‘Serious Actors’ do Comedy Too

Long-distance process: Fringe Artist Natasha Mercado grafts her love of nature and clown in Tree

“I think that’s why we go to the theatre—to engage with each other.”

“I was a serious actor in college,” Natasha Mercado recalls. “But even when I was doing my serious acting, people would be laughing. And I liked that.”

That led Natasha to comedy, and now, to Fringe as well: she started taking sketch and improv classes with the Upright Citizens Brigade before moving to Los Angeles, where she discovered the joyful connections that come with clown work.

“That is what I’ve always been chasing,” she says. “I love the feeling of changing the air in the room. I think that’s why we go to the theatre—to engage with each other. That collective consciousness Petri-dish of everyone in the room responding to the same thing is what makes it exciting.”

Natasha’s touring Tree, her first solo show, across the 2023 Fringe Festival circuit. Inspired by the 2020 Bobcat wildfires in California and Mercado’s love of people and nature, it casts her as a tree pretending to be a human, engaging audiences in a mix of games show antics and deeper philosophical explorations.

Artist Natasha Mercado is holding a prop tree stump while looking at the camera and smiling.
Artist Natasha Mercado

The ideas had been percolating in Natasha’s mind, but after doing The Artist’s Way—a self-guided course on creativity— she started developing them into a show.

“That got my butt into gear,” she recalls. “If I appreciated and believed in myself as an Artist, I would finally let myself do this one-woman show, because that’s been a dream of mine.”

To help create Tree, Natasha reached out to Deanna Fleysher (creator of Fringe hit Butt Kapinski) to direct. They worked on it together at a distance during the pandemic—when few people were sharing any space, and certainly not in theatres. But that also meant geographic distance wasn’t an issue for collaboration: if everyone’s already chatting over video screens, why not hone a creative project, too?

”I still haven’t met Deanna in person,” Natasha laughs.

Now, having Tree out in the world, and finding connections with different audiences every night, is an opportunity Natasha seems incredibly grateful for.

“When I go to different places—even in the same place on a different night—the audience has its own personality I can hear behind the curtain,” she says. “I was worried when I finished it, ‘Oh no, now I’m gonna have to do this show over and over again. That’s gonna be so boring.’ But it’s not. I have so many discoveries every night. It’s humbling in that way.”

Make sure to buy your tickets to this year’s Festival here after August 9th at 12Noon! 

If You Liked This Blog Post, You Might Enjoy These: