Reporter’s note: Each summer, Chautauqua Theater Company opens its stage doors to young actors and theatermakers for a fully funded fellowship. This summer’s conservatory includes 14 actors, four design fellows and one directing fellow. They will work alongside CTC staff and visiting professionals, and serve as the core of the theater company for all CTC shows. To help readers get to know them, interviews with CTC conservatory members will run regularly in the weekend edition of the Daily throughout the summer.
Who: Maggie Mason, Chautauqua Theater Company conservatory actor.
She started the season as Belinda in Noises Off and later this season will appear in Birthday Candles, part of the New Play Workshop, and Romeo & Juliet.
Where she’s from: Mason, whose mother is American, grew up in London and attended college in the United States. She moved to California after being accepted to Stanford and recently graduated from the Brown/Trinity Rep M.F.A. program in acting.
That British accent made her recognizable on the grounds — although she said she did tweak her dialects so her Belinda character was “a little bit lower London” and Flavia, the character Belinda played in the play-within-the-play, was “a little bit posher.”
“I feel like people recognized my voice more than they recognized my face,” she said.
After the season ends, Mason will be moving to New York.
First theatrical memory: “I was in Montessori. I was in The Gingerbread Man. I was not the baker,” said Mason, who described her role as “Dough Piece No. 1.”
Her costume was a pillowcase with a hole cut out for her face, and her makeup was lipstick her mother applied.
“I spent the whole performance puckering my mouth to not get the lipstick everywhere,” she said.
Dream roles: There’s a lot of Shakespeare roles Mason said she would like to do, from Iago to Beatrice and Lady Macbeth.
“Hamlet would be great,” she said. “I think seeing a female body having to go through the things that Hamlet’s been through makes you understand the situation in a different way.”
Beyond Shakespeare, Mason said she wants the opportunity to work on new plays and to originate roles.
Why Chautauqua: Mason said she had heard about Chautauqua, but it was some time before she understood what the experience would be like because it is so unique.
“The people you get to work with are just going to be lifelong collaborators, or at least friends, or individuals that will be working and will circle back into your life,” Mason said.
How she winds down: Being around people, talking and making friends, is Mason’s ideal pastime when not at the theater.
“There is something just so intoxicating about being around artists and talking about art and talking about the work and talking about what you’ve just done,” Mason said.
Favorite food: “I think if I’m cooking, I just kind of make everything quite spicy,” Mason said. “I like cooking. I’m not very good at following recipes because I see the recipe, and I find it hard to stay within the confines.”
Currently watching: Mason said she is several episodes behind, but otherwise enjoying, “The Handmaid’s Tale.” She also recently started “Game of Thrones,” but said doing the farcical Noises Off has made her appreciate performing comedy or watching a quick 20 minutes of “The Mindy Project” or “Master of None.”
“Doing Noises has made me realize how delightful it is to do a comedy, just for yourself as an actor, as a performer, for your own emotional state of mind,” Mason said.