and had it turn into a nightmare? What did you learn?
Luckily, no. I did, however, have an acting teacher in college who scared us so much that the rumor was that he made all of his students cry at least once a semester. I learned a LOT from him. That man knew his stuff. Although, he never made me cry. Not on purpose anyway.
Who were/are your favorite writers? Why?
I am a sucker for the dead Russians - Tolstoy especially. I am also a huge fan of Paula Danziger who wrote the Amber Brown books (Middle Reader books) and Judy Blume. As far as playwrights go, I might be a hair obsessed with Henrik Ibsen (A Doll's House and Hedda Gabler).
Mostly though, I read non-fiction. There is a lot of stuff I don't know yet and I am trying to figure it all out.
If you could have any career, what would it be?
If I wasn't an actor or soap-maker (which is what I do in "real life"), I would want to write children's books. Especially ones aimed at the 8-10 year olds. I have already written one (not published) and NEED to find time to finish the series that is bouncing around in my head.
I NEED to play Diana in Next to Normal and/or Margaret in Henry VI, Part 3. That and I need to take over the world with my soaps. You know, the usual.
Why might people know who you are? If you are recognized on the street, what is it usually for?
I sometimes get recognized as The Soap Lady. Shockingly, I have been recognized on the street most for having done The Last 5 Years which I did 4 years ago and hardly anyone saw. The ones who DID see it seem to remember it really well though.
Tell me one thing about you that people would find surprising.
I have 5 kids - ages ranging from 6 - 25 and one step-daughter aged 23.