Katherine Michelle Tanner can still feel the weight of Margaret Fuller’s dress on stage as it grew 50 feet in every direction, stars appearing all over it. It was the role of a lifetime.
“I had eight layers of clothing on, because that’s what they wore in the 19th century,” Tanner says. “I had to train and run the treadmill just to be able to wear all the clothes. I was blazes hot.”
Tanner played the part of Fuller in the play, “Charm,” based on Fuller’s real life, held at the Orlando Shakespeare Theater Company.
“Margaret was the first feminist in America and very ahead of her time, so the playwright, Kathleen Cahill, wrote things like high-fiving into it,” Tanner says. “I don’t think many roles are written like that, but it very much embodied this character.”
But Tanner is currently investing her time into a character that has become her favorite role yet. She’s playing Holly in the Banyan Theater Company’s production of “Kiss the Moon, Kiss the Sun.”
To many actors, there are certain roles they’re meant to play at certain times in their lives, and this role seems to mirror Tanner’s own life.
“When I was given the script, I was really taken by Holly and her strength — she’s really determined,” Tanner says. “She’s in her late 20s and a recent graduate with a teaching degree, but she can’t find a job in her field, so she’s really going through hard times. She makes impulsive decisions, which I like, but she grows up in the play, and it’s nice that she takes her time to do so. It’s really kind of a beautiful journey. She’s struggling and trying to find her way and make the right choice.”
In the play, Holly spends much of her time at a bus stop, where she meets an interesting character named Robert. The two develop an unlikely, unique friendship.
“Kiss the Moon, Kiss the Sun” marks Tanner’s first show with The Banyan Theater, which will perform the play at Asolo Repertory Theatre’s Jane B. Cook Theatre. The last time Tanner performed there, it was in “Heiress” in 2003. She remembers portraying the heart-wrenching story just before she left for London for the summer.
“It’s nice to come back and do something contemporary at Asolo,” Tanner says. “This is a very sweet, poignant and important little play.”
Katherine Michelle Tanner on ...
ADVICE TO YOUNG ACTORS: “Study the craft, take classes in all of the arts and be interested. By being interested in your character, other people and the director, you will find your way.”
“Kate Winslet and Meryl Streep are simultaneously neck-to-neck for me. They commit fully and give fully of themselves, which allows their range to be really big.”
GETTING INTO CHARACTER: “You live truthfully under those imaginary circumstances. So, if there’s something in a play that you can’t wrap your head around, you have to bring another part of your imagination to let it come to life for you. Over the years, you learn to really follow those characters’ instincts and your instincts as that character and come back out of it as needed. I’m not becoming that character, it’s just a take on their life. You study the craft for 15 to 20 years and find the toolbox as an actor. There are no two ways to approach a character the same.”
Contact Loren Mayo at firstname.lastname@example.org.