Rachel Zake considers herself an actor-writer. A budding playwright who got her start onstage as a 9-year-old in professional and community theater, she taught English in Madrid for a year after college, then moved to LA. In Hollywood, the Pepper Pike native earned TV and movie roles in Private Practice, Grey’s Anatomy and This is 40. Zake, who returned to Cleveland in 2014, serves as director for Playmakers Youth Theatre and debuts her play Hurricane Sandy: A Tale of Revelation Jan. 20 at Playwrights Local’s Roundtable Series, a development workshop that presents plays in progress.
Q: Has your time as an actress helped with playwriting?
A: The way I write is by visualizing characters first, scenes second. I imagine my characters acting out different scenarios and their reactions. When I act, I create my own backstory for my character.
Q: Why did you focus the play on Hurricane Sandy?
A: I love horror movies and am always looking for a good psychological thriller, but I was sick of seeing: “We’re lost in the middle of the woods and we lost service.” So I thought, When was there an actual time without cell service and access to help? … Because of the flooding, rescue vehicles couldn’t get in or out. People were looting. It was this time where it really was that dangerous.
Q: How will it be seeing this work on stage for the first time?
A: I’ll get to hear and see what works and what doesn’t. It’s exciting to see a moment come together and see that moment crystallize for the actors and audience as reality.