Actress Erika Stone was perplexed by the vintage cover of a 1950s Wonder Woman comic book depicting the Amazonian superhero held in the arms of a man in uniform. The caption above her read: “Will she stay with him or save the world?” Stone brought the image to the second rehearsal for Theater Tallahassee’s production of “A Streetcar Named Desire” to fulfill an assignment given by the director, Matthew Watson.
“I saw it and thought, this is Wonder Woman…can you not wait for me while I save the world and then we’ll have dinner later?” quips Stone. “It’s that juxtaposition of a woman of power, strength, and independence being carried by a guy, and she can either stay with him or save the world but she can’t do both.” The cast was asked to bring in images that depicted themes in the, at times, dark and dramatic play, such as reality, fantasy, and gender roles, as the play deals with the expectations and treatment of women versus men in the late 1940s.
Stone says the exercise not only brought the group closer together but also allowed her to flesh out the shape of her character, another strong woman within challenging circumstances, leading lady Blanche DuBois.
“I’m more convinced the play is about a woman out of time who is simply misunderstood,” expounds Stone on Blanche and ‘Streetcar.’ “It’s that whole idea of being a couple generations off of where you should be — if Blanche had grown up in this time I have no doubt she would be a highly successful person. Desire also plays a part in it and people’s different ideas about love.” While playing Blanche has been one of her bucket- list roles, acting is not the only path Stone has taken in theater. Growing up in New York City, her stage debut in elementary school was first as a magic snowman, then Dorothy in the “Wizard of Oz.” Stone went on to study art and began painting sets. She quickly realized that she wanted to stay on the stage, however, instead of behind the scenes, and attended NYU to earn a degree in educational theater. Other actors have inspired Stone along the way as she has had the opportunity to see and participate in many productions.
“When I have the chance to work with people who are really talented it’s exciting and I think you can see that,” says Stone. “Your scenes just crackle and pop because you have two people being actively creative together.”
The New York State Theatre
Institute’s resident company was her first contract outside of college, allowing her to act and teach simultaneously. When she left theater company to pursue movies and television, Stone participated in the making of indie and student films in New York before moving to Los Angeles where she guest starred in various soap operas and films. Out of her many roles, her favorite experience was one of her most challenging ones as Rosie in “Slow Dance on the Killing Ground.”
“It’s a dramatic threeperson play and I was playing a character who was my polar opposite,” explains Stone. “It gave me a freedom I don’t think you have in roles that are much like you, so it really allowed me to create and physicalize a character. I got to go to depths that I’m not always asked to go as well, as the character dealt with self-image and low self-esteem.” Stone has had similar feelings in her exploration of Blanche in “A Streetcar Named Desire,” as the character struggles with getting older and coming to terms with her worth in the world.
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