Meet The Artist:
An Interview with Crystal Cossette, Una, Blackbird
Blackbird by David Harrower
Fifteen years ago, Una and Ray had a relationship. They haven’t set eyes on each other since. Now she’s found him again. Winner of the Olivier Award for Best Play, Blackbird is a deeply complex portrayal of two people whose ruined lives are inextricably intertwined after a sexual encounter.
What is your theatrical background?
I’ve been doing theatre almost my whole life and have a degree in Theatre from Augsburg University. I used to perform in musicals primarily, but have been doing just plays for the past few years. My first show with Theatre B was Boys’ Life, which was a loooong time ago; I believe one of their first few seasons. I’ve also performed in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike; Hand to God, The Moors, and assistant directed Church and State. I became an ensemble member in 2017 (I think!)
Why do you love Theatre B?
I love Theatre B because we start important conversations through our shows! I love theatre that makes me think, and that is what Theatre B does best. Being an ensemble member gives me so much pride in everything we do. Each ensemble members’ voice and opinion is taken seriously in helping shape our theatre company. The Theatre B ensemble really is like a second family. I love all of our ensemble meetings that are potlucks at David and Carrie’s house. We all sit down for a big family meal before talking business 🙂
Besides Theatre B, how do you occupy your time?
I work for FBS, a real estate software company and one of the top MLS system providers in our country! We’re the creators of Flexmls. We’re used all over the country, but if you’ve worked with a Realtor in the Fargo-Moorhead area, your Realtor uses our product.
I also own a side baking business called Sugarplum. I specialize in pies, but also do custom orders for all kinds of desserts, like cakes, cookies, french macarons, bars, etc.
Between my full-time job, Sugarplum, Theatre B, and my kids/home life, there isn’t much time for hobbies. I’ve pretty much turned the things that I love to do (hobbies) into jobs of some sort. When I have free time, I enjoy playing board games, video games, coloring, and going for bike rides.
Let’s talk about this show a little bit. Tell me about your character, Una, in Blackbird.
Una is a woman who had an experience that she’s been haunted by her whole life. She’s been unable to fully move past what happened. Blackbird is about living with a painful past experience, and confronting that past head on. (And about so much more, but I don’t want to spoil anything!)
What have you found challenging about this role? What have you found rewarding about the role?
This is the hardest role I’ve ever played. As a woman and mother, it hurts my heart to even just think about what Una experienced when she was young, and to think about the pain she has carried her entire life. Also, during the course of the show, her emotions are all over the place, but they are almost always raw. It’s an emotionally exhausting character to play!
That said, being able to dig deep and touch on so many emotions is cathartic. This play also helps start conversations about the lasting effects of any kind of abuse, and these are incredibly important conversations to be having right now. And working with Hardy has been so rewarding. He’s such a giving and wonderful actor (and person!) to share this experience with.
Is there a line from the show that you find compelling, or that sticks with you?
The play is FULL of compelling lines! I feel like the most compelling might be spoilers…
“I lost more than you ever did.
because I never had
had time to to to begin.”
Interview by Emily Clemenson