Actress Emilie Krause talks about rail., a new show that gives Philly an exclusive look into the private Racquet Club.

-Brenda Hillegas
feature photo: Harry Watermeier and Emilie Krause in rail. Photo by Plate 3 Photography.

rail. is an upcoming immersive theatrical experience that provides Philadelphians with a one-of-a-kind opportunity to experience the private and historic Racquet Club of Philadelphia. The show will be staged in the 100-year-old Racquets court and non-members will have access to the club during rail.’s limited run. This is a great way to finally see the building and experience Philadelphia’s amazing arts scene.

We spoke with actress and photographer Emilie Krause about her role in rail., the show’s premise, and her favorite things to do at home in Philadelphia.

unnamed (2)Q: What’s rail. about? You play Sarah; what is her role in the story?
A: Squash is a game where you’re trapped in a box, hitting a small dark ball that bounces off the walls and back towards the players. There is a sense of claustrophobia in a squash court; the only thing in front of the players is the walls. Finite ends. Limitations. The focus of railis a woman named Sarah, and we dive into the squash court of her mind. Sarah wants to make a new lover blush, Sarah wants to hold her brother’s baby, Sarah wants her father to take in the world without regret. Sarah wants to find a space beyond the confines of her mind.

Q: What did you do to prepare for this role? Do you relate to Sarah at all in your real life? 
A: Well, I’ve been taking squash lessons. I’m pretty bad. The majority of my experience of racquet sports is playing ping pong in the basement of the Arden Theatre, and though I have a hearty sense of competition, I don’t usually win the game. However there’s something about squash that I’m growing to love; the way the rest of my life falls away and my entire focus becomes a small dot that ricochets off the walls in surprising directions. It’s like inverse meditation. I have also been re-reading a book called Outline by Rachel Cusk, there is a certain doomy quality to her writing that I relate to and love. This mood tethers me to Sarah, and to Zac’s writing in general.

Q: Have you worked with rail.’s writer and co-directed Zac Kline in the past? How did you get involved with this show?
A: Zac and I collaborated on a workshop of his play Anna, a Ghost Story, which I love. There is a Pinter-y, Checkhovian-short-story mood to his writing that feels mysterious and sad and very, very human. The process was an energetic and joyful one, and I felt lucky for the opportunity to dive into another piece together. This is also technically my first two-hander, so there’s some fun, excited nail-biting going on. I’m so lucky to be heading into those deep waters with Harry Watermier who’s acting chops and skills on the squash court are already a delight. We’ve got an incredible team behind the scenes as well, Amanda Jensen and El Safer to name a few. It’s a lovely group.

Q: Tell us about your recent work at PlayPenn and what the organization is all about?
A: PlayPenn is the best. PlayPenn is summer camp for theater artists. PlayPenn is a laboratory for new plays, where playwrights are given a director, a dramaturg, a group of actors and time. They use these tools to develop a play over a two week(ish) process, and can experiment and fail and succeed and learn with the support of other artists, instead of trapped in a room alone with their keypad and computer screen. It’s a gift for everyone involved, and I’m so glad they had me back for another summer.

Q: What’s next after rail.? Where can we see you for the rest of the season?
A: You’ll find me over at the Arden Theatre. Two days after rail. closes I’ll be starting rehearsals for their production of Tiny Beautiful Things which will play in the Arcadia theater this fall, and I’ll be heading back to their main stage in the spring to play Stella in A Streetcar Named Desire.

Q: What roles and/or shows have you enjoyed being a part of the most so far in your career? 
A: Riley Walter in NPL’s 27. Irina in Three Sisters. Honey in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. Henry V in Henry V.

Q: You’re based in Philly. What are some of your favorite things to do in the city?
A: I like to sit in a coffee shop and read, I like to go to Jinxed and pretend I can afford their beautiful furniture. I’m a homebody, so I guess my favorite thing to do in the city is to stay home. 

rail. is written and co-directed by Zac Kline, co-directed by Rachel Dart, and features performers Emilie Krause and Harry Watermeier. The show is produced by Missing Bolts Productions. www.railtheplay.com.

Tickets ($16) are on sale via FringeArts here. rail. will play at the Club from September 20 through September 27, 2019, as part of the FringeArts Festival.

Visit www.emiliekrause.com to learn more about Emilie and her work in film, theatre, and photography.

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