Cast & Crew Q & A with Christy Bigelow

Christy Bigelow as Jenni in The Yellow Wallpaper. Photo Credit Owen Carey

Christy Bigelow performs as Jenni, and is thrilled to make her Coho debut with the amazing cast and crew of The Yellow Wallpaper.  (Fun fact: she and Grace’s first theater project together was for the multiple Drammy Award-winning production of 4.48 Psychosis at defunkt theatre).  Christy has performed with various Portland theater companies including:  Artists Repertory Theatre (Owen Meany’s Christmas Pageant), Classic Greek Theatre of Oregon (title role in Antigone;  Orestes), Theatre Vertigo (pool no water;  The Ruby Sunrise);  defunkt theatre (Precious Little; Three Days of Rain; Attempts On Her Life), Northwest Classical Theatre Company (Twelfth Night), Lakewood Theatre Company (Arcadia; Curate Shakespeare As You Like It; Three Musketeers; The Hollow) and The Reformers (The Revenants).  Christy was also a company member, writer, and performer with Superego Sketch Comedy, skills which have served her well as a recurring performer on IFC’s Portlandia.  She is a proud graduate of the American Musical and Dramatic Academy (NY, Studio Program).


What was your favorite part of exploring this story?

For me, it was all of the amazing people I got to collaborate with that I had never worked with before.  The only people I had done a project with previously were Grace and Bill (Tripp, set designer), so to get to be in the room with all of these immensely talented people at the top of their game was awesome.  You always want to feel like everyone in the room is better than you.  That’s how you learn, get better, and up your game.
Christy Bigelow and Grace Carter in The Yellow Wallpaper. Photo Credit Owen Carey.
Christy Bigelow and Grace Carter in The Yellow Wallpaper. Photo Credit Owen Carey.

What posed the greatest challenges?

For me, the shifting power dynamic between Charlotte and Jenny took a lot of trial and error to find the right balance.  Jenny and Charlotte were best friends and contemporaries before the play begins, and suddenly Jenny has to leave that relationship behind to enforce her brother’s rules for Charlotte’s care.  It’s a mantle that she isn’t very comfortable with.  That and her struggle to stay positive and hopeful in the face of mounting evidence that Charlotte is not, in fact getting better.  I connected with her plight right away.  I think anyone who has had to provide long-term care for someone knows how exhausting physically and emotionally that can be.  Oh, and I have a bazillion props!  Those are challenging.  I think literally everything on our packed props table is mine.  I have to check them neurotically two or three times every night before the show.
Christy Bigelow and Grace Carter in The Yellow Wallpaper. Photo Credit Owen Carey.
Christy Bigelow and Grace Carter in The Yellow Wallpaper. Photo Credit Owen Carey.

How are the story and details of this play, set in 1892, relevant today?

We are still fighting a battle for gender equality on so many levels, especially medicine and healthcare.  I recently read an article in The Atlantic entitled “How Doctors Take Women’s Pain Less Seriously”.  It is all about how female pain is frequently perceived as constructed or exaggerated, and that we are less likely to be treated as aggressively or as quickly until we “prove” that we are as sick as male patients.  Absolutely enraging.  I couldn’t help but think of Charlotte insisting she is not getting better in her yellow wallpapered room, she is in fact getting worse, and no one takes her seriously.  They dismiss her as being too fragile to know what is right for her or what she needs.  We still have a long way to go as a society on a lot of levels.

What new projects do you have in the works now?

I have a few irons in the fire, but nothing concrete, so I’m available!  Hire me!

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