Danielle Louise Reddick’s Press
In the Studio With Danielle Louise Reddick. Meet this busy Santa Fe actor and puppeteer
Santa Fe actor Danielle Louise Reddick is constantly on the go.
While she was performing in Ironweed Productions’ presentation of Arthur Miller’s masterpiece “The Crucible” (Oct. 26-Nov. 12) at El Museo Cultural, she was called for a three-day gig to stand in for an actress in “Tremors,” starring Kevin Bacon.
“We had to be outside, in the boonies, in the cold and wind for 12 hours a day,” explains Reddick, a member of the Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) who has appeared in a number of films and new media productions.
Born in Harlem, New York and proud to say she was born in Harlem Hospital, Reddick “fell” into acting during elementary school.
She had a bad stutter in the third grade and was put into a speech class that utilized games as a learning tool. By the fourth grade, she was cast as the lead in a school play.
“I found that when I memorized lines for a play, I didn’t stutter,” she recalls.
During her junior and senior years studying at the High School of Performing Arts in New York City, Reddick had the opportunity to work with director Anthony Abeson (whose former students include Jennifer Aniston and Ian Somerhalder from “The Vampire Diaries”). After high school she performed in off-off Broadway productions, did street theater and was part of a company that traveled to schools in the outskirts of the city to perform short theatrical shows.
In 1995, Reddick joined an international tour of the stage show STOMP, in which she played a character offering comic relief. It was during the tour that she met her husband, Giuseppe Quinn, who was the show’s merchandise manager and owned a home in the Santa Fe area.
“After touring with the show for four years, doing seven shows a week, I needed time to decompress so I came to New Mexico and stayed at Giuseppe’s place,” Reddick says. “I loved Santa Fe right away. While I was in New York, I actually had prayed for a way out. The city was an awesome place to grow up but it wasn’t as much fun for an adult needing to make a living.”
Within a few years of living in Santa Fe, Reddick had performed with Shakespeare in Santa Fe. Through Shakespeare in Santa Fe, she connected with Theater Grottesco’s founding artistic director John Flax and artistic associate Kent Kirkpatrick and became part of the company.
In 2005, Reddick and Quinn co-founded RedQuyn Zoom Productions, which creates live performances and video productions. The couple often uses puppets in their acts. Reddick had been introduced to the world of puppetry when she worked with multidisciplinary artist Janie Geiser, one of the pioneers of the renaissance of American avant-garde puppet theater, in New York prior to the STOMP tour.
“I love puppets,” says Reddick, who has made around a dozen puppets of her own. “What I bring to the big stage is focused into these little objects. I act through them. It’s enormously challenging to work with them but so magical. It’s really rewarding when it works.”
To enhance her puppet-making skills, Reddick attended a marionette-carving working in Prague, Czech Republic during the summer of 2016.
While Reddick continues to feel passionate about her work with local theater companies, she’s constantly brainstorming solo theatrical projects, many of which involve working with puppets.
“I’m writing scripts all the time,” she adds. “What interests me is understanding the world around me from a personal perspective. I’m fascinated by science. I think about cosmology. I want to understand the universe.”
The Love Song of J. Robert Oppenheimer
“Now I Am Become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds”
At the very least, Mother Road Theatre Company’s production of The Love Song of J. Robert Oppenheimer is ambitious. Written by Carson Kreitzer, the play attempts to weave together the making of the atomic bomb, Jewish identity, hubris, guilt, original sin, the legacy of Lilith, Hindu texts and T.S. Eliot. It’s a lot.
But then again, if the primary subject is Robert Oppenheimer, the father of the atomic bomb, the approach should be a complicated one. Oppenheimer led the Manhattan Project, which successfully developed the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As played by Christopher Atwood, Oppenheimer is closed, serious, seduced by the prospect of using science to understand the universe.
There is a repeated line in T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”that could serve as a sort of thesis for the play: “Do I dare / Disturb the universe?” It pops up often in the production, but whereas for Prufrock the line is emblematic of his crippling self-doubt, for Oppenheimer it’s a battle cry. Do I dare? Yes I do!
This is not to say that the creation of a nuclear device is undertaken lightly. Though, as a Jew, Oppenheimer feels especially compelled to aid in the defeat of Hitler, the physicist acknowledges the significance of this experiment in fission and destruction. This conflict is dramatized in the appearance of Lilith, the first woman. Made by God from the same dust as Adam, she’s relegated to the role of demon when she refuses to yield to the man’s authority. Eve is then made from Adam’s rib and becomes the mother of humanity. Kept out of the role of life-giver, Lilith rejoices in life-taking. She wants the bomb, just as he does.
Though there’s an obvious kinship between Oppenheimer and Lilith (Danielle Louise Reddick), he shares one with Eve as well. The pursuit of knowledge for its own sake can have deadly consequences, and each time such destruction happens, there is the hope that next time humanity will be wiser—that eventually, one big loss will be enough.
Mother Road’s production (directed by Vic Browder and Julia Thudium) isn’t so much blocked as it is choreographed. Characters, including military men, scientists and lovers, move in and out from all sides. They act behind closed metal mesh panels, against the suggested mountains of Los Alamos and the desert of the Trinity Site. Reddick as Lilith has the greatest physical challenge. She is primordial, slinking and scurrying above the action on platforms suspended by chains, dipping and lurching into the action without ever deigning to join it. Her movement is compelling and flawless.
Oppenheimer’s wife Kitty, as played by Vivian Nesbitt, is layered; calm and witty on one level and nervous and frenzied on another. Nesbitt’s vocal work is particularly strong, perhaps unsurprising in that she’s the co-producer of Art of the Song Creativity Radio (artofthesong.org). The play’s other four actors—Courtney Cunningham, Brian Haney, Mark Hisler and William Sterchi—take on multiple parts, changing costumes, inflections and accents at a surprising pace. The subject, essentially that of good and evil, is handled by simplifying the storytelling scale with a stark set and small cast.
On opening night, The Filling Station was packed. In fact, it was over-packed. Somehow there were about 12 more bodies than there were seats, and so various people involved with the production gave up their spots. The excitement in much of the audience was also evident in the cast, at times manifesting itself in botched lines and uneven energy. Yiddish accents transmuted into Irish ones while some cues were, if not missed, then ignored for a bit.
The two main players, Atwood and Reddick, do a largely wonderful job. Atwood, a recent transplant to Albuquerque, gives a solid performance. His body language is especially powerful; as he smoked a cigarette in the particular way of an early 20th-century American man, it seemed entirely possible that his mind was busy exploding atoms, disturbing the universe. On that first night, though, both he and Reddick seemed to be sussing out how best to play their very different parts in a small space. Atwood has the challenge of memorizing the majority of the script. He serves as the anchor and sometimes seemed pulled down by the weight. Reddick, meanwhile, fought to strike a balance that conveys Lilith as being beyond life without rendering the performance histrionic.
But that was opening night. There is a prodigious amount of power and talent behind The Love Song of J. Robert Oppenheimer. Though the ending isn’t surprising, the journey there certainly is.”
‘Love Song’ exciting, thought-provoking
For the Albuquerque Journal
Among the spirits that haunt the mountains and mesas of northern New Mexico, one stands alone. J. Robert Oppenheimer, “The Father of the Atomic Bomb,” led the team of scientists who developed the bomb at Los Alamos during the Second World War.
To this day there is a cloud — a mushroom cloud — over his head, and his loyalty was questioned during the McCarthy era. Oppenheimer’s ghost appeared locally on stage in Dale Dunn’s “Body Burden” two years ago, and now Mother Road Theatre Company presents an exciting production of “The Love Song of J. Robert Oppenheimer.”
Carson Kreitzer’s 2003 play considers Oppenheimer from many angles, exploring his life and his changing attitudes to the nuclear device that brought an end to WWII. The directing team of Vic Browder and Julia Thudium expand the possibilities of the Filling Station’s small acting space with bold concepts of lighting (Andrew Stephens, David Sinkus and Browder), sound (Laura Brunette) and scenic design (Peter Crawford and Browder). Two stout columns support metallic frames leading to triangular platforms buttressed by chains.
A scrim fence opens to show the silhouette of the mountains around Los Alamos and, closed, is backlighted to show characters from the past. Spotlights are mounted beneath the platforms, and lighting shifts help to indicate changes of time and place. And the acting is excellent. Equity actor Christopher Atwood, newly arrived from Los Angeles, captures the essence of Oppie — from his defensiveness about his German-Jewish background and his rage at Hitler’s atrocities to his tenderness toward his troubled mistress (nicely delineated by Courtney Cunningham) and his love for his wife (brashly portrayed by Vivian Nesbitt).
Atwood’s Oppenheimer feels exhilaration for the challenges of the Manhattan Project, but when theoretical physics gives birth to a ferocious weapon, he is troubled. Playwright Kreitzer brilliantly adds the character Lilith, in Jewish myth the first woman who left Eden when she demanded equality with Adam and would not obey his orders. Seen only by Oppenheimer, Lilith serves as his conscience and confidant. Clad in black and red, her hair in snake-like dreadlocks, Danielle Louise Reddick is a powerful Lilith. Lithe and sensual, cajoling and thunderous, she hisses her sibilants and torments Oppenheimer. Finally, three fine actors — Mark Hisler, Brian Haney and William Sterchi — play multiple supporting roles.
“The Love Song of J. Robert Oppenheimer” is a challenging and thought- provoking play for actors and audience. T.S. Eliot (from whom the title is appropriated) and John Donne are quoted, as is the Bhagavad-Gita. These Hindu scriptures provide Oppenheimer’s prophetic response to the first atomic blast: “Now I am become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds.”