Resident acting company member Phyllis Kay has been with Trinity Rep for almost thirty years. Her first show was in 1991 when she auditioned for Sister Mary Ignatius Explains it All for You, under the direction of George Martin. When Phyllis discovered that then-Artistic Director Richard Jenkins would be directing Macbeth she says, “I wrote him a letter and said I will do anything to be in the rehearsal room with you.”
Though she has worked extensively at Trinity Rep ever since, Phyllis also continues acting on other stages around the region and the country. Last year was particularly busy for her. In Washington, D.C. at Arena Stage, she played multiple roles, including George Washington in JQA (an abbreviation for John Quincy Adams) by Aaron Posner. Phyllis says that working out of town is much different than working at home in Providence, “Working with new artists is a great way to challenge yourself.” Phyllis loved the show so much that she also helped bring it to Rhode Island, where it ran at the Gamm Theatre in fall of 2019. Phyllis was busy in another show you might have heard of, playing multiple roles in The Prince of Providence, including Judge Torres, who famously sentenced Vincent A. “Buddy” Cianci. Early in 2020, Phyllis was featured in We All Fall Down at the Huntington Theatre in Boston, where she played Nan. Phyllis says, “The team was mostly women, and I am so grateful for the experience of working with such a talented group.”
Reflecting on her time at Trinity Rep, and looking at her roles in other places, Phyllis said “I am so lucky to have had this for thirty years. [Artistic Director] Curt Columbus believes that any other place you work is only going to make you a better artist. It’s instructive, in a way that only makes you grow as an actor.”
In Phyllis’ time at Trinity Rep, she has played some incredible roles. She says that there are three that stand out to her. The first is from the 1999-2000 Season, when Phyllis played Maureen in The Beauty Queen of Leenane by Martin McDonagh.She also cites as a favorite Celeste from George Brant’s Into the Breeches! which premiered at Trinity Rep in the 2017-18 Season. Finally, Phyllis notes her fondness for her portrayal of Linda in 2017-18’s Death of Salesman by Arthur Miller, for which she earned a Best Supporting Actress award from the Independent Reviewers of New England (IRNE) and Providence’s own Motif Magazine. Phyllis notes, “When I think about each of these characters, I realized that what they have in common is that they find enormous strength within themselves when they need it most.”
Phyllis is currently spending her time at home supporting Trinity Rep as best she can by preparing for next season, as well as revisiting older productions like A Midsummer Night’s Dream, in which Phyllis played Titania in this clip as well as sharing her talents with us by reading Shakespeare’s sonnet 129.