In preparation for Rep Stage's upcoming reading of NOMS DE GUERRE as part of their commemoration of the passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, I connected with our company about their careers in the theatre and the relevant themes of the play. Click here to learn more about the reading and please enjoy this wonderful interview with cast member Nora Achrati.
JACQUELINE LAWTON: To begin, why did you decide to get into theater? Was there someone or a particular show that inspired you?
NORA ACHRATI: I’ve loved acting since I was a kid – my parents enrolled me in summer camps, and I loved the ones that emphasized drama the most. I’d hang out with friends and put on different accents, and playing dress-up was probably my favorite thing ever. But I didn’t go in for it professionally until I was in my late 20s – I was working a job I didn’t like and needed to make a change. One of my best friends from college was a working actress, and I’d enjoyed seeing her work and getting to peek in on the process of theatre-making, so I enrolled in classes (at her suggestion) and things took off from there. Now I act, I do voice work, I teach, and I love it.
JL: NOMS DE GUERRE is a socio-political drama that addresses the U.S. military policy and the damaging impact of PTSD on veterans and their family. Why do you feel this play is relevant to today’s audiences?
NA: Today’s audiences are made up of generations who’ve had to deal with PTSD in its different incarnations – shell-shocked WWII and Korea vets, people who grew up with loved ones who survived Vietnam, parents and friends and sons and daughters who’ve served in the Gulf Wars and Afghanistan. There isn’t a generation alive that hasn’t felt its effects.
JL: NOMS DE GUERRE also addresses women’s rights and recent restrictions places on health care for women. It’s been 50 years since the Women’s Liberation Movement swept the nation, where do you feel we are in terms of gender relations in the U.S.?
NA: Oh Lord. I love this country, but when I see and hear the way reproductive choice is talked about in some very loud, very prominent circles, I want to bite something. But it’s deeper than that – there seems to be this fundamental chasm between the genders (writ large) that keeps getting reinforced by every element of popular culture. I’ve been reading a lot lately about Gamergate, and it’s just putrid. I don’t consider myself a “gamer,” but I feel viscerally offended – enraged – by the way these women have been attacked – there’s so much ferocity, so much toxic anger coming out that it makes me afraid. And angry back.
I really appreciate theater and art (and science) that aims to deconstruct the very idea of this chasm – I saw The “T” Party at Forum two years ago, and I’m so glad they’re bringing it back.
JL: Which character are you playing? What, if anything, do you have in common with this character’s passions, values, intentions or belief system?
NA: I play Hasina Bahram, an Afghan-born woman who is Myra’s campaign manager. She’s very smart, an excellent coach. She’s good at strategy – she’s good at knowing what can help and what can hurt. She’s crass when it’s called for. She’s more direct than I am, but I relate to her ability to read a situation and figure out how to make the best of it. We don’t share the same politics, but she’s a great coach, and ultimately, she’s a really good friend. I relate to that.
JL: What’s next for you as an actor? Where can we follow your work?
NA: I’ll be touring with Musica Aperta next spring with a new play with music about the life of St. Teresa of Avila. And I’ll be updating my website soon: norafachrati.com
About Rep Stage
Rep Stage, a professional regional theatre in residence at Howard Community College, is celebrating its 22nd season. The company is a member of the League of Washington Theatre, the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance and Theatre Communications Group. Rep Stage is recognized by Theatre Washington as professional DC Metro area theatre company and is eligible to be nominated for the Helen Hayes Awards. Performances are made possible by Howard Arts Council, Howard County Government, and the Maryland State Arts Council, an agency funded by the Stage of Maryland and National Endowment of the Arts, as well as through generous individual contributions. Rep Stage is proud to be a partner of Howard County Tourism and promotion. Rep Stage’s Artistic Leadership is helmed by Co-Producing Artistic Directors Suzanne Beal and Joseph Ritsch.
I'm a playwright, dramaturg, and teaching artist. It is here where you'll find my queries and musings on life, theater and the world. My posts advocate for diversity, inclusion, and equity in the American Theatre and updates on my own work. Please enjoy!