Theatre Interview: Isabella Jane – Star-Crossed, Or An UFO She Couldn’t Resist

December 10, 2022




Star-Crossed is an original musical inspired by the life of one South Africa’s most eccentric daughters, Elizabeth Klarer, who claimed she was abducted by an alien from the foothills of the Drakensberg, transported to a Utopian planet in the Alpha Centauri System and had a child with her alien lover – all this during the height of apartheid! The piece centres on two unlikely people finding each other in extraordinary circumstances and forging a profound connection transcending, time, space, and South Africa’s oppressive apartheid laws. An interstellar love story for the ages. It stars Isabella Jane and Earl Gregory. Isabella discusses her work on the project.


Live performance: the thrill versus the nerves – where are you on that curve as a new show starts?

There is, without a doubt, always a thrill that comes with being on stage and creating new work. I am, however, insanely nervous! Which is no new feeling to me – I’m always been nervous before a show. This was definitely heightened for this piece, though, as it’s a big role in a brand new show! All I keep saying to myself in my head is what my mom told me as a kid before performing: “Nerves are fuel, use them”.


How do you find a balance during rehearsals or other preparation?

I make sure I sleep enough, eat well, and have an unhealthy amount of caffeine – I need to make sure my brain is on point. A big part of maintaining a balance in rehearsals (and life) for me is constantly working on my relationship with God. I find those quiet times in the mornings, Sunday sermons, and worship songs in the car helps tremendously to keep me grounded and focused.


In a best-case scenario, what are you looking for in a role? What is the main basis for that decision – the script, the people involved, the challenge to your skills, the impact (positive or negative) it might have on your life in general, or perhaps something else?

In a role, I look for things that I can relate to, so that I can bring a more authentic performance to the audience. I do enjoy a challenge! So something I can tackle vocally gets me excited. A big thing would also be the team – I love working with good people who create challenging and magical stories, both of stage and off.


Acting is often a vocation, a thing you can’t not do. How true is that for you now? Has it changed over the years – for practical, perhaps banal reasons? And how do you, or would you like to, keep your calling front and centre in your life?

I believe acting is therapy. For those who watch and for those who do. And as I’ve grown older, it’s become more and more important to me. Singing is the big thing for me, my first love in regards to my career, and what I’ve come to learn is that all of it, be singing or acting, is storytelling. I’d say that’s the addictive part, and it’s something I’ll always intentionally go out and do – tell stories, one way or another.


What are the toughest expectations to deliver on – all the way from the first audition to the end of the run?

The rehearsal period itself is tough – being present at every moment. When it comes to the stage, I give everything I have, every time, which is tough too… None of it is easy, which is also why I love it so much! Every day I walk into the room and I’m challenged, and I work hard. I wouldn’t change a thing.


Tell us about your current production, and what makes your character interesting to play?

Star+Crossed is one of the most interesting stories I’ve had the pleasure of reading and the privilege of playing in. It’s a brilliant and tragic love story against the backdrop of a very complicated time in South Africa. It’s unbelievably relevant and relatable on many levels. This character is interesting to me because her story is true and I can’t explain the honour it is to bring her story back to life in such a unique way. It’s uncanny – she was brought up in Natal, which is where I was born. She loved art and music, and clearly so do I. And one of the most interesting things is that my grandad actually went to one of her rallies and heard her speak!