Lisa Tejaro is Whip-Smart in "Wit"

February 6, 2017

​Lisa Tejaro is one of Chicago's finest actors, giving what the Chicago Sun-Times calls "a whip-smart, ultimately crushing performance" in The Hypocrites production of "Wit". Winner of the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Margaret Edson’s play is a haunting tale of loss and meditation on life, directed by Marti Lyons. Lisa plays Dr. Vivian Bearing, who recounts her battle with cancer and struggles to accept her approaching end. Wit runs until February 19, 2017 at The Den Theatre. For more information, look here.

What's your personal story?
I'm a daughter of an immigrant doctor from the Philippines (whose father was a merchant immigrant there, from China), my mother was a nurse who grew up on a farm in the midwest though her parents were both from the Blueridge mountains of Virginia & my great aunt was amember of the D.A.R.. My childhood backdrop was small midwest towns in Illinois, Wisconsin & Mo. After graduating w/ my BFA from Webster College in St. Louis, & living abroad in the Philippines for a year, I moved to Chicago & not only fell in love w/ the city but the theatre scene, and though I travel a lot for work, and despite ( or because of...?) weathering almost 3 decades of winter here, I still consider myself a Chicagoan.

How do you describe Dr. Bearing in "Wit”?
Smart, Smart & Smart, & oh - very tough. Vivian  Bearing is extremely intelligent, & has always depended on that to define herself, and survive so she has become extremely self-sufficient but also somewhat isolated. She's a strong female lone-wolf, who is  suddenly ailing. She has high standards even for herself which though at one point gave her great pride she now realizes the hollowness of that pride as her sole/soul self worth & the value of the "pack".

What challenges does Vivian face telling her story?
Through her scholarly mind she has rationalized & compartmentalized what living & dying should be like, but through her diagnosis of stage 4 cancer & 8 months of intensive extreme & experimental chemotherapy, she discovers that she no longer finds comfort in her intellect or scholarly pursuits. Though Vivian sees herself as a great seeker of truth of the human experience it is her own pride of that intellect & the fear of not being good enough to deserve any "transcendence"as her own "mortal coil" loosens.

Her challenges are:
Internally-her own mind, her own intellect, her own fear, her own body Externally-cancer, treatment of cancer, a medical system that can myopically only see the disease & not the person w/ the disease, and time, and time, and time.

How does she overcome those challenges?
She is gradually Humbled by her own  bodies failings & humanity. In the end  once she can fully accept that she & let of of her hubris, she is able to reconnect w/ her inner child soul  that allows her to incorporate wanting, asking & receiving & ultimately valuing human camaraderie through simple acts of kindness.

Any other comments?
When I first got cast in the late spring of 2016, even then I knew I wanted to be truthful to her unapologetic "flintiness", but also be empathetic to her journey  as well. Because the story is extremely universal-The truth of what it is to be human in all our own glory & shortcomings and how we shall meet our own death in the light of that. We shall experience that in our own way. Empathy to ourselves & others is a big part of how we can transcend our own fear & hopefully other's fears as well. All of which feels even more timely now.

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Mia Park
Mia Park shares her passion of discovery through teaching yoga and acting. Currently studying acupuncture and Chinese medicine, Mia is also a producer, writer, motivator, and celebrator of life. Mia has lived in Chicago for over twenty years and calls this city that works her home.

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Meet Harmony Zhang
DePaul student Harmony Zhang ​acts in The House of Bernarda Alba​​ by Federico García Lorca, directed by Jeremy Aluma​. ​Lorca’s final play set in the provincial Andalusia, Spain, ignites with the funeral service of Bernarda Alba’s second husband. Ever determined that her five grown daughters maintain a house of honor, Bernarda declares they will have an eight-year mourning period of absolute seclusion. When the eldest daughter receives a large inheritance, potentially sweeping her away from this fate and into an engagement with a handsome bachelor, conflict brews among the sisters repressed by Bernarda’s rule. Set in a time of tumultuous political climate, this story explores the underbelly of what happens when a tyrant seizes power. The House of Bernarda Alba runs Tuesday through Saturday at 7:30 PM, and Saturday and Sunday at 2:00 PM November 7, through November 12, 2017. Free tickets can be reserved on October 27, 2017 at noon at the box office, by calling 773-325-7900, or emailing Press Opening is Wednesday, November 8, 2017 at 7:30 PM. **Preview is Tuesday, November 7, 2017 at 7:30 PM. The House of Bernarda Alba will be performed in Room 403 of The Theatre School at DePaul University at 2350 N Racine Ave, Chicago, IL 60614 What's your personal story? I grew up in Tucson, Arizona as one of very few Chinese Americans in my neighborhood. I remember that my sister and I were the only Chinese kids in my whole elementary school. However, my family attended a Chinese church in downtown Tucson, and I also attended Tucson Chinese School where I learned to read and write Mandarin Chinese. I’m very thankful for the persistence that my parents had to have my sister and me grow up learning Chinese and holding on to our ethnic culture. However, growing up, I felt like I was never fully Chinese nor fully American. I didn’t feel the need to blend in with the other kids, but I also desired to connect better with others. An opportunity came up in kindergarten when the entire grade put on a show for the whole school. This was the first time that I felt like I was part of a team, part of a larger group effort to create something fun and beautiful. I remember that year, our production was called ‘To the Future and Beyond,’ and I sang the final solo of the show. In middle school and high school, I continued to take drama classes whenever possible. I loved learning about the lives of people so different from me, memorizing my lines, and sharing those stories with audiences. In college at Duke University, I decided to major in Psychology and Theater Studies, and also performed in three of the Theater Department’s Mainstage shows. Currently, I’m in my second year of my MFA in Acting program at The Theatre School at DePaul University. What's your character's story in "The House of Bernarda Alba”? My character’s name is Angustias, which means anguish or distress. She is the eldest unmarried daughter of Bernarda Alba and is already 39. Angustias is the sole daughter of Bernarda Alba’s former husband, while the rest of her sisters are the daughters of Antonio Maria Benavides, the man they are all mourning at the top of the show. Angustias’ father was rich, so when Antonio Maria Benavides dies and the property must be divided, Angustias’ share of the estate is much larger than that of her sisters. This wealth that Angustias has is then attractive to Pepe, who is trying to marry her, and while Angustias truly believes that he loves her for her, she really just wants to be loved and free from the oppression and alienation she feels within the walls of Bernarda’s house. What challenges does your character face telling this story? Angustias is constantly struggling with the antagonistic energy she receives from her sisters. No matter what she does, her sisters find some way to make her feel even more alienated and separate from the group. No one really gives her a chance to share more about herself. Angustias is always defending herself, but somehow it always comes off as offensive towards her sisters. She doesn’t feel understood. She wants her mother’s approval, but also doesn’t feel fully understood by her either. Angustias has a hard time in this story, because she doesn’t feel like anyone is on her side. How does the character overcome those challenges? Angustias changes throughout the play—I won’t give away too much, but in some ways, Angustias is redeemed from all of her bitterness at the end of the play when her sisters discover how they have wronged her. While Angustias behaved more out of spite at the top of the show, she begins to genuinely ask for help, advice, and empathy at the end of the play. Angustias overcomes her challenges of alienation towards the end of the play when she risks being judged by her mother and sisters by being more vulnerable, and seeking to find the truth, even if she gets hurt in the end. Any other comments? I hope that this play helps audience members to be thankful for the people in life who love them, to hold them close, and to try to understand each other instead of being blinded by individual desires. Why not work together? Why not be a team and create something beautiful? Life is too short not to make the most of it every day. Thank you so much for your time!
Mia Park