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Who are you, and where might audiences have seen you before?
My name is Cindy Pastorius. I play Mrs. Winsley and Nurse in Stop Kiss. Audiences may have seen me most recently as Mother in Post Production’s True West. Previous theatre performances include Frances in Jenny’s House of Joy, chorus in Les Miserables, Greek Chorus in God of Ecstasy, and Stranger/Mistress in Dead Man’s Cell Phone
What can you tell us about your characters? How do they fit into the story and themes of Stop Kiss? What kind of people are they?
Mrs Winsley is more complex than I first thought. She seems to be a woman haunted by her past (she’s always been a fitful sleeper). But she came to NYC as a young woman from a small town seeking something. She’s also haunted by her husband’s infidelity, and haunted by the violent act she witnesses. She wants desperately to be accepted as a NY bourgeoisie but she’s still not 100% sure if this is who she really is. This fits the theme of searching for self: the idea of running to, rather than away, from who you are; the idea of facing truths that others see, long before you can face them yourself; the idea of accepting who & where you are or stopping and reevaluating your direction to live your authentic self. It’s about self acceptance and self love as much as it is about accepting and loving others.
The nurse is simply that: a helper, a confidante, a non-judgemental person who helps those in her care as well as their loved ones. She says little but invites others to have their say. She is a small, comforting rock in the middle of a wild storm.
As an actor, how do you approach bringing each of these characters to life, giving them distinct voices and personalities and identities?
Trying to give minor characters life is difficult. You don’t get the same amount of information as you often do with leads. I try, usually with the help of really great directors, to create their life before the play. If you don’t give them an entire past -- with feelings, emotions, and memories -- then it’s just you standing on the stage saying lines. This time, playing two characters who are very different, is a challenge. I’ve had to decide how to make the audience believe they are two very different people. Obviously voice and mannerisms come into play.
Love, in its various forms, is clearly one of the themes of Stop Kiss. What do you think the play tells us about love overall and also, specifically, through your two characters?
Love is complicated. When you find it, hold on to it for all it’s worth and tell the people in your life that you love them. Through my characters we see love of humankind -- caring for others despite them being perfect strangers is a part of each of my characters. One wonders if they find their connections this way rather than in their own homes.
What would you say to someone who is on the fence about seeing Stop Kiss? Why should they see this play?
I would tell people to grab someone they love, agree to hold hands for the entire show, and come and be reminded why it isn’t always easy to put into words the reasons why we love someone. We just wouldn’t be complete without them!
Photograph by The Headshot Company