058: Prepare and connect. Actor Lakeisha Coffey shares her theatre wisdom and her gratitude.

Want acting tips from one of the Triangle’s most well-known actors? Actor Lakeisha Coffey reveals her process, how to audition, and how she finds her character. (Guess what? She played Durham civil rights activist Ann Atwater twice — have you seen the movie trailer for Best of Enemies, the upcoming film with Taraji Henson? That’s Lakeisha’s part!) We discuss what it was like to take the final bow with Derrick Ivey on Manbites Dog Theater’s stage when the beloved company closed after 31 seasons. Again and again in this conversation, you’ll hear Lakeisha emphasize the power of supportive relationships, connection and gratitude in theatre-making.

Lakeisha Coffey made her first professional appearance in Durham at Manbites Dog Theatre in The Overwhelming. She’s performed in many Manbites productions since then, including the company’s farewell production of Wakey Wakey directed by Jeff Storer. Lakeisha has worked locally with theatre companies such as Forty/Am, Bartlett Theater, Justice Theatre Project, Burning Coal, Raleigh Little Theatre and Little Green Pig. She was part of the creative development Team for the inaugural Bull City Black Theatre Festival held in March 2018 in Durham, NC. Lakeisha is also a founding member of Bulldog Ensemble Theater.

Mentions: 007: Actor Thaddeus Edwards reframes Vanya…and failure…and life

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Time break-down:

[0:00] Episode intro and Lakeisha’s bio.

[1:51] How and when did Lakeisha start acting in the Triangle?

[4:35] What was little Lakeisha like?

[5:35] Lakeisha tells us about her favorite roles

[7:10] What was it like to play a role more than once?

[9:05] Lakeisha shares her thoughts about how casts come together

[12:01] How did Lakeisha approach playing the incredible Ann Atwater?

[15:39] Preparing for an audition

[17:14] Lakeisha tells us what it was like teaching an acting workshop for Bull City Black Theater Festival and shares tips for actors

[23:45] Challenges and misconceptions Lakeisha has faced

[26:18] The emotional investment when approaching a role

[29:47] After a long history with Manbites Dog Theatre, what was it like to say goodbye while doing multiple shows during their final season?

[34:52] What’s next for Lakeisha? (Spoiler alert: She’s writing a play!)

[38:53] Thanks and sign-off

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  • Appreciating the fact that you have this opportunity helps to make you more of a sponge.
  • The actors cannot take stage, the director cannot direct, there is nothing to light, to sound, or put costumes on if the writer does not put those words on that paper…honor that. Honor every word as written.
  • Acting is more than just memorizing lines. You have to have it in your body. You have to care about the story and if you’re just memorizing lines and reciting them, you’re not doing that.

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