Our Q&A with Kristen Bush is part two of our four part series with the cast of Isaac's Eye. Kristen plays Catherine Hooke, a pharmacist and love interest to both Isaac Newton & Robert Hooke.
Q. What about the character of Catherine Hooke surprised you, as you started to explore playing a female pharmacist in 1655?
A. There is very little known about my character, Catherine Storer. I wanted to find more factual evidence of her existence, but beyond what the play covered, there wasn't much more. I suppose the most interesting surprise of all was how relatable her relationship to Isaac was: the ambiguous 'did-they-love-each-other-or-didn't-they' is something nearly everyone has gone through. The notion that she shared some of his scientific curiosity becasue of her profession makes sense & is shown by the way she structures an argument.
Q. Does the period factor at all in to your characterization of Catherine, or does it feel like a fully modern role to you?
A. This play has felt timeless to me. It feels like the present at times but there is a scarcity in the language that suggests a rural, straightforward setting that could exist in many times.
Q. Catherine says that she and Hooke have been dating. Imagine a date with Robert Hooke, what is that experience like?
A. I think it would involve lots of raunchy sex.
Q. You previously played scientist Rosalind Franklin, in the EST/Sloan Production of Anna Ziegler's PHOTOGRAPH 51. In many ways, Rosalind was more like Isaac. Has that influenced how your Catherine relates to Isaac in this production?
A. One of the contradictions in the way that Catherine wants a relationship with Isaac is how she both loves his genius and wishes he could alter it to fit her needs. It has been eye-opening to play a part where the character has existed in the spaces around another character for years...only to realize that it's not 'good enough.' The fact that Catherine doesn't blame Isaac for his emotional shortcomings suggests a real openness. I suppose it could be seen as a mirror of Rosalind & her various interactions. I can empathize with both sides.
Q. Did historical research about the real Catherine Storer affect your creation of the character at all? Do you think Isaac Newton really loved her?
A. Certainly, any kind of research affects one's work in the space. however, at a certain point, the actor needs to let it go. With this play in particular I have found that so much of what happens...happens in the moment on stage. That combined with the sheer fact that there is so little known about her has left much to our imaginations, which I've found liberating. And I think he loved her...because why not? That's more compelling than if he didn't.
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