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“I fell in love with it as soon as I read it,” says Amanda Quaid of the new play, Mike Bartlett’s “Cock,” in which she is appearing at the Duke Theater in New York.
Quaid, the 29-year-old daughter of Randy Quaid and his first wife, Ella Jolly, a model-turned-psychotherapist, grew up in Greenwich Village. She has also appeared in “Equus” opposite Daniel Radcliffe on Broadway and in Tony Kushner’s adaptation of Corneille’s “The Illusion” and in Brecht’s “Galileo.” She says her current production is very much an ensemble piece. “It’s like a sports team in a way; we don’t call it rehearsal, we call it ‘practice.’”
The play, she says, is “mentally quite exacting.” Not only is she onstage continuously, but there is no set and there are no props to serve as distractions.
The plot concerns a young man who can’t decide between his longtime boyfriend and his new girlfriend. Quaid plays the girlfriend, the only female role in the piece. The boyfriend brings his father as “backup” to a confrontation between the three of them, because the boy at the center of the triangle has told him that she is very butch, trying to make him feel less bad about his betrayal with a woman. She isn’t. Quaid, who is very Irish-looking, resembles her father and uncle, Dennis, but with their features somehow reconfigured into those of a very pretty girl. She went to Ireland not long ago, and found that there were many people with the last name Quaid there, including a Quaid Apothecary.
“I like to work in classical theater, because language is at the center of it,” says the actress, who studied English at Vassar, noting that the use of language is something that drew her to “Cock.” She would like to do more Shakespeare, having played Juliet in “Romeo and Juliet” at the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival at 18 and Rosalind in “As You Like It” at the Folger Shakespeare Theatre in Washington. She also enjoyed appearing in “Mrs. Warren’s Profession,” with Elizabeth Ashley at the Shakespeare Theatre, because of George Bernard Shaw’s skillful use of language. She hopes at some point to travel with a play on a national tour. As a child, she often traveled to the sites of her father’s films, including a trip to Poland which she describes as “disorienting.”
Recently, her father has been more in the news for his erratic behavior than for his roles, and the former has included seeking asylum in Canada because he and his current wife, Evi, believe that they’re being targeted by people who are killing stars. Amanda says that she thinks that he is “all right,” but doesn’t want to comment further because she feels that to do so would “violate his privacy.”
She is married to Noel Velez, a Puerto Rican former actor who now coaches people on how to communicate better in business. One consideration in their lives is money. “For theater actors and actresses, the money is never enough to support a family, and we want a family,” she says.
Quaid has other strings to her bow, too. She teaches dialects at HB Studio to students from around the world and teaches workshops in Shakespeare’s verse as an artist-in-residence at senior centers. The old cliché about actors wanting to direct doesn’t apply to her, but she would like to write at some point. In fact, she just had a piece published in “American Theater,” writing about technology and acting. She writes, “My call to action is for the artists of Generation Without Borders to strengthen our communities. To be present. To take the buds out of our ears and listen.”