TEN Cast Interview: Jade Sylvan

So far our series of cast interviews has revealed pig musicals, awkward early acting experiences, and other fun tidbits. What will we learn today? Our next interviewee is Jade Sylvan, who plays a renegade in TEN and was also involved in writing the script. In real life, Jade is a writer, a performer and teacher of poetry, and a yoga teacher. Rumor has it there will be mandatory yoga sessions on set. Jade has lots of performances coming up before disappearing into the world of TEN in December; check out her website to find out where to see Jade.

Photos by Rachel Leah Blumenthal

What’s your acting background? I was a theatre kid in high school. I was in many bizarre one-act plays throughout my teenage years, and I also have some improv experience, both comedy and serious improv. In college I kind of went in other directions with my creative pursuits. But for the past five years or so, I have done a lot of performance art and spoken word performance, and I’m just now getting back into doing what I would call acting.

What’s your general background? Where’d you grow up? I grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana, and I went to college at Indiana University Bloomington, where I majored in religious studies and Japanese, which has so much to do with what I’m doing now in my life. I moved to Boston after graduating college because I wanted to be a writer, and there was a great literary scene in Boston as far as I could tell. And I just wanted to move out of the Midwest and be near the ocean because the ocean’s awesome. Also, I was obsessed with The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner, and the character Quentin goes to Harvard. So, I was fascinated by Cambridge specifically.

Did it live up to your expectations? Yeah, it’s depressing. And erudite. Especially this time of year, you know?

What got you interested in TEN? Well, I was out at a show, and I got an email from Mike and Sophia saying, “Jade, do you want to come over to our house and be a bloody woman in her underwear and a pig mask on Wednesday morning?” And I said, “Yeah!”

[Sophia interjects, “You make us sound like the bad guys here!”]

So I came over, and Sophia, Karin Webb, and I lay up in their attic with pig masks on in our underwear as Michael poured fake blood all over us and then filmed us with his camera, and after that I was just hooked. I was like, “Anything you guys want to make this project a reality…” I just really believed in it after that. As anyone would.

What do you anticipate will be the biggest challenge for you in this project? It’s hard for me to think of things that are difficult for me, so you have to be bear with me. [Laughs.] The biggest challenge – staying a week in Rhode Island is going to be really weird. I have been to Newport before; growing up in the Midwest you hear about these places and you never think you’re really going to go there. They just don’t seem like real places. When I first moved to New England, I had never been to New England before, and I’m constantly shocked by how New English everything really looks and is. So I think living in Rhode Island during the winter is going to be very interesting, in a house full of 12 women, or whatever, and Michael.

[“It’s gonna be awesome,” says Mike.]

[“High five!” high fives sound recordist Joel, who will also be in the house and is probably not one of the 12 women.]

I think that all of our menstrual cycles are going to align with Michael’s menstrual cycle.

[“Yes. I think that is scientifically accurate,” agrees Mike.]

Fortunately I have a Diva Cup, so I’m not too worried about it. Put that in there. And then link to Diva Cup’s website – I like to advertise for them. [Editor’s note: Here you go: http://divacup.com]

[A discussion of competing brands ensues. “Can we get Diva Cup sponsorship for this thing?” wonders Mike.]

Aside from the alignment of menstrual cycles, what are you most looking forward to in this project? I really am excited about the movie and seeing how it takes shape. I’ve been involved in the script-writing process, which has been super fun, and I think that the film is going to surprise a lot of people. I have utter faith in Michael and Sophia as far as seeing it through to the finished product. So I’m looking forward to just being involved in the process and getting back into acting and seeing how TEN is birthed into the world and how people receive it. It’s cool to see how projects take shape and then take on the little lives of their own that they have.

How are you preparing for your role? Push-ups, and I’m walking everywhere because I want to get into good shape. I know I need to be in my underwear, so I’ve been trying to walk as many places as possible instead of driving or taking the T. And cutting down on my sweets basically. And just pumping up generally so that I have nice guns and abs for the movie, ‘cause everybody likes that.

What is your favorite pig in history or literature? Piggy from Lord of the Flies.

Outside of TEN, you are currently involved in the Encyclopedia Show Somerville as fact-checker Jack Van Sly. Are you planning on fact-checking everything that happens in TEN? Well, I have different hats, you know what I mean? One of the things that I’m really working on this year as sort of a New Year’s resolution is separating my different roles and making sure that I keep my fact-checking in the fact-checking arena in thh world of the Encyclopedia Show and not let that carry over into my other relationships and projects. But thank you for asking. Yes, I am the fact-checker for the Encyclopedia Show Somerville. The next one is November 19th at the Davis Square Theatre. Come. Please. Lots of talent and love. I do it as a boy and I tape my boobs down and I wear suspenders and glasses. It’s wonderful. Yay.

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