May 20, 2018
Arts & Entertainment
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  • Erika Rose (right) worked with Lake Shore Elementary second-grade students Payla Szymanski and Ashton Surguy on reading stage directions in Leigh Catterton’s arts and humanities class.
    Photo by Maya Pottiger
    Erika Rose (right) worked with Lake Shore Elementary second-grade students Payla Szymanski and Ashton Surguy on reading stage directions in Leigh Catterton’s arts and humanities class.
  • Erika Rose watched Lake Shore Elementary students work on stage direction and script reading during her residency from April 3-9.
    Photo by Maya Pottiger
    Erika Rose watched Lake Shore Elementary students work on stage direction and script reading during her residency from April 3-9.
  • Erika Rose worked with second-grade students at Lake Shore Elementary to highlight scripts and distinguish stage directions.
    Photo by Maya Pottiger
    Erika Rose worked with second-grade students at Lake Shore Elementary to highlight scripts and distinguish stage directions.

Local Actress Comes Full Circle, Teaches Alongside Former Theater Instructor

Maya Pottiger
Maya Pottiger's picture
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April 17, 2018

A familiar face appeared at Lake Shore Elementary’s arts and humanities classes from April 3 to April 9.

Actress Erika Rose was an artist-in-residence in Leigh Catterton’s second- through fifth-grade classes. Rose, who has acted on stages all over the East Coast, helped students learn a variety of acting techniques. She worked with them on stage direction, reading scripts and confidence.

“[Catterton] really just let me go teach it the way I know and work with them the way I know how,” Rose said.

This isn’t the first time Catterton and Rose have been together in a classroom setting. Catterton was Rose’s theater teacher at High Point High School in Beltsville, Maryland.

They formed a bond during Rose’s time in school, and Catterton helped find scholarships for Rose. In the end, Rose received a full scholarship to the University of Maryland.

“She was opening doors for people,” Rose said. “That’s what she did for me, anyway. Opened the world to me.”

“I hope I went that extra mile for all of my students, but I could see a gift in Erika Rose,” Catterton said. “When a teacher encounters a talent like that, she or he just lets divine intervention kind of lead all opportunities, and I just hoped I was serving this child well.”

During her fourth year at UMD, Rose dropped out and moved to New York. After being so involved in UMD’s theater community and focusing her credits on theater classes, Rose hadn’t completed enough of her core classes to graduate on time.

About seven years later, Rose finished her degree at the University of Maryland University College.

In New York, Rose worked as a waitress and went to every audition she found in Playbill, a national theater magazine.

On a memorable night, Rose found her way into George C. Wolfe’s Tony party for “Topdog/Underdog.” At the party, she met Wolfe, Jeffrey Wright and Mos Def, and she got new insight into the industry.

“It was really interesting to see how the connections between people are how so many things happen,” Rose said. “It’s not just that audition and your big break.”

However, Rose wasn’t getting many acting opportunities in New York. She returned to Washington, D.C. for an audition that all of the city’s theaters attended. After performing her monologue for them, she started getting calls.

In D.C., Rose did a lot of work with the Kennedy Center, which is also where she earned her equity card.

“There were a lot of major writers from around the country who use the Kennedy Center as a Petri dish,” Rose said. She acted in roughly six world premieres at the Kennedy Center.

While doing theater for young audiences, Rose had the opportunity to work with “In the Heights” playwright Quiara Alegría Hudes.

In addition to the Kennedy Center, Rose has acted at Woolly Mammoth Theatre, Round House Theatre, the Shakespeare Theatre Company and Imagination Stage.

Rose has been nominated for two Helen Hayes awards, one of which she won. In 2011, she won the Outstanding Lead Actress award for her role as Hawa in “In Darfur” at Theatre J.

“I am most proud of the respect that I have in the business, that people trust me,” Rose said. “That I’ve been able to be a nice person throughout my career but also declared what I want and do what I want in the business.”

Through the rest of her career, Rose said she wants to stay open to learning, growing and challenging herself.

“When I was 18, I thought, ‘I’m gonna live, breathe and eat theater for the rest of my life and nothing else will be fulfilling and I’m not interested in any other profession ever,’” Rose said.

“Life is so much more expansive and wide and beautiful than that,” she continued. “These days, I’m interested in writing my own pieces, playwriting, [etc.]. There are lots of things I’m thinking about.”


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