Adelin Phelps is one of only two cast members
who bring all of the characters in understood to
life. Addie infuses strength, heart, and incredible
skill into this performance, and we recently
chatted with her about her rehearsal experience.
Tell us about your role(s).
On Julie: I think when I first started working on this play for the original workshop, I connected more immediately to Julie. She is a young woman in her early thirties, married to Chris, with a very full emotionality. In a lot of ways I think she could be a lot of different women. The things I find in her....she is a songbird who doesn't sing anymore, she is incredibly passionate, full of different kinds of fire, but fighting for an internal light that has dimmed. She is lost, but has momentum.
On Rachel: I am falling more and more in love with Rachel. She is a strong woman, convicted in her beliefs, a true believer in God and heaven, a wonderful mother, single mother, and full of passion as well. She is patient, direct, resilient, and believes in miracles. We share different beliefs, but each day I am trying more and more to deepen the connection I believe I have with this character.
Why this project? Why now?
I love how Tyler Mills has written this world. These characters have a lot of specificity, and because of that, there are portals in the show, and portals in their armor and skin that a lot of people can enter through. The play is about intimacy, connection, acceptance, and how people struggle to walk forward on tectonic plates that are shifting and falling away completely. How we communicate, how our country operates, how we hold each other as fellow human beings, and how we deeply abandon each other. I believe we are all living with a lot of pain, or if not pain, numbness, and we are turning away from each other in a certain way. I think this play asks important questions and raises the issue: when thinks break, when things tilt, or become smoke and mirrors, or become cruel and unaccepting, how do we find each other again? How do we co-exist? This play is topical, mysterious and quite truthful.
You’ve been involved with Understood since the first workshop in 2017. How has living with these characters for so long informed your process?
It is wonderful to have lived with this piece. It has changed quite a bit since last October! It is like an animal that keeps growing up, getting stronger, shedding different skins. It is a play that has stayed in my thoughts a lot, and that can be a good thing and a bad thing for the process, haha. I feel so grateful I have gotten to hold flickers and muscles of these women over the past several months. The inner inner orb of the play remains true to me, but each phase in the process, each iteration of the script has felt very different. It feels like you are working on something alive. It is hard. It is challenging. And I really like that.
Why work with Trademark?
Tyler Michaels King and Tyler Mills. I wanted to work with these artists. They are smart, kind, very talented, and thoughtful. I had lots of reasons to say yes to this work. I admire Trademark's mission, and I love the questions they are asking about how we make work. They work with incredible designers, they care for their audience, and they care about theater as something whole, not as some clipped fraction of something. Also, Sophie Peyton, our Assistant Director. She has one of the most brilliant brains I have come across.