We first met Mehry Eslaminia earlier this season in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, and she will return to the IRT stage this spring in our season-closing production of Noises Off. Read on to learn more about Mehry!
What has been your favorite role to play, so far?
I have two on opposite ends of the spectrum: the first was Adelaide in Guys and Dolls with Creede Repertory Theater in Southern Colorado. I have never had as much fun playing a character! It was an exciting challenge to meld larger-than-life humor with genuine vulnerability, desperation...and belting.
My second was Sharnush in Quiara Alegria Hudes' The Happiest Song Plays Last, with Curious Theatre in Denver, CO. She was an Arab-American film actress with a beautiful monologue about living up to the name you are given. My father is from Iran, and from a very early age I learned that with my name, (which is not pronounced "Mary"!) I had to speak up if I wanted people to truly know me. My name gave me the power of my voice, yet because of its difficulty to pronounce for most people, it also taught me the power of patience. In the same show I also had the opportunity to portray a Puerto Rican musician. My mother is from El Salvador, and a number of songs I got to sing/play guitar for were songs that I grew up loving. Never in my life have I come so close to playing my ethnicity (what I lovingly have coined, "El Salranian") on stage! It was incredibly special.
What is a dream role you hope to play someday?
Velma Kelly in Chicago, (I miss musicals!) Any variation of Medea, Queen Titania in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, and stay with me here, any character in The Prince of Egypt musical if that ever becomes a thing. It has to. And I want in it so, so badly.
If you weren't an actor, what would you be doing?
I've always had a very special place in my heart for children. If I wasn't an actor, I probably would have become some sort of an art therapist for children who have been through trauma. Honestly, it's still a dream in the back of my mind to combine theater arts and therapy for children who need to step out of their own shoes in order to express themselves and thusly, begin to heal.
If you could eat dinner with anyone, alive or dead, who would it be and why?
My great-grandmother on my father's side, Mehri, whom I was named after. She was born in 1919, and lived life alongside some of the most powerful people in Iran. She knew Iran before the revolution, before war, before all the hatred. My father always encouraged me to sit down and ask her all my questions about what Iran was like then, what her life was like living in palaces, going to the Shah's parties, traveling internationally, living through and escaping during the revolution—but I never did. She passed away in 2011. I would have asked her what advice she would have given to her younger self, knowing what she knew in her last years. I would have asked her what the happiest moments were, the saddest, the scariest. I don't know if I'll regret anything as much as I regret losing the opportunity to hear those answers.
What super power do you most wish you had?
Teleportation for the sake of traveling the world at the blink of an eye, or visiting a lover that lives far too far away. Also invisibility to go see all of the expensive plays I can't afford.
Our thanks to Mehry Eslaminia for answering our questions this issue!
Is there an IRT artist you would like to see featured, or have a specific question for? Drop us a line! Email Maggie Barrett Schlake at firstname.lastname@example.org using the subject line: Ask the Artist.
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