Kate Forbes

A Conversation with Cloud 9’s Kate Forbes

By Theresa M. MacNaughton, Community Engagement Associate

Kate ForbesA familiar face at Hartford Stage (The Crucible, Macbeth, Hamlet), Kate chats with us about what drew her to Cloud 9, switching gender, and playing a 9-year-old boy.

What most interested you in Cloud 9 and the opportunity to perform in Hartford Stage’s production?

I was drawn to Cloud 9 because of its unusual way of telling a story. I loved that it was an ensemble piece and that we got to sing! Nobody dies. Very different in style and temperament from the shows I’ve done recently.

Tell us about the characters you portray.

Kate Forbes in Hamlet (2014). Photo by T. Charles Erickson.
Kate Forbes in Hamlet (2014). Photo by T. Charles Erickson.

In Act I, I play 9-year-old Edward, a boy who likes to play with dolls and who dearly wants to impress his father, in colonial Africa. In Act II, I play Betty, a middle-aged mother and wife, finding her way in the changing times of 1970’s London.

Betty first appears in Act I (as played by Tom Pecinka) as Edward’s mother. I don’t see Acts I and II as continual; a 100-year gap separates the two acts, and the characters “who repeat” are in different stages of life. I think of it more as a parallel universe, so that Tom’s Betty in Act I laid the foundation for the Betty of Act II. She’s still a woman bound by the rules of her gender, class, culture; but in the late 1970’s, those rules were losing their hold so that Betty II has the possibility of options that Betty I couldn’t have dreamed of. That new freedom, possibility, and responsibility is terrifying at first! Betty of Act I is a beautiful, yearning creature; Betty II is stepping into a brave new world, where her knowledge of the way the world works just doesn’t apply anymore.

What is your process as an actor – switching roles and gender from Act I to Act II?

One of the things I’ve learned so far: playing a boy feels so direct! As Edward, I’m very aware of the weight of fatherly expectation, of duty, of doing everything “right,” and when I can’t make myself fit into the narrow gap assigned to me – I lie. I learn to say the “right” thing, but being self-deprecating is not part of the package.