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The Artist’s Journey: Zoë Chao – Week 6 - La Jolla Playhouse Blog

The Artist’s Journey: Zoë Chao – Week 6

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Each week, The Artist’s Journey will provide an insider look at the creation of a production, from first rehearsal to opening night, through the eyes of one of the show’s key players.

Zoë Chao is an actress in the UCSD graduate theatre program and is co-starring in Surf Report. This is her first professional production.

Zoë Chao

Zoë Chao

The time has come: Audience Time. We are wrapping up our week of previews and…we are still alive. Better than alive. In fact, we have been rejuvenated by generous audiences night after night.

But the nerves still persist. It is sort of impressive how nervous we actors get no matter how many times we perform. I did an hour-long one-woman show that I wrote two years ago and told myself, “If I can get through this, NOTHING will ever be as terrifying.” During that period of time I actually considered sticking my foot out in front of moving traffic with the hopes that it would get broken and then I wouldn’t have to perform my solo show. I never followed through, but that encapsulates the extent of my fear. Fast forward to present day and I’m still Ms. Shaky Hands. Our invited dress rehearsal had me in such a fit of nerves that during one of my first scenes, I pressed the prop phone so hard into my ear to stop the shaking that I actually hurt myself on stage. No better way to be present and available for your scene partner than when you’re totally distracted by your own masochism.

My biggest note after our invited dress was to SLOW DOWN. I guess I appeared to be on crack cocaine at the rate I was going. My lovely voice teacher from UCSD would have been mortified to find out that I forgot to breathe during the entire first act.

But the truth is, after you’ve blanked on a line, rewritten a scene, put a boot on the wrong foot and experienced the set malfunctioning twice, all in front of an audience, you are reminded that there is nothing better than live theatre. That this gets to be my job? I’ve got some bruises from pinching myself so many times. And who better to share my dreams coming true with than my family, who are now in town all the way from Rhode Island! This means my little sister Maia will be looking with hawk-like eyes to see if someone onstage gets their pants stuck in their socks, or has something in their teeth, etc.… But she is the most honest critic I know. And it comes from a knowing place – she brought the house down as Little Red in Into the Woods several years ago. It made me think that maybe she was the actor in the family. Now I am OK with knowing that there can be two actors in one family. She is also a promising filmmaker. We have high hopes that the Chao sisters will be on the cover of Vanity Fair come 2015. We have to hustle.

Annie is giving us rewrites here and there and Lisa is swiftly putting in the changes. The play continues to tighten and focus. It’s the first time I’ve ever experienced previews. Now I can’t imagine a process without it, especially for a new play.

Please come see Annie Weisman’s Surf Report, directed by Lisa Peterson. It’s only 100 minutes long and is jam packed with family turmoil, spray tans and a lot of caustic wit!

1 Comment

  1. I came to opening night Sunday and LOVED IT!!

    Martha Henderson

    11:05 am