Meet The Ensemble: Pam Strait

Photo by Dan Francis.

A southern girl, originally from Arkansas, Pam Strait is a genuine “hoot in a hand basket.” Always looking for new challenges, Pam has both acted and directed in over a dozen shows at B. She is currently directing Hand to God, opening March 16th!

Theatre B (TB): Tell us a bit about yourself?
Pam Strait (PS): I was born in Little Rock, Arkansas and was raised in a little town called Bryant, Arkansas. It was a lovely little place to grow up, a small town that was close to a big city. I have degrees in Psychology and Theatre. From there I went to school in New York, which I also loved. I miss it sometimes I loved living there.

TB: When did your interest in theatre begin?
PS: Theatre has just always been apart of my life. It has taught me a lot not only about who I am but how I relate to others. It helped me learn how to build bridges between who I am and how I reach out others. I was such a shy kid, it helped me make friends and find belonging.

VANYA, SONIA, MASHA, AND SPIKE. Photo courtesy of Michael Benedict.

TB: What was one of your earliest roles?
PS: My very first role was in first grade. I was the mouse in Hickory Dickory Dock, you know, ‘the mouse ran up the clock, the clock struck one the mouse ran down hickory dickory dock.” I had to memorize that poem and my mother made me the most adorable mouse costume. I was so devastated when I grew out of it. After that I was hooked.

TB: Is acting your primary expertise?
PS: Yes, it is. I took all the technical stuff in college, but all I was interested in was that “I’m an actor and that’s all that matters!” so I didn’t retain any of it. I promptly forgot everything once I finished the class. I would give anything to go back and take those tech classes now. However, I still get an education here at B. I learn from Brad, David and other by watching them and seeing their talent.

THE OIL PROJECT. Photo by Kensie Wallner.

TB: How does theatre inspire you?
PS: It helps in “real life” in a lot of different ways. It is so funny that you ask that actually. In my real life (takes off cape and sets mask aside), I am the Outreach and Volunteer Coordinator for the Fargo Library. I have just come from dropping off books at one of my outreach sites. Today I was thinking to myself that my job often feels like I’m performing a piece. So theatre has really informed my whole life. It taught me how to come out of my shell and helped me be a better version of myself.

TB: Do you have a favorite role?
PS: I loved Vanya, Masha, Sonia and Spike. I loved playing Sonia. In college I was fortunate enough to play a lot of roles I also loved. Rizzo in Grease – I don’t know why I liked it so much except that she really has heart that you don’t get to see much. I played Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf when I was much to young to play her, but it was still an amazing experience. Sister Mary in Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You. I’m a huge Christopher Durang fan.

TB: Is there pattern or genre for what sparks your interest?
PS: Not necessarily. I love to read plays and it is lovely to read something and see it unfold from my imagination to the stage.

33 VARIATIONS. Photo by Michael Benedict.

TB: What would you say is your greatest artistic challenge?
PS: I do have things I need to work to over come. Like most performers, I have things that I fall back on because they feel safe. I am constantly working against that and trying to make the “unsafe” choice. To do things that scare me. For example, during The Oil Project, I tried some physical stuff that I think I’m not good at because I’m in a safe place with great people, so it is okay if it sucks. What Brad always refers to is, “failing forward.” I am trying really hard to do things that challenge me.  So I can continue to fail forward.

TB: How did you get involved in B?
PS: I had come to see a show out of the blue; I didn’t know anything about Theatre B but heard about the show somewhere and decided I’d see it. I signed up for the email list, hoping that it would be good way to learn about upcoming projects and the next day I got an audition notice. I hadn’t performed for years but I decided to audition anyway. I had a wonderful time and felt instantly connected. They haven’t been able to get rid of me since.

Interview conducted by Theatre B intern Corin Puhalla.