Meet the Cast: Amrita Mallik as Pony Jones

2015-09-06 18.39.46Aloha friends of The Actors’ Group. In no time at all, TAG’s production of The Realistic Joneses by Will Eno will open! So I wanted to introduce you to a new face here at TAG, the lovely Amrita Mallik playing Pony Jones. Amrita and I spoke and she shared lots of wondering things about herself, acting, and The Realistic Jones to pass along to our TAG family.
Amrita, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me.  Can you tell us a bit bout yourself and your theatre work?

I performed in the Hawaii Shakespeare Festival’s production of Lear/ Shrew/ Much Ado, as Beatrice in Much Ado and Petruchio in Shrew in 2014, for which I received a Po’okela Award.  Last summer, I served as the Assistant Director and as a member of the chorus in HSF’s The Winter’s Tale. I also appeared in A Slice of Danger at Mark’s in 2015.  Prior to that, I appeared in several productions including Tennessee Williams’ Summer and Smoke, Ibsen’s Wild Duck, and Shakespeare’s As You Like It and Troilus and Cressida, all while in college at Brown University.

 Wow, you have a lot of Classical Theatre under your belt.  How did you get into theatre?

I’ve been a ham since birth, trying to entertain everyone around me since I first learned I could.  I convinced my parents to let me take my first theater class when I was nine, and I continued to study my craft and perform regularly through college.  Then, like many people who were totally unsure about what to do with their lives, I decided to go to law school.  I was laboring under the misapprehension that being a “grownup” meant putting my creative interests aside, so I put my actor-self on the shelf and dove into the thrilling world of civil litigation.  Fast forward 11 years to 2014: although I had built a successful practice as a civil rights litigator, I really found myself missing performing.  That season, the Hawaii Shakespeare Festival happened to be putting on Much Ado About Nothing, one of my all-time favorite plays.  I dusted off my old performance skills, screwed up my courage, and auditioned for something for the first time since 2003!  I ended up getting my dream role as Beatrice, had an absolutely amazing time back on stage, met such a wonderful group of artists, and vowed that I would never leave my creative self behind again!

Right on, for going after your dreams! Good for you, and with your background in Law, I imagine you are a very detailed oriented person. With that in mind, can you tell me what is the most important thing you do on stage as an actress?

As an actor, I think the most important thing I try to do is to convey an authentic experience on stage.  For me, that means doing everything I can to fully inhabit the character, to wear his or her skin on stage.  I spend a lot of time with the text, trying to get the deepest understanding of this character that I can, and then I try to bring all of that to the performance.  I obsess over the tiniest physical details, the inflection of my voice, the direction I look off at.  I think this is critical to painting a portrait on stage; I want to draw the audience into this little world with me.  This is why I find improv so challenging; I like to prepare!

Here is a question that drives all actors nuts, but it is the MOST asked question of audience members: how on earth do you learn all your lines? Tell us about YOUR process.

I wish I had something insightful to say, or a shortcut to share, but I am really just a total workhorse when it comes to memorizing lines.  It is absolutely my least favorite part of the game.  Just reading, reading, reading, repeat.  I never think I’m going to get it all down, but somehow, everything comes together.  Little did I know performing in a play would have so much in common with studying for the bar exam!

AND I am also blessed to have married a man who gets a kick out of running my lines with me.  It totally cracks me up when, months after the show has closed, he still recites some of my own lines back to me in the context of our daily lives!

It is wonderful having a supportive partner.  I am glad to hear you have one as well.  I also understand you have opened your practice, leaving the litigation to the courtroom and working more as an attorney-mediator.  What does that mean exactly?

As an attorney-mediator, I derive such deep satisfaction in helping parties in conflict work through their issues, figure out what they need from each other, and help them get to some form of resolution that allows them to become unstuck and move forward in their lives.  And I do this over the course of several hours, where as a litigator in court, the process would take years!  This is my shameless plug for why everyone should explore alternative dispute resolution before jumping right into some judicial process with their problems.

And your are a writer too, right?

Yes! And I recently finished my first book!  I am now going through the byzantine process of talking to literary agents to try and get my work published and out into the world.  Every day is a learning experience!

That is terrific!  You are truly a well rounded and talented woman … unlike your character Pony. She seems a bit lost in her world:

Oh, Pony (deep exhale).  What a delightful mess!  When I first read the script, I really disliked her.  But with each day I get to spend living in her skin, I have come to develop such a fond tenderness for her! She is the epitome of doing the best she can with the tools she has. She is limited, to put it gently, when it comes to facing the challenges life has put in front of her, but she is plowing on through with her zany optimism and total lack of filter. She is not a ditz, she actually has a lot of hidden resources, and we get to see her take baby steps towards appreciating her own strength by the show’s end.  We never see her actually come into her own, but I think the script hints that she is on her way, and that arc is real fun to convey on stage.

I would agree and honestly, there is not a weak character in this play – each one is unique and powerful.  Anyway, I know you are a busy woman, and I want to let you get back to your work, but before we go, I am asked each of you this odd but fun question: If you had four ducks, five rainbows, and 30 raisins, what would you have?

My next dream birthday party!  But the raisins would have to be covered in chocolate.  Or just be chocolate.

HA! I totally agree – Bring on the Chocolate!  And bring on The Realistic Joneses!

The world needs theatre and TAG needs you!


The Realistic Joneses runs February 26 – March 20th, 2016
Tickets can be purchased online at http://www.taghawaii.net or 808-722-6941

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