Orlando with Looking for Lilith Theatre (2016)
Interview by Keith Waits
Entire contents are copyright © 2020 by Keith Waits. All right reserved.
V Reibel has worked in Louisville with Savage Rose Classical Theatre Company, The Liminal Playhouse, Looking for Lilith Theatre Company, Theatre , and The Frazier Museum, where they wrote and performed for five years. A graduate of Bellarmine University, Reibel obtained an MFA from the University of Houston’s Professional Actor Training Program and has returned to Louisville to work in TV, film, theatre, and print.
1. Were you scheduled to be doing any shows that are postponed/canceled?
I’ve had some work at Commonwealth Theatre Center that became postponed by COVID-19, but no scheduled shows were postponed or canceled.
2. When not on stage, what other work are you doing?
I do a myriad of things. When you’re an actor, the work doesn’t stop. There’s always something you can be working on or towards. I teach and coach acting and dialects at the Audition Room in Butchertown. I’m a drag king by the name of Vic Leon–I perform at Play. I’m on the ART team at CTC where we play children for social workers in training. I’m always working on some audition piece, I practice guitar, juggle, run, do yoga, write, and read. And of course, there’s TikTok… which I spend a fair amount of time on.
3. More recently, you have started to identify as a non-binary actor. Tell us about that journey?
After I graduated from the University of Houston’s PATP in the summer of 2019, I went to Pride with my partner. Now, I have been to Pride before so this wasn’t my first rodeo. But I was standing in line for a drink when the person behind me said something that caught my attention. I can’t remember exactly what they said, but I laughed and smiled at them and they laughed and smiled at me. I noticed how they presented themselves and their non-binary pins on their jacket. There was something about them that reminded me of myself. Something clicked into place. I didn’t know what it was then, but the next morning, I thought about that same person and why there was such a likeness and an energy between me and them. Then it hit me: I’m non-binary too. It was so easy for me to accept because I knew and felt in my being how True it was, how I finally had a name for what I had felt for so long, and how it gave me a sense of profound relief and happiness. I cut my hair (again), bought a binder, started really going by V., using they/them pronouns, and ever since then, I’ve been trying to live my truth.
4. What kind of professional challenges, if any have resulted from that?
I’m still trying to figure out the auditioning thing as a non-binary actor. In the beginning months after I came out, I was still going for female-presenting roles as well as non-binary roles. But now, I’m starting to feel like I lean more towards male-presenting and non-binary roles, but even that could change next year. It’s all very fluid. I can’t really explain this shift in myself, I can only follow what feels right.
Looking at breakdowns can be tough when the only options are male and female characters. Some breakdowns will list “any gender” which frees me up but sometimes not having an option where I fit in can be hard. So then I try to choose the role in the breakdown that I feel best describes what I can do.
5. Do you feel like it gives you more freedom?
Yes, it gives me the freedom to play any gender really. But it still has to be the right role for me. And I have to be comfortable. Because gender is inherently performative on stage and in real life, I can go to either side of the binary or beyond it as a genderqueer non-binary person. That feels good to me.
6. What are some roles in which you are wanting to be cast?
Callie (Stop Kiss)
7. What have been some of your favorite roles so far?
I played Orlando in Orlando with Looking for Lilith. It’s the first role that comes to my mind because it was really the first role I got to play a genderfluid character on stage. Then I played Vanda in Venus in Fur with The Liminal Playhouse. Exhilarating to say the least–that was another role that combined the masculine and feminine. Also, Rosalind and Viola are on the list. I did both at UH during my time there. And I can’t forget Rosencrantz at Houston Shakespeare Festival. That one was a blast. I wore a purple suit and tie. I felt totally in my element.
8. Have you worked anywhere else besides Louisville?
I worked in Houston while I was finishing up my degree. I spent a summer at Houston Shakes doing Hamlet and Comedy of Errors.
9. How is working in Louisville different?
When I was in Houston, I was focused on my training. Now that I’m out and in Louisville, I’ve been really trying to focus on moving forward in my career. I joined Equity and took the opportunity to drive to auditions in Cincinnati, Chicago, and Indianapolis. That’s a great perk about living in Louisville–you’re close to a lot of markets. Driving can be a bit of a pain but right now, that’s the game. I may move to LA in a few years, but for now, Louisville is my home and it has got a great arts community, with Actors Theatre being a major part of that. I was fortunate enough to be able to work with them last year. They are really moving forward in developing an inclusive environment for all kinds of actors, and that’s something I hadn’t experienced before working there.
10. What has been your quarantine playlist?
I’ve been listening to a lot of rap and hip/hop + some country. The Weeknd, Roddy Rich, Jack Harlow, DaBaby, Justin Beiber, Luke Bryan, and Jason Aldean. But I’m a total music junkie–the list goes on and on!
11. What book is on your bedside table now?
If the Buddha Dated: A Handbook for Finding Love on a Spiritual Path, by Charlotte Kasl
12. What are you dying to do that you have been unable to do during quarantine?
I’m craving adventure! I want to race go-karts with my partner and ride the roller coasters at Kentucky Kingdom. Also, I’m excited to be going down to South Carolina in June to visit my family, including my little brother who is 8. I miss him so much!
Keith Waits is a native of Louisville who works at Louisville Visual Art during the days, including being the host of LVA’s Artebella On The Radio on WXOX 97.1 FM / ARTxFM.com, but spends most of his evenings indulging his taste for theatre, music and visual arts. His work has appeared in LEO Weekly, Pure Uncut Candy, TheatreLouisville, and Louisville Mojo. He is now Managing Editor for Arts-Louisville.com.