Meet the Actor – Miriam Neiman

What’s your name?

Miriam Neiman.

Who are you playing?

I am playing Mattie Fae.

Is this your first time at HITW?

It is the first time I’ve been here in about ten years. Now some of my favorite performances, I got to do Wit, The Importance of Being Earnest, I got to do The Shadow Box

How did you get into theater, and what is your background in theater?

So I got into theater because I am the only girl among four boys. My parents were into theater. My mom did a lot of that. She would have to leave us, to go to do a show. So I said to mom, “can I just go and, and watch you with the rehearsal?” And she said, “well, yeah, you can go, but you have to be quiet and sit in the audience”. And I was like, “okay, okay, anything.”

And I just watched her, and I was just like, wow, this looks like fun. And Newington had a children’s theater, and I just said, “can I do that?” And so she signed me up, and then I’ve just been performing ever since. I actually majored in theater for a couple of years. I didn’t wind up pursuing that, but that’s where I started because it was a dream.

So, going back to August, without getting too spoilery, describe your character. 

My character is the sister in law, and she is very much the take charge person. She wants things the way she wants them, and she also has things that she doesn’t want to talk about. 

If you could give your character advice, what would it be? 

Be a little bit more forgiving and ease up on your son.

You’re the mother of Little Charles?


How do you think this show got a Pulitzer Prize for drama in 2008? 

It just has such depth of character. Um, you know, there are lots of plays about dysfunctional families. But this one really does do an excellent job of kind of showing some of the reasons behind it and how things just creep in and corrupt from generation to generation to generation. It does it with some humor and some empathy. 

Do you have a favorite book? 

I’m a librarian! It’s not that I have a favorite book, I have favorite authors, I have books that I cherish from when I was younger. So yeah. I like books that deal a lot with characters. So, [for authors, I love] Louise Penny, and Deb Crombie. I was just talking – we were doing a staff picks thing [at work]- about “A Gentleman in Moscow.” There’s a man who is sentenced to live in a hotel in Moscow. He’s not allowed to leave. So, nothing happens, over 40 years, and it’s the most fascinating book. It’s all the things he does deal with over the course of those forty years. The relationships he forms and how those impact his life and his future. 

I just love watching that progression of how everything fits together, and little bits and pieces of the characters fall into place. I just love it.

Like Waiting for Godot or “I Am Legend”?

I don’t know “I Am Legend,” but no, it’s not  Waiting for Godot. Okay. So, you’ve got this span of time from the early 1900s to just after World War II.

So a lot is going on outside, but it doesn’t all come into, like, it’s, it’s felt inside the hotel, but it’s like, you never see anything that happens during World War II. You get glimpses of what happened during that time, but you don’t ever see him dealing with it.

It’s just all the things that he does deal with and all the long-range planning that happens, kind of thing. A colleague told me about it and, and I’m just so glad she did. 

Do you have a favorite poem? 

When I was in theater school we had to learn certain poems and there was one by Gerard Manley Hopkins that I loved because I loved the alliteration of it.

If you’re going to ask me to say it now, I’m not going to be able to, but “Praise Be for Dappled Things” and I can’t remember the rest of it right now, but I love to say it because of all the alliteration and so on. 

Do you have a favorite drink, alcoholic or otherwise?

I’m not much of a drinker to tell the truth. I drink a little bit of wine

What’s a fun fact about yourself? 

I learned how to rappel at a geocaching event. I’ve gotten to do it twice.

Is there anything else you’d like to say, other ventures, shoutouts? 

I’m just really glad that I get a chance to do this show. This is a show that came to my attention years and years ago. I used to participate in a play reading thing with a bunch of friends and I used to say, “Please, can we do this?”

Appended: Pied Beauty by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Glory be to God for dappled things –

For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;

For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;

Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;

Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough;

And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;

Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)

With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;

He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:

                             Praise him.