Fans of the TV show Parks and Recreation will recognize Tacoma-born actress Pamela Reed from her recurring role as Leslie Knope’s mother. After countless roles on television and in local theater, Reed is now playing Martha in Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, made famous by Elizabeth Taylor. See her rise to the challenge in the Seattle Rep’s production. 4/18–5/18. seattlerep.org
LOCATION: Caffè Zingaro on Queen Anne, a cloudy morning in February
REED’S ORDER: Nonfat, light-on-the-chocolate mocha latte
NG: You’ve been cast as Martha. Is this a dream role?
PR: Yes. When I was at the University of Washington, I read this play and I was like, “Oh my God, some day, some day.”
NG: Could you have played Martha earlier in your career?
PR: Maybe. Not much earlier. It requires some life experience to play this part.
NG: Describe Martha.
PR: I see a tortured soul who is also very funny. Her wit, intelligence and relentless drive were nurtured in a field of neglect, and out of that emerges a full-bloomed woman who is now watered with alcohol.
NG: What do you value most in another actor?
PR: Their willingness to be present in the moment. To give over and not come with some preconceived idea about how things should go. We have this gorgeous invitation to find out what this production of this play is all about.
NG: How do you feel on opening night?
PR: Usually it’s a feeling of “Finally! Let’s get this puppy up.” It’s sort of like when my husband and I knew we wanted to get married, but he didn’t ask me because he wanted to have the perfect place to ask me, and I was like, “Oh for God’s sake, come on!”
NG: What gives you joy?
PR: I’ve made my living as an actor for 38 years and I love it to the quick. I love being on sets, the smell of the lights, the sound of the house, the back stage, the dressing rooms...I am at home most in the theater.
NG: As an actor, when do you know when you hit the groove?
PR: There are those performances where you’re a vessel, a conduit. It moves through you and it’s highly kinetic, and it happens, if you’re lucky, a few times in a run.
NG: As an audience member, what turns you on?
PR: I love getting lost in the play and getting found at the same time.
Nancy Guppy showcases Seattle artists on her show, Art Zone (seattlechannel.org/artzone).