You’ve heard about those actors who are driven to perfect their craft. They take all of the classes, do the research and work so very hard to create characters that are so real you forget that they are your friend and you escape the world of your everyday life and melt into that of the play. One such actress is Kendra Hesketh and I have had the great pleasure of working with her on two plays this spring and summer.
In Five Women Wearing The Same Dress by Alan Ball, Kendra worked with director Angela Lavender to create a believable unlikely Southern Belle - a lesbian who attends her brother’s over the top wedding but is not allowed to bring her partner. With only one weekend in between shows, Kendra launched into rehearsals for the BC premiere of Daniel MacIvor’s BINGO! and another challenging role. This time she would rock out as Bitsy, a sweet, shy, middle aged woman who attends her high school reunion and encounters real love for the first time. One of my favorite stage moments of my directing career will be the moment when Kendra’s character takes a chance on a guy she is crushing on, played by the equally phenomenal Troy Berg, under a disco ball, in the last moments of the play.
Kendra Hesketh was unforgettable in both shows - so let’s find out a little more about this dramatic dynamo. The facts are that Kendra has lived in Kelowna for about ten years and she has always wanted to be in the limelight.
“My earliest acting memory is being Mary in the school Christmas play. I can't remember a time that I didn't want to be an actor. When people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always said, "A movie star!"
"Of course I don't necessarily need (or want!) to be famous, but not having performance as a part of my life just isn't an option. For me, acting is like crack. I have to do it. It's an obsession. I dream about it,” says Kendra.
While her most memorable performances seem to be when things go wrong - lines missed - or when her taps pried off of her shoes in Alice in Wonderland and she fell in front of an audience of enamored children, her favorite roles are much more academic.
“My favourite role that I've ever done was written by BC Playwright Ian Kluge, a one-woman play called Medea. The poetry of the language is exquisite. It's by far the hardest role I've ever done - an hour onstage by yourself is crazy scary. It was remarkably rewarding too!"
As for her dream roles they are Shakespearian - Volumnia from Coriolanus and other amazing Shakespearean women, like Ophelia and Lady M. Maybe that is because she runs her own Shakespearian touring company called Bard on The Run and an online version of the Bard called The Air Tin Players. You will also see her in an upcoming episode of ”Untold Stories of the E.R” in November.
Kendra is not positive what the future holds for theatre in Kelowna, but she says she “knows that it will be exciting, and I will enjoy watching and performing in a lot of interesting plays.” And I know we will enjoy watching Kendra immerse herself in her next great character.
For more about Kendra Hesketh’s work and upcoming gigs check out her Facebook Page.