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Jill Winternitz Q&A – I’m Gonna Pray For You So Hard

Adrian Lukis and Jill Winternitz
Adrian Lukis and Jill Winternitz

Everything I did – every decision I made – led me right here – right to this moment, here with you.
Ella is a precocious and fiercely competitive actress whose sole aim in life is making her famous playwright father, David, proud. Over the course of a wickedly intense evening, David (Adrian Lukis) and Ella (Jill Winternitz) deliberate whether to read the reviews of her off-Broadway debut. But that decision could shatter their relationship forever…

A hilarious and gut-wrenching black comedy which sheds new light on the eternal struggles of family life. I’m Gonna Pray For You So Hard reminds us that you don’t have to be part of a theatrical family to know that life is filled with drama. And for that, there’s no dress rehearsal.

Jill Winternitz chats about the production and more…

Q: What attracted you to be in this production?
Jill: I was in New York City for some meetings when I was sent the script. Cozied up in the lobby of a Midtown hotel, I was completely spellbound by the play. It is so real, relatable, and uncanny its connections to my own journey as an actor. I thought this would be extremely challenging and rewarding… I need to do this.

Q: You play the part of Ella – can you tell us about her?
Jill: Ella is desperately seeking validation from her highly successful and hard-to-please playwright father David. She craves success as an actor, to carve her own name/path in the industry despite her father’s large shadow, she wants to prove to him that she is good enough, she is worthy of his love, that she can live up to his colossal expectations.

Q: What are Ella’s strengths and weaknesses?
Jill: Ella is full of heart, she loves her Dad beyond measure. She’s an incredibly hard worker, driven, and focused. This can be a double-edged sword though, as she can be far too hard on herself, and succumb to self-doubt and loathing. When life becomes impossible, she makes choices that alter her journey entirely.

Q: You are cast alongside Adrian Lukis as David. Can you tell us about rehearsals?
Jill: I’ve been so lucky to work with an amazing creative team on this play. Adrian has been a huge source of inspiration. I think we are all very honoured to be bringing Halley Feiffer’s work the UK for the first time, and there is a huge amount of care and responsibility that comes along with that.

Q: What can you tell us about David?
Jill: David is a fascinating character- he’s charismatic, passionate, fiercely intelligent, and deeply troubled. He truly loves being a father but doesn’t realize the depth of destruction he is capable of.

Q: Can you tell us about the storyline and how much it reflects reality?
Jill: The storyline of the joys and challenges of a parent-child relationship, and the drive to prove ourselves to our parents, to win their love, is a familiar and true one. I know I certainly see myself in it. Halley Feiffer comes from a very successful, artistic family, and the play she has written is certainly imbued with authenticity. But it is also a distilled truth, to create the highest impact for the audience.

Q: What can the audience look forward to and take away from watching this production?
Jill: I hope that by bringing these characters to life, our audience will look into there own lives and question what resonates with them personally, hopefully leading to discussion and maybe self-inquiry. There’s also some brilliant humour in the script, so I hope we can give people some good belly laughs as well as food for thought.

Why should everyone spend their money on seeing I’m Gonna Pray For You So Hard?
Jill: Halley Feiffer is a phenomenal writer. This is a chance to experience her magic at the wonderful Finborough Theatre in London.

Q: What’s next for you this year?
Jill: I just shot a film with Kelly Reilly and Luke Evans called 10×10 which is coming out later this year. It’s a thriller where I play a rather overbearing yoga student. I’m also working on a web series with my husband, so hopefully more news on that soon.

Tuesday, 28 February – Saturday, 25 March 2017
Finborough Theatre

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  • Neil Cheesman

    First becoming involved in an online theatre business in 2005 and launching londontheatre1.com in September 2013. Neil writes reviews and news articles, and has interviewed over 150 actors and actresses from the West End, Broadway, film, television, and theatre. Follow Neil on Twitter @LondonTheatre1

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