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Imogen in the Wild: Interview with Sofia Andom

By Cymbeline Anthropocene on Jun 04, 2021 at 01:29 PM in Project News

In today’s blog, Sofia Andom chats to us about her journey into performing Imogen in Shakespeare in Yosemite’s feature-film Cymbeline adaptation, Imogen in the Wild.

Andom’s story is an astonishing series of firsts: auditioning for the first time, and for an unfamiliar role in an unknown play; making her debut as an actor; negotiating the unfamiliar technicalities of film performance; shooting on location outdoors in sun, rain, and snow; performing as a Black American actor in the work of a historically white Eurocentric playwright; and finding enabling and empathetic connections between her life, growing up as the daughter of immigrants, and the life of elite privilege, but also patriarchal oppression and betrayal, of her character.

Andom speaks movingly about the inspiring and sensitive mentoring of Katie Steele Brokaw, and she credits the socially inclusive and supportive ethos of UC Merced, where, like herself, well over half the student population are first-time university attendees, and mostly of colour. She is thoughtfully candid about overcoming the discomfort of performing with unfamiliar actors in Imogen’s scenes of physical intimacy, or bodily violation. She also finds herself confronting the strangeness of visiting a National Park, traditionally a space of white cultural values on the one hand, and social exclusions for BIPOC persons on the other. Yet Andom transforms these diverse encounters into a multi-phenomenal, intersectional vision of what constitutes environmental experience. This allows her to find new radical answers to the questions, who, and what, are nature for? She also uses this expansive environmental imaginary to find imaginative and emotional pathways for both her character Imogen, and herself an as actor of colour, into mentalities of transformation and reconciliation. And she works in the hope that her performance of Imogen will inspire greater environmental activism, racial equity, and social accessibility and justice. These ideas and much more she generously shares with us.

Cymbeline in the Anthropocene is very grateful to Sofia for her insights, and eagerly looks forward to seeing her performance in full in September. Meanwhile, you catch glimpses of her work in the Shakespeare in Yosemite trailers released so far, and forthcoming ones during the summer which we shall cross-post.