Jessica Lyke is an 18-year-old theatre student at SUNY New Paltz who has recently been cast as Mira in the university’s student-run play Beautiful Thirsty Things written by Michelle Rodriguez, which opens this month. She sits inside the Backstage Café, her hair in two braided buns. Henna tattoos are covering her body and there is what seems to be a perpetual smile on her face. Anyone can tell she is happy to be where she is.
A classic question in Theatre would be, “What is your motivation in this scene?” So, what is your motivation in this scene called life?
My motivation in life, I guess, is to just-I don’t know, be happy, I guess? I saw this quote on Tumblr and it was very interesting. They were rejecting the idea of happiness as a standard for your life. Being human isn’t just about being happy with your life. It’s about experiencing everything: you know, sadness, anger, all of the emotions. My motivation is to live a fulfilling life.
Pick three words to describe yourself. Don’t think about it. Just say them.
Whimsical, smart, and thoughtful.
I don’t like to take things too seriously. I think if people take life too seriously, they’re not doing it right. We’re only here for a short period of time. Why worry about minute things that don’t really matter?
In a very generalized summary without giving anything away, who is your character? What does she do? How does the play revolve around her?
My character’s name is Mira. She is 13 years old and she has just found out that her mother has died. I’m the youngest. Mira basically is coming to terms with her mother passing away. It’s all about the grieving process.
Would you say you are at all like your character in real life?
Oh yeah, definitely. She reminds me a lot of when I was 13. She’s not like all the other girls with their make-up and their fancy clothes and all that. I was younger than everyone in my grade, so I was always behind everyone else in our interests. I was like, “Dolls!” and they were like “Boys!” and all that. I’ve never been a serious person and I don’t think Mira is either. I would call her whimsical.
What would you tell your character if she asked you for help?
I would tell her that it’s okay to be sad. It’s healthy to be sad. You have to be sad to, you know, go on.
Do you think that SUNY New Paltz students will be able to identify with this play?
It’s not just about death and sadness. It’s about a lot of family issues. It’s about love. People can be like “Oh look, I have those sorts of problems with my dad, or my sister or whatever.” Everyone’s got some sort of shit in their lives and in their families. People will see this play and they will see that whatever issues they have going on in their family their love for each other is ultimately the most important thing.
Beautiful Thirsty Things will be shown Oct. 23 through 25 in Parker Theatre.