TEN Cast Interview: UnAmerika’s Sweetheart Karin Webb

Just when you thought we were done posting cast interviews, surprise! We’ve got a few more lovely ladies of the cast of TEN to introduce to you. Today, meet UnAmerika’s Sweetheart Karin Webb, performer/director/artist/writer extraordinaire. From puppets to burlesque to drag to character acting, Karin does everything. In TEN, she’ll be playing a medium. Read on to discover how she became a professional storyteller at 11, how being in a show makes her feel like she’s falling in love, how she felt about her first fresh bacon experience, and lots more.

Photos by Rachel Leah Blumenthal

What’s your acting background? I’ve been acting since I was extremely young. I’ve been a professional storyteller since I was 11, and I always did school plays and that kind of thing. I think the first role that I ever really made was when I was in second grade. We were doing a solstice play, and I was like, “Oh, we should totally have the sun and the moon and everyone else should be clouds, and we’ll choreograph this whole dance!” So they were trying to figure who the sun would be, and I was just excited to choreograph it, and they’re like, “You should be the sun!” and I was like, “Yay!” So it was my first starring role. Later I went to acting school – I got my BFA in acting at Boston University – and I went to clown school, the Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theatre. I started a drag troupe called All the King’s Men. I do legit plays as well as burlesque and drag and whatever comes to my mind. I basically like to do everything. All the time.

When you say you were a professional storyteller at 11, what does that mean exactly? Is there a training program or something? Well, there was a storyteller who came to my school, and he did a gifted and talented program that I got into. Basically we got to get out of class every Friday for the entire day, which was awesome, and do something totally cool, like learn how to act. The class was actually how to create a character and then write a story for your character, which is pretty much what I do now – character acting. My first character that I created was Dick Schmidt, Private Eye Detective. It’s kind of funny that the first character I ever created was a drag character. Fast forward 25 years later and I’m still playing the same characters. Themes surface, and you look back over what you do, and you’re like, “Man, I just keep on telling the same story over and over and over again.” I think we get better at it. So the teacher really liked what I was doing, and he thought I was pretty rad, and he was like, “You should do this.” He got me a couple gigs, and then I got more gigs, and I was just a professional storyteller – and I also got to teach it when I was a kid, which was really cool.

What about your non-performing background? Where’d you grow up, etc.? I grew up in Maine. I’m a Maine-iac. [Repeats “maniac,” this time in song.] I’m 34, I have a cat, Tamlyn or Tammy. I’m a divorcée. [Laughs.]

[Jade: I feel like that word is so underused.]

I know, I love it. I like to actually describe myself as a rabidly bisexual divorcée.

[Jade: We needed one on set.]

Anytime you need a rabidly bisexual divorcée, just call me. I will do whatever show you want.

What got you interested in being a part of TEN? Well, I really like Michael and Sophia. [Laughs.]

[Jade: That was in the contract.]

It was in the contract I just signed. No, I really think that they’re phenomenal people, extremely creative, and I enjoy watching them on stage. I was excited to have the opportunity to join them on a project when they were doing the concept trailer for TEN. That was the first thing we did together, I think. We just kind of bumbled around and bumped into each other here and there, and it was like, “Oh, let’s collaborate!” and it was super super fun, and I fell hardcore in love, and they invited me to be one of their little flitty fairies that hang out and make more art.

What do you anticipate will be the most challenging aspect of the project for you? The biggest challenge will be extreme lack of sleep, I think. I’ll also be performing in The Slutcracker while we’re shooting this, so I’m anticipating just basically not sleeping for a couple weeks. But that’s OK. I find that when I’m being creative and that’s what’s happening in my life, I actually don’t need a lot of sleep and food. I liken it to when you first fall in love, and your body doesn’t need anything. It’s like, you don’t need to sleep, you don’t need to eat, you don’t need to drink water; you just kind of exist in a euphoric state for a while. That’s what I’m like when I’m in a show.

What are you most looking forward to? Oh man! I’m looking forward to just being around an awesome cast and an awesome crew. That’s just something I really love.

[Jade: We’ll sleep together in a real pile!]

Exactly. I think I’m just looking forward to having fun with it. The script is hilarious. You can hear the voices so clearly. It’s really great. I think I’m just excited. Being there and doing it is what I’m most excited for, which is maybe a boring way to answer that question. It’s not really specific. It’s not, like, craft table or anything.

[Jade: Wait. What’s craft table?]

On a movie set, it’s where you eat.

[Michael: Whoa, were you expecting to be eating during this?]

No! I wasn’t expecting to eat, because I’m going to be in love, so I’m not going to eat.

[Jade: Are you looking forward to mandatory yoga?]

I am so looking forward to mandatory yoga. Absolutely.

[Jade: I can’t wait for Michael to do mandatory yoga.]

[Michael: I’ll probably be busy…]

We’ll do it in your room and stretch you when you’re sleeping. I guess that’s what I’m looking forward to – stretching Michael while he sleeps during mandatory yoga.

How are you preparing for your role? Preparing?! What, I need to prepare for this? [Riotous laughter.]

[Jade: The role was written around Karin.]

[Michael: It actually kind of was.]

Um, well, I’m doing things like getting my highlighters out and spending time reading over my lines. I think that for me, the hardest part of acting is learning lines. This is probably why I do so much drag and burlesque and dance. You don’t really have to learn lines when you do those things. But the group read-through is really my first step in allowing myself to solidly look at the character and make some decisions, because until now I had a broad idea, but the script wasn’t really finalized. Now that it’s finalized and we’re all going to be in the room hearing each other’s voices and playing off of each other’s energies, I think that a lot of relationship possibilities will come to the forefront, and that’s when I start to do my more impactful work. Until now, a lot of it has just been dreaming and thinking and playing with ideas and looking up pictures, just kind of the subconscious collecting bits from the ether type…this is totally written around me! [Laughs.] Grasping at the astral plane for dusty tidbits to throw in the back of my skull.

What’s your favorite pig in history or literature? Well, I would have to say my favorite pig is probably my character Rico, but that’s more of the chauvinist variety. I guess Charlotte’s Web. That might be a little too obvious. It’s a pig. It’s a classic. It’s a little bit of a creepy answer, but if I think of my favorite pig in the real reality of my life, it’s the first actual pig that I ate. My dad worked for this company and one of his co-workers kept pigs, so he would slaughter them and make bacon and all that. He gave my dad some bacon, and I remember eating real bacon for the first time, bacon that was just totally fresh and was hand-created and grown and murdered, and it was amazing. I was a kid, and I just remember being like, wow. There’s so much difference between killing things that you love and eating them – and just bringing them home from the supermarket. That’s probably a really bad way to answer the question.

It’s fascinating, but let’s end back on an acting note. What has been your favorite moment performing? Every moment performing is my favorite moment. I’m also really bad with favorites. I can tell you what my favorite feeling is when I’m performing: it’s that moment when you just feel like there is nothing other than the moment that you’re in. That you are creating it and breathing it and being it, and that you’re there so clearly with your audience, and that they’re feeling it and breathing it in with you. I try to achieve that every time I perform. Sometimes it’s easier than others. But for me, performance is really just about being so intensely present that anything can happen even though you know what it is. Anything can happen. And then sometimes anything does happen, which is phenomenal.

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One Response

  • […] TEN the Movie was born last year as what we thought would be just a fun trailer to make for the annual Brattle Theatre Trailer Smackdown! Of course, things don’t always go as planned and we’re in the midst of putting the final touches on a full-length film loosely based on our original trailer! Well, it was Smackdown time once again, and while we weren’t able to pull out of our TEN cave in time to make another trailer, we gladly showed up to be extras in Izzy Lee‘s post-apocalyptic western trailer for John Smith. Izzy! Get working on the feature length! There is a precedent! A precedent which already includes UnAmerika’s Sweetheart Karin Webb! […]

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