As a fourth generation Seattelite, Rachel Guyer-Mafune lives with the Pacific Northwest in her DNA. She’s a 2016 graduate of Cornish College of the Arts and a member of ACT’s 2018 Core Company.
And like any great actor, she considers her artistic identity a work in progress. She’s committed to expanding her capabilities, learning from and listening to her theatre peers and finding inspiration in everything. We had the opportunity to speak with her about her recent performance in Sarah DeLappe’s The Wolves, her commitment to new work and her passion for this city.
Danielle Mohlman: The Wolves seems to be gaining momentum with every regional production. What attracted you to Sarah DeLappe’s script? How has working with this ensemble at ACT informed the way you rehearse and collaborate?
Rachel Guyer-Mafune: I played soccer as a child and was a teenager not too long ago, so this script resonated with me front to back. The characters are intelligent, strong as hell and defy reductive female stereotypes in theatre. I was so excited for the audience to get a glimpse of what it means to be a teenage girl today. Everyone working on The Wolves truly became a pack, and the trustful bond we created was an imperative step to becoming a team.
Looking at this past season—especially Teh Internet is Serious Business at WET, Howl’s Moving Castle at Book-It, and The Wolves at ACT—it’s clear you’re attracted to new plays and Seattle premieres. Are there any favorite playwrights you’re hoping to see on Seattle stages one day?
I’m super amped for WET’s next season, which includes new plays written by female playwrights. Joining WET as a company member last year has motivated me to read new plays and discover playwrights I might not otherwise know about. Having a theatre family to discuss new works with is awesome. I’m also really excited about ACT’s first playwright in the Core Company, Yussef El Guindi. He’s had plays produced at ACT and all over the country and he’s one talented dude. It’s been a blast reading his work with other Core Company members.
You were recently named to ACT’s 2018 Core Company. Could you talk to me about what it means to be part of this company of artists?
Joining ACT has made me realize that my artistic path is not one I have to navigate alone. Knowing I’m surrounded by folks who believe in my work and have confidence in my ability to grow as an actor—it’s incredible. I am one lucky gal. John Langs, the artistic director, absolutely adores actors and he’s committed to providing us with a space to bloom and creatively flourish. I’m beyond proud to represent ACT as an artistic ambassador this year.
What excites you most about being an artist in Seattle? How do you hope to grow and challenge the theatre community here?
Being part Japanese American and a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I’m hungry for more characters like me. I mean, how dope would it be to see an unapologetically brazen, mixed, pansexual woman onstage right now? I’m currently working on using my voice to express our need for diverse, inclusive and relevant theatre. I’m learning how to take my space, while giving the mic to others who need to be heard first.
Are there any musicians, dancers or theatre artists that you’re especially excited about next season?
I’m looking forward to continuously watching new artists and work I’ve never seen before. I want to see more shows and make connections with folks who are dedicated to telling honest, unvarnished stories onstage and off. It’s going to be an amazing year to find inspiration in this community.
Danielle Mohlman is a Seattle-based playwright and arts journalist. She’s a frequent contributor to Encore, where she’s written about everything from the intersection of sports and theatre to the landscape of sensory-friendly performances. Danielle’s work can also be found in American Theatre, The Dramatist and on the Quirk Books blog.