A Physical Connection with Actress Amy Gordon
Amy Gordon’s headshot, from photographer Luke Stambouliah, source
Few actors are able to bring the energy and enthusiasm of the stage into their every day. For Amy Gordon, performance and life are inseparable. The lauded comedian and singer’s fierce wit, sense of humor, and bombastic presence carry onto the stage and off. One of the greatest natural gifts of a performer is the control of tension and an intuition for the emotional tenor of the audience. Reading people is a precise art form that Gordon has perfected through decades of experience. Also working as a screenwriter and producer, she is currently in post-production her semi-autobiographical sit-com pilot, Big Time, about a woman running away from the circus to live in NYC. But for Gordon, this is only the beginning.
Before ending up in Brooklyn where she is currently based, Gordon was born in Seattle WA on November 6, 1974. At the tender age of seven, Gordon landed her first acting role as Doc, the leader of the Seven Dwarves, in her elementary school’s original version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Wearing her father’s orange Dashiki and red tights, she sang and danced “A Whole Lotta Shakin Goin On.” Having discovered her calling, Gordon earned her BA in Theatre Arts from Western Washington University, magna cum laude. She found success as a finalist in the Kennedy Center/ACTF (American College Theatre Festival) Monologue competition. Insistent on perfectionism, Gordon continued to hone her craft, studying acting with Larry Moss, Seth Barrish of The Barrow Group, and Canedy Knowles. She embarked on TV/Film studies with Lezly Kahn, Margie Haber and Maggie Reed. Several of her most formative vocal teachers like D. Michael Heath, Dawn Shicoff, Justin Stoney, cheered her on to greatness. She then worked with numerous world class physical theatre/comedy teachers including David Shiner, Philippe Gaulier, Avner Eisenberg, and Kenny Raskin, as well as sketch at UCB, Improv with Michael Gellman of Groundlings, Gary Austin of Second City, and Fay Simpson at Michael Howard Studios. Off the top of her head, Gordon counts 52 plays in total, in 40 countries and 138 cities to date. Possessing incredible range and versatility, Gordon has performed solo comedy material in seven different languages: English, French, German, Spanish, Dutch, Italian, and Czech.
In the midst of all of her achievements, Gordon still maintains her roots and a deep consciousness of her past. She can cite her first partners on stage as her most formative meetings. She cast and worked with Michelle Matlock in college while working as choreographer for the Caryl Churchill play, A Mouthful of Birds. Together, they went on to found a multi-disciplinary, multi-cultural production company in NYC called Crossbreeding Productions. The duo put on regular variety shows in the East Village, melding performance arts, media, and races. Working with the many brilliant artists creating in NY in the late 90’s was hugely formative for Gordon. Then, she and Jonah Logan crossed paths while working with the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus in 2001. Within six years they had created five different shows, which they performed over 600 times all around the world, including two different shows at the New Victory Theatre on Broadway. Their pyrotechnic clown theatre company was called Daredevil Opera Company, named after a company that accidentally shared the stage with Buster Keaton in his masterpiece, The Playhouse.
Amy Gordon performing her combination of cabaret, comedy, feathers and rollerskates. Watch her perform a similar skit on France’s Got Talent here.
In Gordon’s mind, several key benchmarks stand out and she remembers them with great zeal. Gordon was the first female solo comedian ever to lead the Big Apple Circus, in all it’s 42 years of being New York City’s circus. She played Pidge, a role she conceived of and created for the company: an NYC pigeon that learned to fly. Her solo show, Entershamement, was the culmination of all of Gordon’s most intimate shames, spun into musical comedy gold. She remarks on the intensive creation process, from conception, to writing, editing, rehearsing, costuming, set design, light design, sound design, performance, touring, marketing, and promotion. It toured for seven years, updating with the times, so much so that Gordon says she still draws from the material and experience daily. “I learned to have a strong root of purpose for my projects, because in order to succeed, you need that bottomless spring of energy, to work as hard as that purpose requires.” To date, one of her biggest roles was in Tyler Perry’s “A Fall From Grace.”
Having a robust and international career, she has lived in such cities as London, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Hamburg, Stuttgart, Vienna, Sydney, and Melbourne. And yet, taking the stage all across the globe and in vastly diverse settings, her mission and drive remains the same. When NY-Artnews asked Gordon what inspired her to become an actress, she responded:
My directive has always been to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable. Learning the intricacies of human expression, relation, reaction and interaction is the most effective way I’ve found into people’s hearts and minds. If I can become someone that the audience knows and understands, I can push the boundary of that understanding to new places. Sometimes that means laughter - when suddenly they see the absurdity of our human condition like I do. Other times, I’m just looking for simple empathy, a connection with strangers for perhaps someone they never knew they could feel for.
For Gordon, performing has been a way to understand herself, others, and communities. In any case, it’s a way I’ve grown to understand myself, other people and communities better, and that in itself feels like time well spent. Gordon is currently narrating audiobooks for Audible, producing music videos, and building a house from the ground up in upstate NY with her husband, the Psychedelic Alt-Rocker, Lord Sonny the Unifier. In her offtime, she loves to dance on roller skates and has been driving a disco-balled Vespa since 2004. It seems for Gordon, joie de vivre is in constant movement.