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Q&A With Kayla Kearney, Chautauqua Theater Company Conservatory Actor

Kayla Kearney

Who: Kayla Kearney, Chautauqua Theater Company conservatory actor.

Kearney will be onstage as the mischievous fairy Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Kearney said she’s enjoyed exploring the unique, non-human ways her character moves across the stage and the challenges she has faced.

“I haven’t had a part in a while that’s been this physical,” Kearney said. “So it’s really fun to connect with that inner child, to get on the floor and just roll around.”


Where she’s from: Kearney is originally from Santa Rosa, California, and just finished her M.F.A. at the University of California, Irvine, where CTC Artistic Director Andrew Borba is a professor.

After auditioning for a position with CTC, she packed up and moved across the country for the 2019 season, despite the fact that she’s never lived anywhere but California, and only ever came to  New York to visit New York City.

One thing she’s still getting used to is how rainy Chautauqua can be.

“I’ve never lived for an extended period of time on the East Coast, and seeing all the rain, I was like, ‘But it’s summer,’ ” Kearney said. “My friend had to remind me that in some parts of the country, rain isn’t seasonal.”


Favorite theater memory: Kearney said she distinctly remembers when she was 9 years old and her grandmother brought her to the theater for the first time. She saw a rendition of Annie Get Your Gun, and fell in love.

“I don’t even remember where it was, it was probably just a community theater production, but I was in awe,” Kearney said. “My eyes were the size of saucers, and I was entranced. My grandma tells me that I just turned to her and said ‘How do they do that?’ ”


Favorite role: In a production of Teen RENT when she was 17, Kearney said she had one of the most formative experiences of her life.

“It was the first time I’d met people outside of my high school who did theater, and it was the first time that I met out, queer teens,” Kearney said. “So that was super important for me, and through that experience, I was able to accept myself and figure out who I am.”


Favorite food: Anything to do with potatoes.

“The conservatory would probably laugh if they were to read this because they know I love potatoes so much,” Kearney said. “I just love them though. You really can’t go wrong.”


Favorite song: It’s hard to pin one down.

Kearney listens to musical soundtracks, although she says she hates to be “that person.” She also enjoys Ingrid Michaelson and Sara Bareilles.

“When Sara Bareilles joined the Broadway world, I was like, ‘Perfect. My worlds are colliding, and I no longer have to separate them,’ ” Kearney said.


Dream vacation: Ireland. Kearney said she’d love to visit the country to reconnect with her family’s roots.

“There’s something about going to the place that you originated that feels almost spiritual or special,” Kearney said.


Plans for the future: First NYC, then the world. Kearney hopes to move to the city to pursue acting on a live stage and on TV. She thinks there’s no better time than the present for actors to enter into this new “golden age of television.”

Kearney also hopes to do work in theater for the queer and transgender community, by the queer and transgender community.

“Bringing my community into theater and making sure our voices are heard is something that’s really important to me,” Kearney said.

Tags : Chautauqua Theater CoQ&AThe Artstheater
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The author Duard Headley

Duard Headley is from tiny Yellow Springs, Ohio, and studies journalism and American studies at Miami University in Ohio. Coming hot off the heels of performing in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream last summer, he is excited to cover theater at Chautauqua, merging his love for writing and theater into one experience. In his free time, he enjoys acting, reading, and staring wistfully into the distance as though he were deep in thought (He usually isn’t).

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