Much of the buzz surrounding Seattle Repertory Theatre's controversial spring 2007 production, My Name Is Rachel Corrie, centered around a singular question: How to define its real-life title character's refusal to settle for the status quo? For the play's one and only actor, however, the answer was simple.
"She was a hero, but not for the reasons that people think," says Marya Sea Kaminski of Corrie, the 23-year-old Olympia peace activist killed by an Israeli bulldozer in 2003. "She was just trying to follow her gut and find out what was right and true."
Kaminski's nuanced performance as Corrie was her highest-profile role to date. But the 30-year-old actor, director, writer, theater teacher and co-artistic director of Washington Ensemble Theater (WET) has already established herself as one of the city's most dynamic performers–by steadfastly following her own gut since her arrival in Seattle in 2001.
After performing solo shows in her native New York and performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Kaminski enrolled at the University of Washington, where she got her master's in acting, in 2001. While at UW, a group project blossomed into the stellar WET–an avowedly egalitarian fringe company in which its 11 co-directors make all artistic decisions as a group.
Whether at WET, which has blossomed into one of the most respected local theater groups, On the Boards, where she debuted her solo show In DisDress last year, Intiman, where she played Miss Poppenghul in last fall's Moonlight and Magnolias, or the Rep, Kaminski is as comfortable standing alone center stage as she is in smaller roles–and manages to both stand out and make those around her shine. She fervently embraced the Rep's decision to hire a team of young, local talent (including WET set designer Jennifer Zeyl) for Corrie, and says the collaboration between the larger house and Seattle's fringe circles was a large part of the show's success.
"Hiring out-of-town artists, while important, doesn't always water the roots of the theater revolution that is starting to blossom in this town," she says, referring to what she calls "the tidal wave of new and provocative works" flooding the local theater scene, a movement of which she is squarely at the forefront.
So what's next for someone who's seemingly done it all? This December, Kaminski will be playing the doomed lead in blahblahblahBANG (a pistol fit in one act), WET's ballsy reworking of Ibsen's Hedda Gabler.
"Making art is about confronting something that's uncertain and having a dialogue about it," she says. "If it's not scary, or it's not hard, then I'm not stretching."