Art Works Blog

Art Talk with Cassie Beck

Like many actors, Cassie Beck knew at a young age that she wanted to perform. Her journey began with competitive Irish step dancing. Then, she went on to act competitively throughout the South. Dramatic acting, however, wasn't her primary passion; that spot was reserved for musical theater. One thing led to another and she found herself at the University of Memphis on a full ride thanks to her acting acumen. Today, she's one of six actors in the uproariously dark drama--and Pulitzer finalist--The Humans by Stephen Karam. The Humans also won best play at the Tony Awards this year. 

The 90-minute play takes place in real time during an uneasy Thanksgiving dinner. Beck portrays Aimee Blake, the older of two sisters in a middle-class family from Scanton, PA. Each member of the Blake family, from Brigid (the younger sister), to the almost catatonic grandmother, Momo, find his or herself in the throes of change. Aimee, for example, is suffering from the emotional fallout of a break-up with her ex, Carol, and she's about to lose her job at a law firm in Philadelphia. Heartache and financial setbacks underscore the slow-burning Blake family implosion. It's as if their story represents something bigger playing out in the actual lives of ordinary Americans off-Broadway.

According to Beck, "It’s a cross-generational play. Stephen is a young man in his thirties and that he wrote with such depth for each generation that’s represented onstage. Everybody has their moment...but it’s not even that obvious that everybody has their moment; it’s so subtle and nuanced. It’s more that the characters’ relationships are so well drawn but they also have enough room for the actor to come to the table." Come to the table she does. Listen as she shares her journey from small-town Mississippi to Broadway. 

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