Bethany Anne Lind feels like a somebody in ‘Everybody’

Alliance Theatre’s latest show brings the actress back to the stage.

When seeking roles, Bethany Anne Lind tends to gravitate toward work that speaks to her in some sense, or surprises or challenges her. Her new project “Everybody” — at the Alliance Theatre through October 2 — certainly fills the last two criteria. It also returns the actress to her theater roots.

Written by Obie Award-winning, Pulitzer Prize-nominated playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, the play follows the central titular character, an eternal optimist. When Death comes knocking, though, Everybody is forced to examine life and reflect on that which has had the most meaning.

Credit: Greg Mooney

Credit: Greg Mooney

Lind plays one of five Somebodies in the cast, joining fellow actors Chris Kayser, Courtney Patterson, Brandon Burditt and Joseph J. Pendergrast. Each night, an onstage lottery determines which roles the five Somebodies will play, running the gamut from Everybody, Friendship, Kinship, Cousin, Stuff, Evil, Strength, Beauty, Senses and Mind. It’s likely that no performance will be the same.

Others in the cast are Andrew Benator as Death, Shakirah DeMesier as Love, Skylar Ebron as Girl/Time and Deidrie Henry as Usher/God/Understanding. Alliance Theatre Artistic Director Susan V. Booth and Associate Artistic Director Tinashe Kajese-Bolden are co-directing “Everybody,” which Signature Theatre Company debuted off-Broadway in 2017.

When Lind saw that the Alliance was staging the drama, she was — ironically — working with Jacobs-Jenkins on an episode of his new FX show, “Kindred.” “He is a great writer and does such interesting work,” she says. “I was interested in reading [’Everybody’] to see if it could draw me out of my theater retirement. I liked the script and thought it was weird and really funny.”

The experience, however, is admittedly a unique one for Lind and the performers. “We are literally figuring it out as we go,” Lind says. “The five of us are working very hard [during rehearsals] to get it memorized. We are never going to be able to rehearse all of the combinations; it’s impossible to get a full run. We rotate through playing each of the roles. That is the best way we’ve figured out to do it.”

Although Lind has performed multiple roles in a show before, nothing in her acting background has compared to this gig. Booth and Kajese-Bolden have mentioned this is new ground for them, as well. Shifting from character to character and interacting differently with her fellow actors each night requires a lot of trust. Lind allows that, in rehearsals, the Somebodies actors have their own spins on the characters but use each other’s ideas freely and feed off of each other.

Known for local productions such as “Edward Foote,” “August: Osage County,” “26 Miles” (all at the Alliance), “Glass Menagerie” and “Metamorphoses” (both at Georgia Shakespeare), the performer found out just before rehearsals began that this would be Booth’s final show before she departs to become artistic director for Chicago’s Goodman Theatre.

“I told her I was not talking to her yet because I was still in denial,” Lind says. “I still am a little bit. Obviously we are all so happy for her and what this means to her but at the same time very reflective of how she has led our flagship theater since 2004. [Being part of this] is very special and meaningful.”

Lind’s last play was also with the Alliance, “Shakespeare in Love” back in 2017. After that production, she opted to focus instead on film and TV for a while.

“I was trying to do both, and films don’t care if you have a show that night,” she says. “There just wasn’t a way to balance it to give both my full attention. I wanted to see what I could do if I focused on the on-camera side of things.”

Credit: Bill DeLoach

Credit: Bill DeLoach

Most notable of her roles during that stretch was a recurring one as Grace Young on “Ozark.” On TV, she has been seen in “Doom Patrol” and “Reprisal.” Lind also headlined the independent thriller “Blood on Her Name,” receiving strong critical notices, and the films “Second Samuel” and the recent “Chaos Walking.”

Working in those fields has been a rewarding experience and helped her and husband Eric Mendenhall pay bills. Still, she longed to get back to the stage.

“During the pandemic, something in my body just needed to be onstage again and go through this very long working-each-moment-out process,” she says. “I had been poking around, hoping there would be a good one soon. When this came up, it seemed such an experience, and now that I know it’s Susan’s last show, it was the perfect time and fit.”

Theater also felt like a comfortable place to return to after a somewhat dramatic chapter in her screen life. Earlier this year, Lind posted a message on Twitter that became the tweet heard around the world — or at least in the casting community. Her post: “Gigantic cinematic universe making movies about fighting for justice for the little guy sends auditions to non-star actors: WILL NOT PAY ABOVE THE BARE MINIMUM REQUIRED OF US BY YOUR UNION and you just have to laugh.”

Although Lind did not specify it, it was believed that she was referring to Marvel Studios, which shoots many projects in Atlanta. The tweet led to some social media back and forth between the actress and Tara Feldstein of the Atlanta-based casting agency Feldstein/Paris Casting, with Feldstein defending lesser pay for Atlanta-based actors than their New York and Los Angeles counterparts. Eventually, agency owner Chase Paris weighed in and offered an apology of sorts on behalf of the agency. Later Feldstein apologized online and on the phone with Lind, too, yet she has not received any audition notices from Feldstein/Paris Casting since her initial post.

The situation’s aftermath has been tough. “It was very stressful in some ways,” she says. “I felt very supported by my agents and manager and by most of my actor friends. In the moment while it was happening, I knew I was doing the right thing, what I was supposed to do in that situation. I had no doubts and still don’t. A few months after the fact, I don’t know what the circumstances are. It’s impossible to know.”

Audition opportunities are always up and down, Lind says, and she has aged out of ingenue roles. She has spent time of late trying to figure out exactly where she belongs. “It’s hard to know,” she says.

What she does know is that she’s about to be back onstage again with artists she admires in a play that is stretching her acting skills. It’s daunting, but fun.

“There has been one role [in Everybody] I was not connecting with and [eventually] I knew I had to be creative and let myself do it,” she says. “And I let myself be free.”

Credit: ArtsATL

Credit: ArtsATL


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