Rachel Meghan Sather played Hermes in Cows of War. She is in her final semester at Hunter as a Theatre major. She mainly writes and performs. She has written plays, art directed for TV and commercial projects, worked in comedy, and written for a number of websites. She currently writes for LoveTV (a sex and relationships website) and FLASH (an up-and-coming online zine), and she performs as Janet in the New York City Rocky Horror Picture Show shadowcast. The character Hermes is a unique young goddess. She puts on a cold demeanor and maintains a powerful persona, but she really just wants validation from her peers. She wants to be taken seriously by War, and does whatever she can to get him to notice her. Unfortunately, War, the Profiteers and Havoc see her as just their whipping boy. Once she meets Graleo, she realizes that there are decent people in the world, a fact that empowers her. By the end of the play, she has questioned her own morals, and sees through all of the nonsense that occurs. In the end, she ends up alone but unfazed.
What was your process in preparing for the role? I did a little bit of research, but I actually wanted to stay away from the Greek mythology because I really wanted to focus on finding the humanity of the character. I did use her background as Zeus’s daughter in my development, as I think that’s where her desire for male validation came from. I brought a lot of myself to the role, in the sense that Hermes has very dramatic emotional changes and attachments to other beings, something I related to quite a bit. She also has a very dry and sarcastic sense of humor, which I had fun playing around with. I definitely felt connected to Hermes, because she became so much like me. It was very hard to let her go. But at some point during the rehearsal process, we kind of became one and the same.
Was this an interesting, fun, or challenging role for you to assume? Why and why not? Hermes was definitely the most fun role I’ve ever played. I usually perform new works, but never characters with this much life. It was a little challenging because through developing Hermes I had to come to terms with a lot about my own self. Not to mention the intense physicality of the character, as I spent a lot of the show running around and having emotional outbursts.
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 played with levels a lot in my speaking. I wanted her to sound very dry at the beginning of the play and in her first scene with the boys, as I wanted her to be craving dominance at that point of the show. Once Graleo “empowers” her and Peace is freed, she sees some hope and beauty in the world. She’s still sarcastic, but she speaks a little faster and smiles a little more. She retreats back to her old self by the end of it, as she is the only one that foresees what terrible things could happen when War marries Peace. Not to mention that literally all of the men she had sought validation from get married at the same time in front of her.
Do you think ‘Cows of War’ is an appropriate title for the play? Why or why not? Compared to Peace, the original title of the play, Cows of War comes across as a little more lighthearted and modern, which is what the play is. We touch on some deeper themes, but it’s definitely a more specific title than the original.
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 definitely think so. I’m not usually a huge fan of topical references in plays because I feel it dates them, but even with those aside I feel it is very poignant, especially in light of the recent election.
Can you share any behind-the-scenes stories with us? I bonded with this cast almost immediately. We would go out to the bar some nights after rehearsal and just talk and relate to each other, which was great. One night a bunch of us got pretty tipsy and decided to take the tram to Roosevelt Island in the middle of the night. That was probably the most fun I had during the show.
What made you want to act in this play? I actually wasn’t even planning on auditioning for the show. I literally decided to do it the day of. I hadn’t acted in a play since spring 2015 (in A Doll’s House, also at Hunter), so I figured it was time to do another one. I didn’t become super attached until I read for Hermes. I read the part and knew I could do something with her words, so by callbacks I had really become eager to join the production.
What did you like about the play? What did you dislike about the play? What aspect of the play resonated with you? I honestly really love most of the characters in the play. I think each of them has a likable aspect to them. The voices of each character is really clear in the script, and I think the actors beautifully portrayed them. I disliked some portions of the script, however. I’m not big on toilet humor, and the rape jokes were very uncomfortable for me. What resonated with me most was the philosophy of the idea of Peace and War, and how questionable it is that both can coexist.
Where and when did your training to be an actor begin? What inspired you to be an actor? I began acting when I was five years old. I did a lot of silly musical theatre back then, so that’s really what inspired me. Musicals were my thing for a long time, but at this point I mostly like acting in straight plays or things I have written myself. Who are your favorite actors? I really love indie and cult movies, so I guess a lot of my favorite actors come from there. I love Tim Curry and Sissy Spacek and all of the Dreamlanders (the actors in John Waters’s early films). As far as modern day actors go, I really love Greta Gerwig and all of the ladies from SNL.
What would your dream role be? What would you bring to that role? My three dream roles are Janet in The Rocky Horror Show, Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors, and Carrie in any iteration of Stephen King’s Carrie. I already play Janet in the RHPS shadowcast, but that’s a little different because I literally mimic Susan Sarandon’s performance in front of a movie screen. I have a lot of ideas of what I would do with that character, so I would love to play her in the stage production. I also love writing parts for myself in my plays, so I guess they would be dream roles as well.