phone mail2 facebook twitter play whatsapp
An interview with Judy Rosenblatt
Image Credit: Ron Lasso

An interview with Judy Rosenblatt

28 January 2018 Katie Da Cunha Lewin

The American actress is currently starring as Peggy Guggenheim in Woman Before A Glass at the Jermyn Street Theatre, London

Lanie Robertson’s enjoyable one-woman show about the great art collector kicked of the Scandal season at the Jermyn Street Theatre. Rebelling against her wealthy NY upbringing and becoming the énfant térrible of the modern art scene, Peggy Guggenheim lived a life almost too amazing to be believed. London Calling talked to Judy Rosenblatt about her portrayal of a woman who was clearly ahead of her time.
 
London Calling: Hi Judy, thanks so much for talking to London Calling. Would you tell us about the play Woman Before A Glass?
 
Judy Rosenblatt: The play takes place in Venice at Peggy Guggenheim’s palazzo and in a gondola on the Grand Canal. It spans the years from 1963 – 1968 when Peggy is in her sixties. In each act Peggy is faced with a significant episode in her life; the play is about the price you pay for the choices you make.
 
LC: You played her before in Peggy Guggenheim Stripped Bare By her Bachelors – a nod to the famous painting by Marcel Duchamp. I wondered how the character developed since you first played her? Are you still making discoveries about her?
 
JR: Working on Lanie Robertson’s play has involved a lot more research. The previous play was a Benefit Performance and was maybe four shows as opposed to several weeks of performance. During the three weeks of performances in 2011, I discovered other things about Peggy on a sensory level. But this time, I had a chance to really investigate the play and Peggy herself. The director Austin Pendleton and I committed to working on this together several months before he was actually available so I used that time to do extensive research and work on the text.


Judy Rosenblatt in Woman Before A Glass (c) Robert Workman

LC: Have you always been a fan of contemporary art?

JR: Not what is contemporary now so much, but Peggy’s contemporaries? Definitely. I just love the Abstract expressionists – particularly Kandinsky, Pollack and Rothko.
 
LC: You’ve performed in the theatre in large productions with big ensembles; how is it performing in a single woman show?

JR: I was asked that last week by people at the Invited Dress Rehearsals in New York. It doesn’t feel like a one-woman play to me - I’m in constant communication with the audience. I need specific things from them in the same way that I would if I were working with other actors. I like the format of a one person play a lot; it’s a big challenge and that’s attractive to me.
 
LC: You’ve worked with actor and director Austin Pendleton in other productions and for a few years on this production – what draws you to his directing style?
 
JR: It’s always, always a joy to work with Austin. My first acting teacher Joseph Balfiore directed like Austin. Both men made me feel that they trusted me completely and that feels a lot like unconditional love. We all yearn for unconditional love because it feels safe and gives us permission to grow. Their directing style makes me feel as if I’m seen, really seen for who I am and so with two little words Austin can clarify and simplify my personal understanding of the character and her objectives.
 
LC: What first interested you in acting?

JR: Playing make-believe with my little sister Karen. We set the piano bench as a stage and then our lime green drapes became the curtain.
 
LC: You studied in London at the Central School of Speech and Drama. How did you find living in London?

JR: Theatre students begin their training much earlier in London than in NY. I was about seven years older than most of the other students and I remember feeling isolated. I only had Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment and a large poster of Rudolf Nureyev, who I felt was my true love, to look after me. Then, in the second half of the year, a student at Central called Sally Somerville moved in with me and I found a boyfriend, who was not Rudolf Nureyev. That time was very happy for me. I lost touch with her, but Sally has become a well-known potter and I’d love to get back in contact.
 
LC: What are some of your favourite things to do in London/what are you looking forward to?

JR: I’m involved with a group of women in New York who research once-prominent actresses who are disappearing into the obscurity of history. I’m currently researching the Yiddish Actress, Bertha Kalich, and I’ve connected with Clive Bettington who leads tours of the Jewish East End and the Yiddish Theatre. He’s promised to introduce me to Sadie Skobb, a star of the Yiddish Stage in its hay-day. Other than that, I’m looking forward to walking through all those historic and scenic spots in London and taking some pictures of your beautiful and fascinating city. When I was in London last year with the League of Professional Theatre Women, I saw so much theatre. I’m intending to sneak in a matinee on my Sundays off – unless I need to snuggle into my pyjamas and sleep! And when the show is over, I think I might go over to Venice and finally see Peggy’s palazzo. Last year, I met Richard Wilson and Mark Wheeler who know Judith Mackrell, one of Peggy’s biographers, and I really hope to meet her while I’m in London. Honestly, this whole experience is such an adventure and I’m very grateful to Tom Littler and the Jermyn Street Theatre for making it happen.
 
Woman Before A Glass is at the Jermyn Street Theatre till 3 February
 

Tell us what you think

You may also like

Theatre on the Tea Lawn at Lauderdale House

Theatre on the Tea Lawn at Lauderdale House

The picturesque Tea Lawn outside Highgate’s historic Lauderdale House is brought to life with music, theatre and live events this summer!

I’m an intersectional feminist unicorn!

I’m an intersectional feminist unicorn!

When a dramaturg from the other side of the world urges you to go see a show by a fellow Kiwi who is “at the forefront…

An interview with circus visionary Yaron Lifschitz

An interview with circus visionary Yaron Lifschitz

Since 2004, Circa has been at the frontier of new and progressive circus, creating powerful works of art that challenge, thrill and delight. Known as…

Top 5: Star Gazing in the West End

Top 5: Star Gazing in the West End

One of the really exciting things about living in London (well in our theatre crazy minds anyway) is that some seriously big names of film…

Summer Shows at Churchill Theatre

Summer Shows at Churchill Theatre

Make the most of the Summer with these two unmissable London musicals! With exclusive London dates for both productions, and an extraordinary offer

Hidden gems at the Camden Fringe Festival

Hidden gems at the Camden Fringe Festival

This year’s Camden Fringe Festival has a jam-packed programme of new work, but with everything from chat shows to experimental sound pieces, it can be hard...

Sounds and Sorcery

Sounds and Sorcery

The Vaults are transformed! Gone is the grotty central tunnel with its damp and humid caves branching off. Through a newly created side entrance you…

The Future of Theatre

The Future of Theatre

The New Directors Festival sees three emerging directors take over the tiny-but-mighty Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond. A great opportunity for them – and maybe an…

Win a £100 Gift Voucher for the National Theatre!

National Theatre - Win a £100 Gift Voucher for the National Theatre!

We're offering one lucky London Calling reader the chance to win a £100 Gift Voucher for the National Theatre!

Magically speaking…

Magically speaking…

Inspired by the classic 1940 Disney masterpiece, the Vaults, London’s home for immersive theatre and alternative arts, is creating a unique multi-sensory experience to celebrate an…

Most popular

Win 2 Tickets to an Immersive Disney Fantasia Experience!

The Vaults - Win 2 Tickets to an Immersive Disney Fantasia Experience!

This summer, the exciting underground world of The Vaults presents Sounds and Sorcery celebrating Disney Fantasia.
Win a £100 Gift Voucher for the National Theatre!

National Theatre - Win a £100 Gift Voucher for the National Theatre!

Be in with a chance of winning our exclusive National Theatre voucher, which you can exchange for tickets or theatre tours!
Win a Joan Crawford themed evening with cocktails, manicures & millinery!

BFI - Win a Joan Crawford themed evening with cocktails, manicures & millinery!

"I never go outside unless I look like Joan Crawford the movie star. If you want the girl next door, go next door"
Exclusive discount on Titanic The Musical and Evita tickets

Churchill Theatre - Exclusive discount on Titanic The Musical and Evita tickets

Make the most of the Summer with these two unmissable London musicals! With exclusive London dates for both productions
10% off entry to London’s first ever immersive Wild West cocktail bar!

Moonshine Saloon - 10% off entry to London’s first ever immersive Wild West cocktail bar!

Saddle on over to the Wild West of London on the promise of making a fortune in the seedy and illicit world of moonshining. 
Magically speaking…

Magically speaking…

We talked to designer Kitty Callister ahead of the Vaults exciting new immersive “Disney Fantasia” experience.
The Best of Food in July

The Best of Food in July

Where will we be eating this month?
Spotlight on: Gay’s the Word

Spotlight on: Gay’s the Word

In honour of Pride today we are giving center stage to the UK's only remaining LGBTQ+ bookshop.
Top 5 World Cup Screenings in London

Top 5 World Cup Screenings in London

Football fever is catching on…
Top 5 Best Wimbledon Pop-Ups

Top 5 Best Wimbledon Pop-Ups

Game, Set and Match! Tennis-fever returns once again to the UK with the Wimbledon Tennis Championships from 2 July until 15 July 2018.

Your inbox deserves a little culture!!