For the 26th National Conference in Washington DC, TCG is highlighting the current recipients of the Fox Foundation Resident Actor Fellowships and the Leadership U[niversity] One-on-One Program, the Rising Leaders of Color, and the four finalists for the Alan Schneider Director Award. These programs are unique to the field, and provide critical support and mentorship for the future leaders of our art form. In honor of our longstanding commitment to professional development across the field, we are excited to continue to host the Spotlight On Series throughout the spring leading up to the conference.
TCG: When was the moment that you decided to become a professional theatre actor?
Heather Litteer: I have always been a performer working on one project or another and very involved in New York City’s Downtown performance scene for the most part.
My first play was Free to Be You and Me in the second grade. So I suppose I got the bug there. Playing dress up with my mother’s clothes and transforming myself happened constantly. I love to tell stories and take people on journeys; it feeds my soul. When I moved to NYC, I joined a small theater company called Friends Theatre and we did our first show at the Bruno Walter in Lincoln Center. I remember sitting next to the fountain there, and studying. That was my beginning here in NYC.
My heart and mind started to be introduced to the brave and experimental Downtown scene where I was taken in, with open arms, and I had found my home. We made work and we made things happen and we didn't even have to have a proper theater, we just did it! It is freeing and alive and with no boundaries. I was in love with all my friends and family. In the early 2000's, I joined Big Art Group and toured internationally. That really took things to another level for me as an experimental actress and theater professional. Caden Manson and I worked so wonderfully together. He showed me even more in depth and a lot of the technical side of the Big Art Group aesthetic. Now that I have written and performed in my first solo show, Lemonade, recently premiered at La MaMa, I am so ready for my next project. This is the result of my Fox Fellowship! So it’s back to writing and coming up with new concepts and working on future projects. The Fox Fellowship and La MaMa have given me the jumpstart towards so many opportunities. All it takes is one “Yes!”
TCG: What is one conversation you would like to have with other actors to address an obstacle facing the acting profession? What would you say to other actors about this issue?
HL: In the acting profession there are no guarantees. I suppose for me it’s about reinventing oneself. I would say: Be ready for that next project. Go out and make you own work.
Try writing and getting together with your friends and community to make things happen, don't wait for things to come to you. Push the envelope, and do it with love and a lot of heart.
TCG: What was a moment in your career as an actor when you felt connected to a larger community, either locally, regionally, nationally or internationally?
HL: I have always felt connected to the Downtown scene; we are one big family. I do benefit and outreach events, as much as I can, with The HOWL Arts Organization and many other LGBTQ events. I even got to teach at The Lower Eastside Girls Club. The children are where it’s at! If I can be a part of inspiring one person, or be able to help another person, to me, that is the most rewarding experience. Part of being an artist is about giving back and remembering the bigger picture. It takes a team and I get so much out of process and of learning from my peers. Now that I am a La MaMa Resident Artist I have met so many different artists from all over the world and heard what is relevant in their communities and how to take the human condition to inspire, create, and teach. La MaMa is a huge part of not only the local community but also the international. It brings in artist from all over the world and that I have met. It was such a treasured experience to be at the playwriting symposium last summer at La MaMa in Umbria and to meet other artists and discover parts of myself that I didn't even know were there. It was a reflective period and enriching to be able to share with other artists from around the country and the globe.
I just closed my first run of Lemonade; my first self produced one-woman show presented by La MaMa and Directed by Elena Heyman. It deals with a very personal journey, touching on my Southern Roots and my relationship to my “Steel Magnolia” of a mother. She passed away during the writing of my show, and this is a tribute to her as well.
It also deals with how women are treated in the film industry, the misogyny, and about empowering women mixed with personal pitfalls and heartache. This being my first solo show, I gave every lil’ morsel of my heart and soul into it. I had an amazing team of people working with me to make this a beautiful reality and I am so proud of the work and with the outpouring of support from my community. La MaMa, and TCG have been right by my side. I am now a theater maker and this was made possible with the Fox Fellowship. Lemonade started out as a poem, and has just taken flight into a full-scale show, and I feel like I have arrived and I am ready to take Lemonade and make it even sweeter. I will be working on deepening the story as well as working on my new piece Mademoiselle X. You can do it if you set your mind to it but I couldn't have done any of this without my community, my NYC, my Lower East Side, my family. I am so grateful.
"When Life hands you Lemons you make Lemonade"
Heather Litteer is actress and performance artist. She is a member of Big Art Group touring internationally and in the states. Hebbel Theater, (Berlin,Germany), Festival d’Autome a’ Paris (Paris, France), Wiener Festwochen (Vienna, Austria), REDCAT (Los Angeles, CA), and Yerba Buena Arts Center (San Francisco,CA) Ms. Litteer has also worked with film directors Darren Aronofsky,Jane Campion and Mary Harron. She is a member of the legendary Jackie Factory. She is a recipient of the 2014 Fox Fellowship with TCG and just premiered her Solo show Lemonade at La MaMa ETC.
TOP: Photo by Theo Cote
HEADSHOT: Photo by Ned Stresen - Reuter