Star of Upcoming Mainstage Play “Bulrusher” Talks Title Role, Film Dreams and Physicality on Stage


Moire Kiyingi, FCLC ’ 13, stars as the title character in “Bulrusher.” (Anthony Gong/The Observer)

Published: February 16, 2011

Beginning on Feb. 23, the Fordham University Theatre Company will be staging an adaptation of Eisa Davis’s Pulitzer Prize-nominated play “Bulrusher.” The play, according to director Dawn Saito, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) artist in residence, is a manifesto for “cross-cultural love, despite and in the face of, the obstacles of the time.” Set in Boonville, California in 1955, “Bulrusher” introduces a diverse cast of characters, all of whom are attempting to find themselves during a period of American history stained by segregation and bigotry. The Observer caught up with one of the play’s leads, Moire Kiyingi, FCLC ’13, to learn more about the production and her role as the title character, Bulrusher.

The Observer: What can you tell us about the play?

Moire Kiyingi: Well, the play is very grounded in nature, which appealed to me. The character Bulrusher is a very spiritual young woman, trying to find her way in difficult times. As a young child, her mother placed her in a basket and sent her down the Navarro River, and for the rest of the play, Bulrusher has a very spiritual connection to the river—it’s her sanctuary, the place where she can escape from all the harsh realities around her and simply connect.

Observer: What attracted you to the role of Bulrusher?

MK: I read the part and immediately thought the character was really original. I felt as though I had a real connection to her, and I knew that this was a role I wanted to pursue. It was my first audition for a Fordham mainstage play, and I was surprised to get the starring role. I think Dawn [Saito] saw that I had a certain quality that fit the character of Bulrusher, and that I, in a way, could connect to her. Eisa Davis’s writing is also very good—many of the play’s characters speak in a strange sort of dialect called Boontling, which is very beautiful. While Bulrusher does not speak in Boontling, she does use poetry to express herself, especially when she is alone by the river.

Observer: Let’s talk about you for a little. When did you first start acting?

MK: My first role was in ninth grade, when I was in a play called “Among Friends in Clutter.” It was a small role, but afterwards, I immediately knew that this was something I wanted to pursue. Acting feels very natural to me, and it is something I hope to continue doing going forward. I love the work of actresses like Sandra Bullock and Meryl Streep and hope one day to cross over into film. That’s the ultimate goal. But for now, I’m happy doing what I’m doing.

Observer: What should audiences expect when they come see “Bulrusher?”

MK: I think they should expect a good show. Beautiful colors, lots of poetry and lots of physicality. By physicality, I mean the movements we make on stage, physically interpreting the words with our bodies. It is an important part of the play, and really, of acting in general. The rest of the cast is also very good, and our rehearsals have been great. We’ve just been experimenting and discovering different physicalities with each other. I look forward to performing on stage with them in front of an audience. We have put a lot of hard work into the play and it will be great to see it all come together.

Observer: Are you nervous?

MK: Not so much nervous as excited. It’s my first mainstage performance and there is a lot of pressure, but I’m in good hands. Dawn and the rest of the cast really make me feel at ease, but I know it won’t be easy. I would call it excited-nervous. Butterflies, you know?