Erin Anderson on playing a cellmate with all kinds of swagger in “Kittens in a Cage”

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If you’ve seen Kittens in a Cage (based on a play written by Kelleen Conway Blanchard)you’re undoubtedly a fan of Junie and Vickie’s relationship. The cellmates-turned-lovers are a pair of ’50s butch/femme blondes and Vickie is played with the perfect amount of swagger by Erin Anderson

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We spoke with Erin about the super queer and female-led show and how she liked making out with real life friend Rebecca Mozo.

AfterEllen.com: How much fun was it to shoot this?

Erin Anderson: Oh it was—I’m really not afraid to use a pun—so I will say it was criminally fun. I have no shame in that, and I will pun a lot. But we had a spectacular time and I knew Mozo—we were already friends and we worked together in the theater world and we already got along really well and when I got involved and saw how all the pieces were coming together, I was like, “Wait a minute—did I go to Heaven?” Because my family background is very much like, it sort of felt like a world I already understood with that kind of style. I grew up watching old movies and the school of Stanwyck and, like, Bette Davis and Fast-Talking Dames. That was just invading my psyche my entire life. So I get to act like Barbara Stanwyk and Jimmy Cagney with all the most hilarious people I’ve ever met? This is crazy—I’m so lucky!

 

AE: I know you came onto the project a little later so how long did you have to prepare and learn your part?

EA: Mozo had suggested me to Jill and, like I said, we worked together and had a good rapport and chemistry as performers and I met Jill and we all sort of clicked and started firing. Jill was like “OK, if you want to come and play, come on this amazingly crazy pirate ship.” And I was like, I’m absolutely on board—I mean I think from that point, within two or three weeks, was my first day on set. So it was fast, but it felt like moving into something—like I already felt like family because we all crack each other up and got along so well. And it’s just like, we’re here to play. So it was easy, and I think that’s always a good sign that you’re passing into the right kind of thing, when it just feels like a flow.

 

AE: How is it to do romantic scenes with someone that you already know? Does it make it easier or does it make it more awkward? 

EA: No, no! I think it made it great because we knew each other well and got along and I think we already had a lot of trust built in, in terms of how we are as a friends. We were like, “Alright, babe, let’s do this!” It was easy to roll with. It was a lot of fun. We had a lot of laughs. 

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AE: It seems like it was a strongly female set. Was it like that with the crew too?

EA: Yeah, it was. Jilly [director Jillian Armenante] said Mozo and I were like puppies in a basket, so playful! And that’s how it felt with everybody, and all of these women and you just felt like—you don’t always go on every set and have that sense of camaraderie with everybody. It sort of felt to me like the biggest best never ending slumber party, sleepover party that happened all day and often roll into night. We started to hang out afterwards and now it’s this little clique of women I see all the time and want to see. If we got to do this again all together it would be fantastic. But the set was very estrogen-charged. We had a dudes around too, but it was sleepover city. It was great.

 

AE: Outside of the Barbara Stanwyck vibe, what was it about Vickie that made you want to play her?

EA: In that kind of environment, everybody has to put on some sort of front, in terms of how you’re going to survive a pretty ungentle situation. The thing about Vickie is I think she comes off with having this really cocky interior. She’s not looking for trouble, but you don’t really want to cross her because she’s going to protect herself and her territory and she’s a tough broad. But then, I think what was really compelling about it was how underneath that, like everybody, somebody who’s putting on that kind of front has a vulnerability. In some way, people are wounded and it has to be some sort of protective cover to keep that pain vague, and so knowing that playing this heightened style and the kind of dialogue we’re saying and the way Vickie comes off, it’s really masking something else going on underneath. It’s really grounding it in reality and really important for all of us. That’s what’s going to make this kind of thing work. I was drawn to the complexity of playing someone like that. When there’s that solitude, it can start to crumble because you encounter a person you suddenly have a connection to—a gentle person in an ungentle place. That’s why it’s interesting. How are you going to handle that when there’s an undeniable presence coming at you? So all of those things, like the soft chewy center Vickie has a little bit, and then how she has to present herself to the world, in the world that they’re in, was really intriguing to me.

 

AE: Is this your first time playing a lesbian role?

EA: I’ve played some before in independent films and some projects. But you know, it felt like the kind of thing where everybody’s invited, everybody’s welcome. We’re all able to bring whatever parts of us were responding to the material. It was just a joy, a real story, a real love story to it. People trying to connect, like any other love story. It’s all very close to my heart, the entire experience, so I’m chomping at the bit to do it again.

 

AE: Have you been getting good feedback from fans on Twitter?

EA: I’m a fairly new convert to Twitter. I’ve done social media for a long time, but Mozo was the one, like, “Girl, you gotta get on Twitter.” Whatever Mozo says! Now hearing from people I don’t know, and them being really excited, they find it funny or they find it moving or they really connect to the relationship between Junie and Vickie, I’ve gotten some personal tweets  from people. It’s so meaningful. Because I think, at the end of the day, you care about the people involved in the story otherwise what’s the point? Having a relationship they can care about is really connecting to people, and that’s why I did it. My work here is done, you know? As an actor, you do it to connect, in some way, and people respond to stories and it’s like “Oh, I’m not all on my own out here.” People relate to some element of this. So it’s nice! I’m dipping my toes into the Twitter world and it feels like a new frontier.

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Watch Kittens in a Cage on Vimeo On Demand now.

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