Q&A: From Pharaoh to Zoe, Caton continues to cultivate her craft

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Reporter’s Note: Each summer, Chautauqua Theater Company opens its stage doors to young actors and theater makers for a fully funded fellowship. This summer’s conservatory includes 14 actors, four design fellows and one directing fellow. They 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: Hannah Rose Caton, 24, Chautauqua Theater Company conservatory actor.

Beginning this weekend, she can be seen on stage as Zoe in An Octoroon. Caton said she is grateful to work with a diverse and talented group of artists and described her character as the play’s moral heart.

“(Zoe’s neighbors) looked down upon her because she’s one-eighth black; yet her father loves her so much and she was brought up as a lady, and she has been privileged in that kind of way,” Caton said. “She’s been given these freedoms, but she’s not really free.”

Where she’s from: Caton is from London, England, where she is the middle of three sisters. When she’s home, she loves watching Westerns with her dad and talking through the entire movie. She said she notices a difference between the sarcasm and wit of Brits, and Americans’ more direct, wordplay-driven sense of humor.

Come fall, Caton will begin her fourth year studying drama at The Juilliard School.

First theatrical memory: When she was eight years old, Caton played Pharaoh in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

“I remember my teacher wanting me to base my pharoah off of Elvis Presley,” Caton said. “I had to do this weird lip thing, and to this day I can’t do it. I’m very ashamed.”

Theater credits: Caton acted alongside Morgan Freeman in the movie “Last Knights,” playing the actor’s daughter. In her second year at Juilliard, she played the title role in Hamlet.

“I think for me, the way (into the character) was that powerful connection Hamlet has with his father and the loss of that,” Caton said. “I’m far away from home and I miss my family, and I really found my way in through that sympathy.”

Favorite way to relax: When not on stage, Caton enjoys yoga and figure skating.

“If I can find an ice rink and skate, that just makes me feel like I’m flying,” Caton said. “It’s really freeing for me.”

Favorite food: Caton loves her grandmother’s west Indian cooking.

“My grandma is such a graceful presence, and I think that really comes out in her food,” she said.

Currently reading: Twyla

Tharp’s The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life.

“Being an artist isn’t just when I’m in my theatrical space,” Caton said. “It’s a lifestyle, and that book really inspires me.”

Currently watching: Caton loved the first season of “Big Little Lies” and can’t wait to see what happens when Meryl Streep joins the cast.

Why Chautauqua: An international student, Caton heard about Chautauqua’s reputation and felt it could help her cultivate her craft.

“I heard some great stories about the choices of plays that Chautauqua chooses to do,” Caton said. “I felt very on board that we were creating art for a community and that the art had a power of enlightenment to it.”

Tags : "An Octoroon"Chautauqua Theater CompanyJoseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

The author Kevin C. Vestal

Kevin Vestal is from Westerville, Ohio, and is a rising senior at Miami University in Ohio, studying journalism and professional writing with a minor in theater. Last summer, he interned for The Florence Newspaper in Italy, and he is excited to cover Chautauqua Theater Company and the Family Entertainment Series for the Daily. An avid thespian, Kevin recently performed on stage in Tartuffe and also has an irrational fear of wrists.