PLAYBILL ON-LINE'S BRIEF ENCOUNTER with Jodie Markell

PLAYBILL ON-LINE'S BRIEF ENCOUNTER with Jodie Markell Actress Jodie Markell, currently starring Off-Broadway in Snakebit, shares something with that work's playwright, David Marshall Grant, and director, Jace Alexander: All three are actors who are becoming increasingly well known for there work on the other side of the footlights. In Markell's case, she recently adapted and directed the short film, "Why I Live at the Post Office," which won the 1998 MovieMaker Magazine Breakthrough Award. Playbill On-Line asked the actress -- a veteran of everything from Machinal at the Public Theater to Balm in Gilead at Circle Rep to Italian American Reconciliation at Manhattan Theatre Club -- about Snakebit, in which her character must contend with being married to David Alan Basche's Jonathan, an... egotistical actor.
David Alan Basche and Jodie Markell.
David Alan Basche and Jodie Markell.

Actress Jodie Markell, currently starring Off-Broadway in Snakebit, shares something with that work's playwright, David Marshall Grant, and director, Jace Alexander: All three are actors who are becoming increasingly well known for there work on the other side of the footlights. In Markell's case, she recently adapted and directed the short film, "Why I Live at the Post Office," which won the 1998 MovieMaker Magazine Breakthrough Award. Playbill On-Line asked the actress -- a veteran of everything from Machinal at the Public Theater to Balm in Gilead at Circle Rep to Italian American Reconciliation at Manhattan Theatre Club -- about Snakebit, in which her character must contend with being married to David Alan Basche's Jonathan, an... egotistical actor.

Playbill On-Line: Have you known actors like David Alan Basche's character, Jonathan?
Jodie Markell: Yes. He really is a composite of the best and the worst in actor behavior when they're desperately seeking employment. People become monsters when they're trying to eek out a living as an actor. And there are aspects in that character that are found in us all.

PBOL: Could you have ever been accused of that sort of behavior?
JK: The thing I love about Jonathan is he actually says out loud the things you'd think but would never say. For instance, his fear of missing out on the sequel of the movie he's doing. He is ruled by a lot of his fears. All of those behaviors I've seen in others and myself.

PBOL: Speaking of things you would never say, what is your most embarrassing moment in the theatre?
JM: When I was in high school, I was Aldonza in Man of La Mancha. We were working on a raked stage and I literally rolled off it into the audience one night. I think I was being tossed about by the men and one of them got a little too frisky. Even more embarrassing, I had to climb back up onstage. Oh, wait! I've got a better one. In Frank's Wild Years, at Steppenwolf Theatre Company, I was playing the role of a junkie girlfriend. I didn't have any lines. I was wearing a wig. Underneath it was a scull cap, which was very unattractive. Anyway, I was sitting at this table where I'd nod off and my head would hit the table. In the middle of the scene, my wig flew off when my head hit the table. I kept trying to pick up my wig and put it on my head. And I didn't have any lines, but I stole the show. [Pause] We ended up cutting that scene.

PBOL: Is there any credit you couldn't wait to get off your resume?
JM: Hmm. Let me think about that. Let's come back to this. PBOL: What is your dream role?
JM: I have so many of them. I want to do some Tennessee Williams. I want to do some Ibsen. I want to do Born Yesterday. I have a lot of people telling me "You should do Born Yesterday."

PBOL: Who is your favorite person working in the theatre today?
JM: I love Vanessa Redgrave's work. I saw here in Orpheus Descending and Lady From the Sea. She transports the audience. She transforms herself from head to toe. She take herself to another stage and I'm interested in that.

PBOL: Has working in a play written by an actor inspired you to write a play of your own?
JM: I have no confidence in myself as a playwright. Whenever I've working on a play, I have so much more respect for their craft. It seems so much more difficult and so much more crafted. I don't feel I'm up to it.

PBOL: So, have you thought about that credit you couldn't wait to get off your resume?
JM: Oh, I just thought of something. But, see: here's the difference. Those kind of things never get on my resume.

--By Robert Simonson