“From Cold Lake” at the PIT – Interview with Nikki Coble

From Cold Lake - The PIT

From Cold Lake is the latest serialized show from the creative team behind Kapow-i GoGo and Puffs, inspired by radio programs like Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion. With episode 2 premiering on September 12, I sat down with the cast and creative team behind From Cold Lake to talk about small town life and why serialized storytelling is seeing a resurgence.

In this interview, actress Nikki Coble talks about her role as Lorna, and she gives advice on balancing creative passions with financial demands and not being a “starving artist.”

What is From Cold Lake, and what is your role in it?

From Cold Lake is a charmingly funny serial podcast/staged reading series, created and directed by Colin Waitt, produced by Kristin McCarthy Parker and Stephen Stout, scored by Tommy Crawford, and inhabited by a cast of endearingly quirky townsfolk. I play Lorna, a pragmatic wife/mother/sister with a secret or two.

Have you spent any time in Minnesota or the Midwest in general?

Not much at all. I did Amadeus in Indiana, but saw very little of the state. I’ve spent about five minutes in Chicago.

What is the key to nailing a perfect Minnesotan accent?

Immersion. This is a new accent for me, so I have to let it steep a while before I run around with it. Several members of the cast are from the area, so I straight-up copy them where possible and the long O sound is the signature. (There’s so much sn-oooo-w in the r-oooo-ad.)

What is the rehearsal process like for From Cold Lake as opposed to a more traditional stage show?

In regional theatre, I’ve had as much as a month to rehearse a play. With From Cold Lake, we have roughly five hours. Of course, we hold our scripts and don’t have to deal with heavy technical aspects, but overall, it means everyone has to be a quick study, who has done their homework.

Who is your favorite character in the show besides your own?

I adore Local Artist Linda Claver. Colin has created a very funny character, and Whitney nails it.

What do you think is the appeal, particularly for New York audiences, for small town stories, like Garrison Keillor’s Tales from Lake Wobegon, Stars Hollow in Gilmore Girls, and From Cold Lake?

Many New Yorkers are honorary ones, living and working here for a long time, but originating in these small towns. These stories have a nostalgia, a comfort, and a kind of hometown heart we want to stay connected to while New York eats us alive.

Cold Lake - City Hall

Popular culture in summer 2016 has been dominated by serialized storytelling, like Stranger Things, while big-budget movies have generally under-performed. Why do you think serialized long-form storytelling is seeing such a resurgence?

People are bingeing on storytelling. A Netflix subscription gives you the chance to soak up multiple shows in a month, for half the price of a night at the movies. The stories are generally richer and more nuanced, you don’t have to leave your couch, and you can pause it when your Mom calls.

If you lived in Cold Lake, would you rather be the town poet laureate, a general with the local war reenactors, or a legendary fisherman who lost his thumb catching the biggest fish anyone has ever seen?

The poet laureate, for sure…or anyone who doesn’t quite fit the mold.

What would be your secret talent at Cold Lake’s open mic night?

Origami napkin folding.

What advice would you give to aspiring actors who are considering a career in theater?

Empower yourself by cultivating your other creative passions too. Taking head shots, building websites, whatever excites you to subsidize your work. EVERYONE here is talented and special, and there are no guarantees you’ll have your turn. Don’t put financial pressure on your acting career because something like 2 percent of actors make their living this way. If you love it, DO it. Don’t wait for permission. Write. Film. Produce, make your own work, but support yourself through something else that also makes you happy. Your auditions will then be spared of that “I need this job to LIVE!” energy. You can scrap that “starving artist” cliche and baffle people with your joy.

What other projects do you have coming up?

I’m developing an original series for my wee production company, The WC, and I chirp on Twitter @itsnikkicoble

Tickets are on sale now for From Cold Lake at the PIT Loft, located at 154 West 29th Street, and can be purchased online at ThePIT-NYC.com. Individual performances are $10 each or $45 for the entire run. For other questions or assistance with ticket purchases, call the PIT at 212-563-7488.

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