We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Ms. Abbott and learn more about her wonderful life in theater. Ms. Abbott has been teaching at Hamlin for 18 years. During that time she has directed roughly 126 plays.
What is your background with theater/performing arts?
I tried to do theater in high school and college, but I was kind of a repressed theater geek. I went to college (at Middlebury) and majored in English. I then went on to teach English and coach sports for 9 years at different private schools in the Midwest and East Coast. When I was 28 years old I started to question whether I was doing what I truly loved. I was cast in a summer theater play (Mother of Us All by Gertrude Stein) and that experience helped convert me to theater. I had a Master’s in English (also from Middlebury), but took a huge risk, quit my job, sold my horse (I had been a competitive rider) and went to New York City to train at the New Actors Workshop. I loved embodying language, expressing possibilities as I demonstrated compassion and empathy for the characters that I played. There is just so much personal and emotional growth that goes into portraying a character in a play.
What is your favorite role as an actor?
I loved playing Amanda in The Glass Menagerie. I learned how to deeply empathize with her difficult circumstances. She’s a broken person who I profoundly cared for.
What do you like most about working with Hamlin theater students?
I love seeing students build their confidence and take risks. They are great raw material for theater. They are willing to publicly speak and be on stage. I admire their courage, and love their excitement to try new things.
What is a favorite play of yours and one that you loved doing at Hamlin?
One of my favorite plays is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time; I saw it both on Broadway and in San Francisco. I directed The Curious Savage at Hamlin twice; it is one of my favorites. The play questions what it means to be normal and what it means to be an individual.
Who are some of your favorite actors?
Meryl Streep is such a classic actor. Emma Stone is insanely talented. I also really like Bradley Cooper.
How do you incorporate mindfulness into your theater work?
Mindfulness is at the foundation of our theater work. You have to be able to pay attention to everything that is happening right now. The breath is an anchor for mindfulness and for an actor it is a vehicle for everything you need to do. We start every class with mindful breathing. Practicing mindfulness can be the difference between being a good actor, or being a great one.