Relatively new to Chicago, Theo Allyn can currently be seen in The Matchmaker at the Goodman Theatre. Originally from Pittsburgh, Ms. Allyn has worked regionally with City Theatre, the Pittsburgh Public Theater, Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theatre, the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera and Bricolage. As a teaching artist-in-residence at the University of Pittsburgh, she co-devised and starred in Her Hamlet, a movement-driven piece combining Shakespeare’s text with the imagined narrative of Jude, Shakespeare’s daughter. Recent film credits include Progression, written and directed by Gab Cody and Sam Turich. Recent television appearances include Nickelodeon’s Supah Ninjas, directed by Lev Spiro. Ms. Allyn studied at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, the Stella Adler Acting Studio and the Atlantic Theatre Company. She is represented by Paonessa Talent.
There are so many things!! I love the theater with all my heart because of how collaborative it is. I think as a young person just starting out, the appeal of acting was very selfish - I liked how it felt to be good at something, and I liked how it felt to immerse myself in a character, in another world. But now, as an adult, as a mom, what I love most is the collaboration - the creating of a world by many people, the telling of a story because every contributor is necessary. The possibility to use theater to change the world also keeps me in it - and I don't mean in revolutionary way, at least not exclusively. But to give an audience member the safe space to feel something, to ask something, to learn something - there's nothing quite like that. An as an actor in the theater, as opposed to film and television, I get to share that with the audience.
The best thing about being an artist is...
The feeling that my work is my passion, rather than merely a means to make a living.
The biggest obstacle in working with self is?
As an actor, most things are completely out of my control, unless I'm making my own work. The way I look, whether or not an agent is fighting for me, whether or not a casting director is interested in me, whether or not a critic likes the play - I can't do anything about a lot of things. I can only do my work with joy and fierce faith in my ability and let the chips fall where they may.
What advice you would give self at the very beginning of your training and professional career?
Take care of your self - your heart, your mind, your body. You won't be able to do justice to the work if you're a mess in real life.
Are there any rituals you created to help you "face avoidance" that plagues any artist occasionally? Would you describe what works for you?
I always throw away sides after an audition, to remind myself to let go and move on to the next. I say thank you to the universe a lot for opportunities so that I can stay connected to gratitude. I try new things as much as possible so that I stay alive and awake. And I try to spend as much time with my daughter as possible because at the end of the day, she's my greatest work of art.
Talk about a piece of work that you experienced recently (could be a book, theatre, film, etc...) that moved you and how it found its place in your your work?
Lookingglass did a production of Title and Deed with Michael Patrick Thornton and it took my breath away. Will Eno seems like a playwright that you either love or hate, there doesn't really seem to be a middle ground, but I am decidedly in the love camp. And Michael Patrick Thornton might be my favorite Chicago actor of all time. The staggering simplicity of this production; the stillness; the truth telling - it broke my heart wide open in all the best ways. It inspired me to reconnect to the value of simple stillness, and it reminded me how hungry I am to speak beautiful language. Also, the Albany Park Theater project had a run of a show called Feast, and these kids' fearlessness was out of this world inspiring. It sparked a renewed sense of fearlessness in my own work.
What other art form do you connect to? How does this craft/discipline help you in your work?
I love to write, although I have no idea what I'm doing most of the time. And improvisation has recently become a new love. I think the sense of play, the sense of experimentation and risk and absence of self-consciousness inherent in the needs of improv all impact my work.
Describe your ritual or productive day at work?
I find that for me, each show is different. I like to warm up my body and my voice, but I usually let the needs of the show lead me in terms of what that means. I don't have much of a routine that I'm married to, honestly.
Describe effective techniques you use to increase your focus/productivity when working on a project?
I find that for me, I often have to leave my home. I get easily distracted if I'm in my own space, but if I'm at coffee shop or in a rehearsal room, the only thing that matters is what I'm working on.
How do you reward self for a job well done?
That varies, too. I've been known to have mini dance parties with myself, I've treated myself to a fancy coffee beverage or a smoothie from a swanky health food store. Sometimes all I need is a solid pep talk, like "Whatever happens, whether you book it or not, you came ready to play, and you totally crushed it."
In 2016, SUPER SPACE is serving as a vehicle to facilitate Created to Create Project.
CREATED TO CREATE
INTRODUCING ONE ARTIST PER WEEK, FOR 52 WEEKS IN 2016.
Beginning, January, 1st, 2016
ACTORS, ARTISTS, THEATRE MAKERS, FILM MAKERS, DESIGNERS, TEACHING ARTISTS, STUDENTS all chosen because they spend a part each day creating. Artists will be chosen in no particular order.
Introduce artists from different parts of the world. People who use different mediums and whose practice is at a different skill level. A thing they all have in common is unique sense of style and self-expression.