We had the tremendous opportunity to interview Heather Deerfield, the talented actress who plays Agnes in When We Were Young and Unafraid, and WOW! We’re sure that you’ll agree that her insight into the character really lends an entirely new lens to this production! You might even want to see it again!
Heather is making her Patio Playhouse debut in this production. She was last seen playing the role of Rosie in Mamma Mia! at Coronado Playhouse. Some of her other roles include Grandma Rosie in the OB Playhouse production of The Wedding Singer, Latrelle in Sordid Lives at Coronado Playhouse, Violet in 9 to 5 The Musical at Onstage Playhouse, and multiple roles in the Aubrey Award winning ensemble of It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play at Pickwick Players. When not performing, Heather can be found working as the Life Enrichment Director at Fredericka Manor Retirement Community. We are so thrilled that Heather chose to come out of pandemic retirement with us in this exceptional performance.
We asked Heather a few questions about the show:
What drew you to this particular production?
A friend told me about the auditions. I read the script and immediately knew that I wanted to be a part of this show. The subject matter is so important, and timely, and the way it is presented through Sarah Treem’s characters truly makes you feel as though you are there.
Tell us a little bit about your character. Who is she and how will audiences relate to her?
Agnes is a no nonsense, down to earth woman, who has seen and been through a great deal, but is extremely private. She has been helping women leave abusive relationships for many years, and understands the toll it takes on the victims, and their families. I think audiences may have mixed feelings about Agnes. I think they will applaud her efforts to help women, especially at a time when safe houses were almost non-existent; but I also think patrons may take umbrage with her sometimes tactless and borderline aggressive methods in dealing with people.
Which on-stage character interaction was most relatable to you? Why?
Agnes’s relationship with her daughter Penny is so much fun. We have an opportunity to explore all the facets of a mother/teen daughter connection—the playful joking, the teen angst, the knock down-drag out fights and the deep love and understanding they have for each other.
Share a little bit about the era that the show is set in. How do you feel that it informs the story? Does it shape your character’s choices or actions, and if so, how?
I’m not even sure where to begin because the era is so imperative. 1972 serves as the backdrop to a show that is dealing with so many huge issues—women’s rights, racism, abortion, LGBT rights and domestic violence. It was no mistake that Treem chose 1972. It was the year before the Supreme Court ruled on Roe vs. Wade, and the year that the Equal Rights Amendment was passed. It was an era when so many people were speaking out. The characters in this play are a testament to those who stood up for what they believed in—Agnes’s choice to run a safe house for abused women, Hannah’s choice to seek out a women’s only community, and Mary Anne exercising her right to choose.
What are you most hoping that the audience takes away from this production?
I hope that the audience realizes how timely this piece is, and how we are still struggling with many of the issues addressed in this play. I hope that our production continues to rattle around in their thoughts for days and weeks to come.
Is there anything else you’d like to share that hasn’t been asked above?
One of the comments that has come up in conversations with audience members, is that the show, particularly Act I, feels so episodic. It is important to note that Sarah Treem is best known as a television writer, and that has impacted her play writing.
Thank you so much for your insight, Heather! To learn more — straight from the perspective of our daring lead, as well as from other cast and crew members! — join us this Sunday at our post-show talkback immediately following the Oct. 24 matinee. Audiences in attendance will be invited to ask a variety of open questions for the 30-minute event, which will be attended by all cast members and select members of the production team. Tickets available now! We look forward to seeing you in the audience of When We Were Young and Unafraid!