Five Burning Questions with Saint Joan Star Condola Rashad
Condola Rashad had a breakout moment and won a Theatre World Award for MTC's 2009 production of Lynn Nottage's Pulitzer Prize-winning play Ruined. Since then, she's received three Tony Award nominations for the plays Stick Fly, The Trip to Bountiful, and A Doll's House, Part 2 and starred as Juliet in the last Broadway revival of Romeo and Juliet. Now, Condola returns to MTC headlining the revival of George Bernard Shaw's Saint Joan. BroadwayBox caught up with the leading lady to talk about leading Saint Joan as a team project, learning from her Tony-winning mother (Phylicia Rashad), and finding the stories she wants to tell on stage.
1. How does Saint Joan feel different and timely in today’s political atmosphere?
The thing about Saint Joan, especially as I got into it more and more, is that I realized no matter what period of time this play is done in, it will always be relevant. There’s literally not a time where it will not be relevant.
2. What spoke to you about this project? What got you on board?
Any story of a human being—and yes, a woman—that is so connected to their self and so connected to what their purpose is, and does not need the permission of any institution or any other person to be connected to that self, is a story I want to tell.
3. What’s a misconception about being a marquee-name leading lady on Broadway?
I think that for me, it just so happens that the way this play is configured Joan is Joan and it’s called Saint Joan. But I think for my mentality (as I’ve always been in the theatre), I’m a team leader. I don’t think of it as carrying it. I don’t need to carry these other actors—these other actors are brilliant! So, it’s really about the teamwork of it, and if that works everything will fall into place. I don’t go about this differently than if I were an extra. You go about your work the way you go about your work.
4. What have you learned from working with former co-stars Laurie Metcalf and Cicely Tyson in their Tony-winning roles?
I learned so much from Ms. Tyson. I love her—I don’t know what else to say other than I really love her. To this day, working with her was one of the highlights of my career. Working with Laurie was such a learning experience. I think that what I’ve always learned (especially from my mother, who was the first leading lady I ever really learned from) is that it’s about being graceful and gracious. If you don’t hold yourself with a level of grace and treat your teammates and the people around you with the grace you have received, then there’s another energy that takes on with the production, and that’s not necessary.
5. Tell me about a movie that was your absolute jam growing up. Was there someone in a movie that gave a performance that made you think who is that and what are they doing?
Really? There’s a lot! I have always loved Denzel Washington. I’ve always been inspired watching the work I’ve seen him do. We had to watch Glory in school, and from a young age, he’s the one I remember feeling like he pierced me early on.
Dont' miss Condola Rashad as Joan of Arc in 'Saint Joan' at Samuel J. Friedman Theatre through June 10.