WHO: Carol Triffle, writer and director of Oh Lost Weekend, the latest production from Portland's most progressive theater company, Imago. In it, she is Vickie Brown from Goshen, New York, who is trapped in a 300-pound tank of water in her trial for treason for the impersonation of Queen Victoria.
So you're the writer, director, and star of this production. How do you keep an emotional distance from it?
Well, I would hope that everyone would be emotionally involved in everything they do and I think. If I don't feel emotionally invested, then I can't do it, it's not theater.
Tell me about your inspiration for this performance.
I started researching Queen Victoria and realized that she was crazy--superstitious and highly respected and loved by her public. Also during that time, if you even dreamed about the Queen, you could be held liable for treason. This story sort of parallels that. In my show, I dream that I am Queen Victoria, and because of that I am put in the tank.
So you actually change clothes inside the tank?
It's not so hard, it's actually kind of fun.
How do you breathe?
Well, I just go up to the top.
What attracted you to Queen Victoria? I mean, she's so old.
Well, I have this picture of two midgets, and one of them is dressed like Queen Victoria, and I think that's what instigated it. And Queen Victoria was really short; I'm really attracted to oddly shaped things.
Were you worried that people would be turned off at all by something so old?
Oh no, it's really done in a way that's exciting, there's a gigantic tank, and a catwalk about 10 feet away. The walls fall away, so even if you weren't interested in it, you could watch it like a moving painting. It's a journey. Anytime I go on the set I feel danger at every second. Anyone who doesn't want to feel danger can't be in the play.
What's the difference between your theater and others?
I think that our backgrounds are much different. Jerry and I both have visual art training, dance, and acrobatics. Most conventional theater trains voice and mind in a different way. We learn to study how other things move, how animals move, how insects move. You just approach the world different, you just see things differently. It's not psychological, it's physical.