Lila Smith: A Princess Playing a Prince

Lila Smith is a 7th grader at the Charles Towne Center and is making her Warehouse Theatre debut in Richard III. She’s been performing with the South Carolina Children’s Theatre for several years with notable performances in Pinkalicious the Musical and The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. We are excited to have her on our Main Stage right now and recently got the opportunity to spend some interview time with her. Here’s what Lila had to say:

WHT:   So let’s talk about your education. We ask everybody that!
Lila:  I’ve been at Charles Townes Center since third grade and will finish eighth grade there next year. After that I plan on applying for the Fine Arts Center.

WHT:  Are you originally from Greenville?
Lila:  Born in Greenville and have been here my whole life (all 13 years)!

WHT: What’s your favorite thing about living in Greenville?
Lila: The arts community. So many talented people and awesome theatres in one city. It goes to show you don’t have to be on Broadway or in a Hollywood movie to change someone’s perspective with your performance. You can do it right here in Greenville.

WHT:  And we are excited to have your debut with us!
Lila:  I am thrilled to be in my first one at The Warehouse Theatre!

WHT:  Do you have a favorite production that you’ve been physically involved with?
Lila:   Pinkalicious the Musical at South Carolina Children’s Theatre. Yes, Pinkalicious…a little girl who eats too many pink cupcakes and turns pink all over. It was a lot of singing and dancing action, but that’s my favorite part about a show. It was challenging putting everything together and also getting pink-ified every night. Before each show, my face neck and arms were painted with pink makeup. It was hard trying not to accidentally get any pink tint on my cast mates’ costumes. It also showed how effective “theatre magic” is. To create the illusion that Pinkalicious goes from normal to pink to red, three of us played the role. Kids and adults didn’t realize that three girls had traded out the role throughout the show until we bowed at curtain call. Everyone that was a part of that show was fun and very talented and another great experience at SCCT.

WHT: Favorite experience in the theatre as an actor or backstage tech?
Lila: As an actor…just the atmosphere at the theatre, no matter what theatre it is. Though no theatres are the same, they all give you a rush of nervousness and excitement backstage.

WHT:  What’s your favorite part of being an actor?
Lila:   The busyness of it. I work better and stay on task when I have things to do. So acting keeps me on my feet, in a great way. I also love working with other people. It gives me opportunities to learn from other actors, as well as have a lot of laughs. (Lila adds a smiley face here.) And one last thing I love (though the list goes on and on): every day’s always different. Though the show may be the same, the audience’s responses always change. And after one show is over, you can start again with a new one. That’s something actors get that other jobs can’t give you.

WHT:  Is there someone else’s work you greatly enjoy?  Or admire?
Lila: I admire any director. I didn’t realize how hard directing would be until we started a directing project in my acting class with Betsy Bisson (who is herself an amazing director) at The South Carolina Children’s Theatre. We are directing scenes from Our Town, and it is really complicated just putting together one scene. That project has definitely helped me see a show from a different perspective, and understand the craziness of directing a show, and how patient / talented successful directors must be.

WHT:  Is there someone who greatly influenced your work as an actor?
Lila:  South Carolina Children’s Theatre…specifically Betsy Bisson and Traysie Amick. I took my first acting class there when I was three, and started back when I was eight, and I’ve been there ever since. I would know very little of the skills I have today if it weren’t for SCCT and their teaching process and performance process. It’s become my second home, and a very great one, I might add. Also, I think The Warehouse Theatre doing This Wooden O traveling to schools is an awesome thing for all kids in Greenville County. They show that Shakespeare is FUN!

WHT: Is there a routine or ritual that you go through before you perform?
Lila: I always speed through just my lines / songs right before a show. I may look like a crazy person sitting in the corner talking to myself, but let’s be real, most actors do it.

WHT:  How many Shakespeares do you have under your belt now?
Lila:  I’ve done Shakespeare monologues, read several plays, and done some school Shakespeare plays, but this is my first professional Shakespeare play. When I was in fifth grade, I played the role of Nick Bottom in Midsummer at my school. I had gotten in to Shakespeare a little bit by then, but that was when I really realized how funny yet tragic his work still is, 400 years later. Nick Bottom is by far my favorite Shakespearean character. It was a perfect intro to the Shakepearean world when I got to play him, because I got to show the audience and my classmates that Shakespeare created this character! He’s pretty cool, right?

WHT:  We certainly think he’s cool around here! What is your favorite thing about working on Shakespeare’s plays?
Lila: I’ve enjoyed watching the other actors’ interpretations of the text and seeing how natural Shakespeare’s lines come to some actors. It shows that the more experience you have, the more comfortable you’ll be in rehearsals and onstage.

WHT: What’s been your favorite thing about this rehearsal process?
Lila: It’s been neat working with all adults. I’ve learned a lot from them, good and the bad. Ha!Ha! Just kidding! I love you all!. But overall my favorite part of this show is the cast. Everyone is so, so nice and hilarious (and I can’t forget EXTREMELY talented), and I sincerely hope to work with them again. At The Warehouse Theatre, the cast has treated me like an adult and colleague, which I appreciate very much.

WHT: Is there a moment in this show that has changed dramatically for you from the beginning of rehearsals until performance?
Lila: The ghost scene. I had no idea what Alex had planned for that scene. Now that it’s done, it’s pretty stinkin’ awesome and goes to show Alex is a genius. But I don’t want to give any spoilers, so I’ll keep my mouth closed for now and just say it will give everyone the creeps (in a good way).

WHT:  This show focuses more on the action and less on the historical elements of Richard III. What was that like to experience a rather well known text in a bit of a different light?
Lila: I personally love it and I think the audience will, too. The choices Alex made for our show are brilliant, as I mentioned before, and the fight scenes give me chills, especially the last one (kudos to Jason Adkins, our fight choreographer)! Our version of the show has the audience laughing and at the same time, on the edge of their seats.

WHT: One thing you learned during this rehearsal process?
Lila: That the Miniature World of Trains doesn’t get enough love! Everyone should love trains!

WHT: How many wind-sprints did you have to do to get in shape to cross this vast desert of a stage?
Lila: Fortunately, Prince Edward doesn’t have any intense fighting scenes or crazy crosses to do in this show. My teddy bear and I simply stroll through.

WHT:  You lucky lady! Any words of advice for audience members coming to Richard III?
Lila:  Be prepared to have your mind blown.

WHT:  Once Richard has been interred, what’s your next gig?
Lila:  Not sure yet. I’m just going to keep auditioning and loving what I do.

See Lila as Prince Edward in Richard III playing through May 2nd!