Cora Vander Broek’s favorite color is purple — a color that is soft and strong. Soft to reflect her sweet personality and her laughter. Strong to reflect her clear goal in life and the fact that she hates to be patronized. Her goal in life is to do whatever it takes to pursue and expand her acting career. This fits perfectly with why Cora does not get freaked out easily about anything. She likes to be presented with new things, like the play All My Sons, in which she plays Ann.
This is Cora’s first time working at TimeLine. She explains warmly, “I had known people and have good friends from here as well. I also had auditioned once before, but this is my first time working here. I feel very safe. What really stands out to me about TimeLine is that there is a sense of a family. I feel like I belong and have always belonged, even though this is my first time working here. I feel like the faces I see on stage are accessible and they are always ready to talk to me about anything. It’s an added surprise for me that I didn’t have to work my way in to feel a part of the group.”
Not only was this Cora’s first time working at TimeLine but also her first time reading the play. It was an interesting experience because everyone else who previously had read the play All My Sons approached the play knowing the themes and plot. Cora didn’t have the option. Yet, she felt it was better that way because discoveries about herself and as well her character were a little easier since she started from scratch.
Cora explained, “Until the audition, I had never read All My Sons. I knew of it but I never read it. The intellectual part of me is a little embarrassed to confess that. But my actor side is actually relieved that I came to it knowing less because I think I would have come with more preconceived notions. Yes, I’m still dealing with the weight of knowing that it is a big play, but thankfully it has not been too difficult to approach it as just another play. And, of course, when I read it I thought it was wonderful.”
Because this was Cora’s first time working on All My Sons, she had to find ways to tackle it. She had to connect her life to the characters’ lives in order to understand the family situation. “What I love is that it has a lot to do with family,” she said. “Right before we started rehearsals, I went home to Iowa. I was home for my mom’s wedding and being there was wonderful, and awful. It just reminded me that all families have some sort of dysfunction. Yes, at different levels, but it is common in every family. There are things that we keep from each other that we probably should say, and just a lot of crap that we have to sift through. Being home helped me tackle this play; it is just a family trying to move through a really tough time while trying to love each other. Yes, there are bigger concepts than that but the family dysfunction is what I really love about the play.”
All My Sons does have big concepts — like the greater responsibility people feel beyond the responsibility they feel to family, but Cora reminds us that the basis of those larger concepts is the family. It starts small, just like Cora’s character, Ann. Ann loves a boy and wants to marry him, but many obstacles are in the way. It is this idea that Cora focuses on in order to play her character. From there, the play reveals itself.
When rehearsals moved from TimeLine to the Greenhouse Theater, Cora started feeling a little nervous. “I was dreaming about the play; having weird dreams. I think I just wanted the play to go well. I was nervous but very excited,” she said.
As we moved to the end of our conversation, I asked her if there was anything else she wanted to share about what she hopes the audience experiences from seeing the production. She smiled and after a few minutes, she thoughtfully said, “I hope that audiences find it timely and I hope they forget that it is All My Sons and get wrapped up with the people in it.”