Get to know actor Sharon Washington, who plays Eva in the Primary Stages production of Billy Porter’s While I Yet Live.
Tell us a little about your character, Eva.
I’ve based my character Eva’s relationship with Maxine (played by S. Epatha Merkerson) on the relationship between my mom and her sister, my Aunt Millie. Even though Eva and Maxine are not sisters, the dynamic is similar.
What’s your favorite Thanksgiving tradition?
Cooking two turkeys so everyone gets to have their favorite part. And even though I never really liked the taste, I loved the look on the table of the glazed ham covered with pineapple rings and maraschino cherries in the center. There was a prop ham made for this production that we had in rehearsal. It looked exactly like that but got cut during tech week. I miss it. I’m hoping to take it home as a souvenir.
How did you approach the play and your character? Have there been any surprising discoveries about your character during the rehearsal process?
This is a very personal piece, so I started with the women from my own family to put together aspects of my character. I know this woman. The women of this play are very familiar to me: they are my aunties, women from my church, etc. So I didn’t have to reach very far. Then Billy filled in with stories about the real woman he based Eva on (his mom’s friend) and that helped define her even more. And the beauty about playing onstage with Epatha and the rest of this amazing cast is that I make discoveries about Eva everyday. It’s a joy!
What do you hope audiences will take away from this performance?
That life is a process. That we can make mistakes along the way, that we have to make mistakes along the way in order to continue to grow. That forgiveness is part of that growth. Maybe the hardest part. And that the path that is right for you may not be the one that is right for me, and that’s OK. We can love each other anyhow and respect the differences.
Performances run through October 31st at The Duke on 42nd Street. To order tickets online, click here. Or you can call the box office at (646) 223-3010.