Alyssa Coia played Harvest in Hunter College’s rendition of Cows of War. We caught up with her and asked her a couple questions.
After graduating Suffolk County Community College on Long Island with an Associates Degree in Acting Alyssa transferred to Hunter College. She is a Director, Choreographer, Dance teacher, and acting coach.
What was your process in preparing for the role? After being cast in a show my process is usually the same adjusting a few things here and there to fit the style of the show or the character I am playing. Table readings are an extremely important part on my process. Its always helpful to sit down with the script and my fellow cast members and get a feel for the story and characters. After I read the script 10-15 times I begin to do an in depth character analysis. I begin to go through the script and find anything other character’s say about my character or things I say about myself. I make choices and decide if these things are true or not. I see what character’s I interact with in the show and create relationships with them. I try and figure out what a normal day is for this person. What are there likes/ dislikes. I cover all of the ground’s so if someone asks me about Harvest I can tell you her entire life story.
Did you develop a connection to the character you played?
I think its hard not to develop a connection with the character you play. You spend so much time figuring out who they are and what makes them human that they will always have a place in your heart.
Was this an interesting, fun, or challenging role for you to assume? Why and why not?
Harvest was defiantly a challenge for me as an actor. My main obstacle was just trying to find away to love myself enough as an actor that Harvest’s obnoxious love for food would not get in the way of me fully committing to the action on stage.
I noticed almost all of your characters had a unique way of speaking, were you exposed to this sort of speech prior to taken on this role? How did you manage to alter your speech so very well?
I think this question goes hand and hand with what I was saying about character development. Once I created who Harvest was the text didn’t seem to be unique at all. It was the way she communicated.
Do you think ‘Cows of War’ is an appropriate title for the play? Why or why not?
Absolutely. First of all I think its generally intriguing and secondly the Cows are the most important part of the show. They are the glue between the gods and earth, they are suppressed and suffering.
Do you think the play did a good job in capturing the atmosphere of the present reality we live in, given the original play (not Peace) was written years ago? Why or why not?
I think this play did a good job of making us think about the reality we live in.
Can you share any behind-the-scenes stories with us?
ABSOUTLY! Ugh! My favorite story was the first day on set I was table to work with real food on stage. It was decided by the production team that the only food allowed in the theatre would be mash potatoes. They were going to use food coloring to make some look like Chinese food and another to look like pizza sauce. Onstage I threw the mash potatoes in my mouth and instantly wanted to throw up! It was so gross. Freezing cold, instant potatoes, with no seasoning. I got my lines out and starting heaving. When it came to the wedding cake I stuffed my mouth full and skipped most of my lines and ran off stage gagging. I seriously thought I was going to throw up. The director had to call a hold to make sure I was okay and from that point on we cut the mash potatoes out of the show. THANK GOODNESS.
What made you want to act in this play?
I am a theatre major! This is what I want to do for the rest of my life!
What did you like about the play? What did you dislike about the play? What aspect of the play resonated with you?
I try not to have options on the show as a whole. Its more important to me that the audience left having options. What did they like/dislike? What affected them? Thats what theatre’s all about.
Where and when did your training to be an actor begin?What inspired you to be an actor?
My training began in high school. I took weekly acting classes and took part in all school and community theatre productions. My entire life I have been a dancer and when I got to middle school I auditioned for my first musical. I was hooked immediately.
Who are your favorite actors?
Ellen Degeneres and Melissa Macarthy
What would your dream role be? What would you bring to that role?
Dream role: Tracey from hairspray – but I can’t sing for the life of me!