The Horror Honeys: Wendy Robie Brings Badass Feminism to Shakespeare in 'CORIOLANUS'

Wendy Robie Brings Badass Feminism to Shakespeare in 'CORIOLANUS'



To live like a legend... sometimes you have to fight like a bitch. The country is at war, and the Senate cannot keep the peace within its own walls--- let alone on the battlefield. Enter Coriolanus: the country’s most famous badass warrior. She returns home to face the greatest battle yet: to win the love of the people & run for office--- or face the dangerous consequences of defying society’s expectations.


Horror fans will recognize the name Wendy Robie from Twin Peaks, where she played the iconic Nadine Hurley, as well as Wes Craven's The People Under the Stairs. However, Robie is also an incredible stage actor, with numerous credits across both contemporary and classic works, including Dangerous Liaisons, Richard III, Hamlet, and Mother Courage and her Children. Next for Robie is CORIOLANUS: Fight Like a Bitch, an all-female production of the Shakespeare classic, in which she takes on the role of Volumnia.

Musical Horror Honey Brittany Mosley had the opportunity to chat with Robie about her upcoming role in this exciting new production of CORIOLANUS!

Brittany Mosley: How did you first get involved with CORIOLANUS: Fight Like a Bitch? What intrigued you about the project? 

Wendy Robie: I received an email from (director) Emily Penick offering me the part. This is a great play, a great part, and a director I've wanted to work with since we met at ACT [Theatre, Seattle WA] during Dangerous Liaisons. I had recently moved back to Chicago, but we managed to work it out.

Actor Wendy Robie

BM: Aside from the female casting, are there other aspects of this production that audiences will find unique and exciting?

WR: Unique and exciting? Well... it's CORIOLANUS! It's possibly Shakespeare's most political play. Class warfare, xenophobia, corruption, and aggression continue to plague us, and CORIOLANUS continues to speak to us through these passionate, flawed characters. 


BM: What has been your favorite moment working on CORIOLANUS: Fight Like a Bitch so far?

WR: Our rehearsals have just begun. Mentioning moments at this point does more harm than good. I confess that my process generally involves not discussing my process.


BM: What message do you hope the production conveys to audiences?

WR: My work as an actor is to allow an audience to experience a human story. I leave the message to others. However, I believe we could change the world (one audience at a time) by bringing people into a room and telling them a human story. We could end racism and bigotry, one audience at a time. Once you have lived in your brother's shoes, once you have felt your sister's pain, you can never objectify him or her again. He is your brother. She is your sister. You cannot deny the humanity of your brother and sister. That's my work and my message.


BM: You’ve worked on several different “re-imaginings” of Shakespeare plays. What do you enjoy most about performing Shakespeare? Which is your favorite of his plays?

WR: What do I enjoy about performing Shakespeare? Hmm. What's not to like? I would encourage you to check out the work of this man for yourself. Visit Ashland, Oregon or Stratford, Ontario, or the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, or whatever great Shakespeare theatre or festival is near you. My sentimental favorite is Twelfth Night because it was my first introduction. My grandfather read the play to me, and I requested it night after night for weeks! I just loved Viola! I wanted her to be my best friend. She was so loyal and brave, grieving for her brother and still enjoying herself in her disguise.


BM: You are an icon to many in the horror community because of your complex, layered, terrifying performances. How do you get into the headspace of characters like that?

WR: Icon? Sheesh! I'm just an actor. I got lucky when the right parts came along at the right time.


BM: As a follow-up to the last question, what attracts you to characters that are darker?

WR: Again, I’m just an actor. I'm sure I've done as many comedies as dramas. Mind you, I'm not complaining. I've always found the villains to be vastly more interesting.


BM: What dream roles to you hope to play?

WR: Lady Bracknell. The rest I'll keep to myself.



BM: Working in genres such as horror and classical theatre that are typically dominated by men both in roles and in leadership, what advice would you give other women who are looking to pursue these spaces?

WR: I would not concern myself with those divisions. However we get our training, the time comes when we start auditioning for work. Chances are, we will find our footing. Advice? Keep working and then work harder. Be ready when your break comes because it will come. Then just hit it right out of the park! It's not exactly a secret method, but if this work is what you love, then my advice is to go for it Full Tilt Boogie!


BM: Last but not least, what’s your favorite horror movie?

WR: The People Under the Stairs.


CORIOLANUS: Fight Like a Bitch runs Wednesdays through Saturdays, starting October 17 through November 18th at 12th Avenue Arts Mainstage in Seattle, WA. For more information and tickets, visit http://coriolanusfightlikeab.bpt.me!