Meet Karen Valasek as Jennifer Jones in ‘The Realistic Joneses’

JonesesAloha friends of The Actors’ Group. I hope you are well and excited to see our upcoming presentation of The Realistic Joneses by Will Eno. This is a seriously exciting production, and I know you are not going to want to miss it.

Today I am talking with Karen Valasek, playing Jennifer Jones. Jennifer is originally from Sunnyvale, California (not to be confused with Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s fictional Sunnydale, CA location :).

Karen has lived on O’ahu with her husband and fellow thespian Richard for 26 years. She has been on stage in various theaters for 23 of those years, having received 4 Po’okelas for acting. She was seen last at TAG in A Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and is thrilled to be part of this excellent venue and talented cast. A music teacher by trade, she has the joy of bringing Kindermusik to various preschools around the Island. She has also been the musical director and sound designer for the past five years for Hawaii State Theater’s March school education productions.

Karen, please tell me how you got into Theatre and how long you have been actively involved in the theatre world.

I got bit by the theater bug in 6th grade, so I’ve been in the theater world a long time.

Me too. It is amazing how an experience in our childhood can impact what we do for the rest of our life.  For me, it was watching those great “golden age of film,” actors and the Marx Brothers (Harpo rules!).  What actor or actress do you revere and why? How has that person impacted your work?

I always liked Vanessa Redgrave and currently Jenifer Lawrence because I love how they are able to pull you into the story.

Which is key, right?  Being able to pull someone into the story.  As an actor yourself, what do you do to draw an audience member into the story you are telling? 

 Listen-Be present.

That is a simple but profound answer, Karen, and I would totally agree.  However, it’s easier said than done sometimes. Regardless, I think the story line of The Realistic Joneses, as well as the talented actors involved in this production, will pull folks deeply into this story. After all, in some ways this particular play tells of a reality many of us will end up having to deal with: helping a loved one through the end of life.

With that theme in mind, what “truth” do you think the audience will walk away with after seeing this show?

Talk to your loved ones and people you care about everyday with gratitude and appreciation. Live life.

It presents a difficult conversation to have with our loved ones with love and humor and bit of wackiness.

And I think that’s what makes this play so on point, since these characters deal with some of the most difficult situations in life in a very human way but with humor, empathy, understanding, and as you said, plain wackiness! It is all in how Eno presents the language for each character. What is it about language in this play, how the playwright words things that grab your attention?

I love this play! The writing is so beautiful! It is conversational and so very “realistic” to how people really talk. The words are so carefully chosen and we are working very hard to get it word for word right!

Oh man, that can be had to do, but it is also so important with a play like this, getting the lines word-for-word correct. Which leads me to the next question and it’s the 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.

OK. My process for learning my lines is that I record my cues and go over it and over it. Practice Practice Practice. It helps, too, when you add in the action on stage because then the lines become part of your body and you use your whole self to memorize.

Nice! Thank you for sharing, and I think that is a great approach, having the line memorizing process integrated into the work as a whole.

But now I’m going to change subjects you Karen, when you are not acting, what do you do?

I have the joy of teaching Kindermusik to a couple preschools and at home. And I get to be part of Team Valasek doing sound for various theaters. And I get to work with my husband’s Ortho-bionomy teaching. I’m also pretty involved in the First Unitarian Church of Honolulu.

If you had to give one piece of advice to a budding actor, what would it be?

Know your lines, be on time and be fun to work with. Also, be especially respectful and kind and grateful to your techies.

Finally, we have come to the moment in our interview where I ask you a question out of left field: if you had four ducks, five rainbows, and 30 raisins, what would you have?

A glass of wine and a hot bath.

HA! A nice combination!  And our readers will find that this cast and production crew makes an excellent combination in TAG’s production of 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 or 808-722-6941

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