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Daytime Royalty had the opportunity today to speak with Kate Mansi and Blake Berris about their new play, If All the Sky Were Paper, and about Days! For more information about the play, go to http://www.lexikatartists.com/if-all-the-sky-were-paper.html

How did you both get involved in this production?
Kate: My mother is producing the play as part of Lexikat Artists. She told me about it a while ago, and she said that it really moved her just hearing about it. When she started to get involved in it, the interesting that caught her attention was that the play wasn't specifically political. Itís more showing this very real humanistic element of war that I think people donít really see that often. It has a sense of humor, and thereís forgiveness and loneliness, and I think those are the stories we sort of miss. We tend to go towards these horror elements which are definitely there and present, but I think (this is shown) in a much more haunting way because you're seeing it through the eyes of a real person, and itís much more relatable. It caught my momís attention. She wanted to help them stage this reading at the Kirk Douglas Theater. Blake and I have worked together on Days obviously, and I just have such respect for his craft. I think heís so talented. It kind of all pieced together, right?

Blake: Kate recommended me, and then the casting director and the director and your mom, the producer reached out, and we started talking. It all kind of fell into place.

The play is about letters sent during wartime. Does someone read the letters and you act them out, or do you read them?
Kate: It's a staged reading. Someone is a narrator who is representative of Andrew Carroll, the author, and then as actors, Blake, and myself, and Laura Dern, and all these people that are reading take on the characters of the people that have written the letters.

So it's like (the play) Love Letters, except for war.
Blake: Thatís exactly right.

Can you give us an example of one of the stories in the letters?
Blake: Well, what I think is cool about the play is that every letter is like a time capsule. Itís different than historical fiction where thereís a playwright who is reimagining what someone who had written a letter might have said. These are actually letters from that time period, so it really is a glimpse into the way people thought, wrote, and related to one another in each of the various time periods, the various wars that the play delves into. So thereís everything from the most horrific elements of war to people being like, ďYou know, itís kind of boring out here!Ē to ďAre you cheating on me?Ē Itís every facet of what somebody might be going through during wartime.

Kate: Yes. You said that perfectly. I think that whatís really interesting for me in a lot of the letters Iíve read, even not the ones Iím doing myself. Itís interesting to get behind the psychology. They donít see themselves as being big heroes, and I think that when we take them off that pedestal for a minute and see that theyíre real people having real humanistic elements of fear and insecurity and vulnerability and bravery inside. I think itís a really interesting story, and one that hasnít really been told, but should be.

Is there any military history in either of your families?
Blake: Yes. Both of my grandfathers served, and my motherís father was actually taken captive in Germany during World War II. Actually, my dad was in the army after he went to UCLA.

Kate: I never knew that! Interesting... my story is kind of the same. My grandparents.... my father was drafted but couldnít actually go because of health reasons. I think that definitely helps color the story for us.

Is this your first large scale theater production?
Kate: For me, yes, it is.

Blake: Iím trying to think. Iím definitely a theater kid, like I grew up doing it. I did a professional production locally in Santa Barbara of the Sound of Music growing up.

Kate: Who were you?

Blake: Friedrich. I studied it in college, and thereís a pretty big playhouse at UCLA thatís a sizable theater, but I think the Kirk Douglas is the most prestigious venue Iíve set foot on.

Alright, letís move on to Days. Nickís murder mystery wrapping up. What can you tell us about the end of this story?

Kate: Is it out yet?

Today and Friday

Blake: Someone sent me a copy of the SOD article about it last week. I thought it was really the only thing that made sense. Itís always fun when they do a ďwhodunnitĒ or a ďwho shot JRĒ type mystery, but I think that was the only character that it truly made sense for her to have the follow through to do the deed. Nick had sort of psychologically trapped her to a point that that seemed like the only way out. Just knowing that it was going in that direction when I was still on the set, I think that was the right ending.

Was it always going in that direction?
Blake: No! I had to kind of do detective work on set to find out who the killer was. They werenít being very forthcoming, and nobody knew who the killer was. I knew that I was going to die.

Kate: But even that was a secret for a lot of the cast until the end.

Blake: Our executive producer, Lisa, asked me, ďAre you triple, triple, triple sure that you want to go? Because it might be for good. Wink wink.Ē And I was like, ďGotcha. Youíre threatening to kill me!Ē But thatís what I needed to do, and I knew that I was going out with a bang.

Gabiís role in the Daysaster is also coming out now. Tell us about Abigailís reaction to that.
Kate: Sheís always had a sort of a strange relationship with Gabi. Abby has the very strange friend instinct where sheís always sort of on to her, even with the Chad stuff. But she suppresses it because she wants to believe the best and she wants to believe that her friend is not who she really is. When she finally comes out with it, itís shocking and devastating and kind of confusing because itís not like once she finds out she has all this time to reframe her image of her best friend and who she is and then continue a relationship. She finds out and is sort of left by herself to process it in her own mind.

Thatís coming out in the next week, but what we really want to know is when the EJ/Abby reveal is coming out.
Kate: What do you want to know?
Is it going to happen?
Kate: What do you mean? The baby?

No. But what baby?
Kate: Well because everyone on twitter is always asking if sheís pregnant. Yesterday I was running half marathon and Iím in the middle of my run and this lady runs up to me and is like, ďSo are you pregnant or not?Ē I was like, ďWhat are you talking about?Ē I guess they never really followed through with that. Iím not. Thatís the question I get asked the most on twitter. ďAre you pregnant?Ē and Iíll be posing in a picture with a drink in my hand, and someone says, ďYou canít be drinking, youíre pregnant.Ē First of all, thatís not real! But the EJ and Abby thing. Youíll have to stay tuned and see what happens. How it comes out is going to be a very big shock for everybody.

What are your favorite scenes youíve done at Days?
Kate: Thatís really tough. I think there are different subsets. Romantically, I really enjoyed working with Casey Deidrick because those were really tender, special scenes with Abby and Chad when she was losing her virginity, and kind of maturing and becoming a woman with him. I really enjoyed when Abby went a little crazy with Austin. I had a lot of fun with it. It had a lot of layers. You never know when thatís going to come back for her. That was my favorite.

Blake: I really like the side of Nick that is calculating and manipulative and having to battle his own demons in the meantime. I liked the part where Nick was terrorizing Will. The first time around, when it was Chandler, we had some of these awesome back and forth scenes where heís relentless, terrorizing this poor guy all building toward the catharsis on the island where it comes out that he was raped. I thought that was pretty powerful.

Youíve also both had experiences with negative fan feedback. Tell us about that.

Blake: Yeah. I get a healthy stream of fan mail. Itís sizable. Itís not small. Itís not overwhelming, though. I get kind of a sick pleasure out of it. It means that the story is resonating with people, and they care. I think itís important for people to be invested in the show. Itís strange to me when they hate your character so much that they start associating you with the character. My favorite, and one of the strangest comments Iíve gotten, and itís happened quite a bit is when people say, ďYou need to be fired.Ē And I just think thatís a strange reaction to hating a character. Not, ďI hate your character and that character needs to go to hellĒ but instead ďYou the actor needs to be fired.Ē I really donít take it personally.

Literal mail?
Blake: Oh. Mostly on twitter, but some of it is real mail at the studio that they give to us.

So people do still do that.
Blake: If you can believe it.

What about you, Kate?
Kate: I think that being indifferent to your character is sort of a death trap, so I think itís good when people care enough to hate you or care enough to love yo. I got a lot of it with this whole EJ situation. Itís crazy. I posted a picture of a sunset once on my brotherís birthday and said ďHappy BirthdayĒ to him, and someone wrote ďYou whore!Ē and then went on about how I was destroying their family. My mom was new to Instagram, and she was like ďWhatís going on with your life?Ē So I had to sort of reframe that for her. I struggle with it because on the one hand, it sucks, but we give people this access to us, so I feel like sort of a fool complaining about it. Of course people have negative opinions, and that fine. It doesnít affect me and the way I live my life, and I donít think it should. So more power to you if that helps you to express that.

Is there anything else you want to tell us about?
Blake: I think weíve covered it. But stay tuned... Kate and I are in the process of working out an event. We'll let you know details when we have them!

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