Interview: Daja M. Rice, "Equus"
Daja M. Rice is a first-year MFA Acting student from Spring Valley, NY. She is portraying the role of Heather Salomon in “Equus.”
Who is Hesther Saloman to you?
Hesther Saloman, to me, is a symbol of balance, compassion, and reality.
What are your favorite things about Hesther? What are you least favorite things about her?
My favorite thing about Hesther, and also what attracted me to her character, is her compassion for Alan in a time when she could have thrown him away. She is in a position to lock him up and throw away the key (so to speak), but she chooses to advocate and fight for him so that he can have another opportunity to use his peculiar qualities to thrive in a society that he was once isolated from.
My least favorite thing about Hesther is that she is so laser-focused on “restoring” Alan, that she doesn’t realize that she is sacrificing her friend (Martin) in exchange for Alan’s restoration. Even when he tries to confide in her about his experience, she encourages him to tuck his candid thoughts and feelings away instead of helping him work through them.
What attracts you to a character like Hesther? Are you anything like Hesther?
I was attracted to Hesther’s compassion for Alan, because I intentionally challenge myself to show people compassion in place of judgement. Like Hesther, I have a standard idea of normality because of my background, personal beliefs, and experiences. Playing Hesther has caused me to think about how I present that to others.
How do you approach a character like Hesther?
Hesther’s super-objective in this play is to restore Alan back to normal. She chooses to do this by watching over and regulating Martin throughout this restoration process with encouragement and even a little tough love when absolutely necessary. To play the role of Hesther, I had to first understand what she wanted and how she was pursuing it. Throughout the production process, I have been in constant discovery of who she is as an individual, who she and Martin are to one another, what her motives are for doing what she does, and how all of this impacts her pursuit of her objective.
If you could, then how can you briefly describe Equus in just a few words?
Equus is striking and thought provoking. It makes us re-evaluate our sense of normality and how we project it onto others.
This is your first show with UGA Theatre. What has this experience been like for you?
This has been a journey of discovery, and it’s been a rewarding experience to discover and tell this story with others who are committed to presenting the best of what we find, as individuals and a collective, to our future audiences.
Why do you think this play is important to today? What makes it relevant?
This play is important because it will provoke people to identify what they believe to be normal and then assess how they present that to the world around them, especially younger generations.
Equus reopens Wednesday, Nov. 7 @ 8PM. Tickets can be purchased at ugatheatre.com/equus