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Interview

Lisa Joyce Rehearsed ‘A Master Builder’ for 2 Years

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Lisa Joyce Rehearsed ‘A Master Builder’ for 2 Years
Photo Source: Matt Hoyle

Lisa Joyce has been nominated for a Drama Desk Award, but she’s poised for even bigger things as the mysterious younger woman in “A Master Builder,” an adaptation of the Ibsen play from Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory and directed by Jonathan Demme, in select theaters July 23.

On being offered the role.
“Andre [Gregory] doesn’t audition people because he thinks it’s inhumane. I met with Andre in the winter of, like, 2010; we had tea and talked about Wally’s adaptation. And he said, ‘What do you think?’ And I said, ‘I’d love to come aboard!’ ”

On working with Andre Gregory.
“The kind of creative space that Andre orchestrates for artists is so luxurious it becomes a meditation. You go in and you just do it. The only things he’ll really do are pull you aside and say, ‘Go deeper here,’ or give you images or a poem or something to read. He really creates this space for the unexpected to happen where you’re allowed to surprise yourself and you won’t be judged for it. He’s totally outside, off the grid doing his own thing in his own really special way.”

On rehearsing for almost two years.
“When it was over I was like, ‘OK, Lisa, you’re never going to get that again and just be grateful for that and return to the real world.’ Because the reality is we were doing it for free, and everyone involved makes livings in another way. It was so, so great. I feel kind of spoiled!”

On what she learned from Wallace Shawn.
“What he clarified for me is no matter what you’re doing, whether it’s a voiceover commercial or a play or a film, it’s the power of going from moment to moment. And not having made decisions that you’re going to do it. To prepare and know your intentions and know your mark but still be open to the possibility that it should feel like an improv! That’s the craft of it, to be open to letting things surprise you even though there’s all this pressure to tell the story.”

On rising to the occasion.
“When you work with those people it’s, ‘Oh, we’re working at this level now.’ So in some ways it’s even more demanding. It’s that weird thing: It’s definitely better to have had the experience than to never know. When I was in college everyone thinks it’s, ‘Here I come, world!’ And then you fail and you learn, ‘Oh, wait, maybe I’m not so great.’ I hope that my work is evolving and getting better than that kind of naïve thinking!”

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