Watch: Recently married Natalie Symons and Jim Sorensen — Most Promising Playwright and Best Actor — talk w. CL's David Warner during the Best of the Bay awards reception Sept. 19 at Creative Loafing, and Natalie almost spills the beans about a part she just might be writing for her husband.
Best Actor Sorensen and Most Promising Playwright Symons got married four months ago. They responded via email to CL's questions about their relationship and their work.
CL: When and how did you meet? And you married… when?
Jim: "We actually met at a Dramatists Guild meeting at American Stage in June of 2011. After dating for about three weeks, we realized we were just meant to be, and have been inseparable since. We were married 5/25/12 in a small backyard ceremony at Thelma Rothman's house."
Did working together in freeFall's Becky Shaw onstage give you an idea of how you'd work together as a couple offstage?
Jim: "Working with Natalie during Becky Shaw was stellar — she's such a strong actor, she made me better — kinda like our life offstage — we have a great respect for each other, and yet it's a very yin-yang thing. We fall into fairly traditional male-female roles, and we both truly enjoy supporting where the other is less strong."
Natalie: "We were already living together by the time Becky Shaw rehearsals started. So thankfully we worked as well together onstage as we did offstage. But more than anything working on Becky Shaw together was a great way to spend time together."
How does your relationship feed your theater work?
Jim: "As far as the relationship feeding the theater work — it definitely does. As is to be expected, we have very similar tastes in acting styles & choices, and a great love of dissecting the minutiae of characters and author's intent. Also, she's basically an unofficial staff member here at freeFall — she does so much to help us out — and I saw The Foreigner (Nat's last show at Am Stage) five or six times — didn't hurt that it was funny and she was great in it — we definitely are each other's biggest fans."
How do you support each other in your work?
Natalie: "For me, part of supporting Jim in his work is about knowing when to offer my feedback or two cents and knowing when to keep it to myself and make him chicken parmesan. It might not be very feminist of me, but there are times when I just like to be his wife. And part of that is taking a step back from being a theater person. It's why I left the theater for so many years. I needed perspectives in order to be a better artist. I think that balance holds true in our marriage as well.
Jim, does Natalie ask for input on her writing?Jim: "With her writing, she does ask for help, though she's keeping the new piece under wraps 'until about the second or third draft.' We've made minor edits to the published version of Lark Eden which only seem to have made the piece even more endearing and funny (plug alert: Lark Eden at American Stage September 23, 7 p.m.!)"
Natalie: "I haven't asked since we disagreed over the use of the word lope in a sentence."
How do you help each other when you're preparing for roles?
Jim: "We help each other with lines, understanding the character, the show, and our specific relationship to the other characters. And then we laugh & drink lots of wine and [edited for mature content]. At the end of the day, she's my best friend and biggest supporter, and it's very convenient that she sleeps in the bed next to me :)"