By Cynthia Tong; Photo by Richard Bowditch
As we countdown to opening night in March, we are introducing our PlayCo audience to the actors who will be gracing the stage for our upcoming production, Recent Alien Abductions.
You may have seen Yetta Gottesman on the stage in New York City in: Underneath My Bed (Rattlestick Theater) The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (World Premiere, The Public Theater written by Stephen Adly Guirgis/ dir. Philip Seymour Hoffman). She has also appeared in several TV and Film productions, as well as regional theater. In Recent Alien Abductions, she will be playing Beba. You can keep up with Yetta (and join her on her crusade to save the dogs of Puerto Rico) on her Instagram (@yettita).
You have such diversity in your background – born in Puerto Rico, raised in Brazil, of Jewish descent and now splitting your time between New York, Los Angeles and Puerto Rico. How do your experiences and background influence your work?
I think it has made me a more fluid person. I have experienced cultural nuance and that has taught me how we are all different yet the same. I notice the details, the in betweens. How the differences become the same. I hope that comes through in my work as an actress.
Tell us more about your connection to Puerto Rico, the setting of our upcoming production.
I was born in Puerto Rico and at the age of four, moved to Brazil with my family because of my dad’s job. We moved back to Puerto Rico when I was in 10th grade and I finished high school there, did my first year of college there at the University of Puerto Rico, then transferred to college here and moved to New York. I have always considered Puerto Rico my home. I am currently based there now, since 2016, but I bounce around a lot for work. We were there for Irma and Maria and that was a very dark time (literally) for us, but we came through the other side. No matter where I live, Puerto Rico will always be home for me. I can’t explain it. It’s a very deep connection. My mom and my family are in San Juan, which is maybe why I have such an attachment. It runs deep.
You’ve been in productions off-Broadway and regionally, as well as on the screen in both films and TV shows. Do you have a favorite medium of storytelling, and if so, why?
It’s hard to pick a favorite because they are all so different and satisfying in their own way. I will say that theater is the most immediate form of storytelling for me, where the story is experienced at the same moment for everyone in the room and everyone is changed by it. As an actor on stage you feel the audience and it’s an immediate connection. It’s a communal experience. I have been working mostly in TV and Film the last couple of years and I missed the theater. There is really nothing like it. You get to tell the story from beginning to end in one performance and although the story is the same the performance is never the same because once that moment is passed, it’s no longer yours, it’s everyone’s. It’s fresh every night, it’s slightly different every night. It’s exhilarating. I also love story telling like the Moth and This American Life (I am a podcast junkie) because it feels very collective to me. Their stories are my stories. It brings it all together for me. TV and Film are a different animal. It takes a different kind of focus. I have been mostly working on TV and Film for the last couple of years and I love the medium and booking the jobs, (of course!) but I have been wanting to do a play for a while now, and I am very happy to be able to work with Jorge and this cast on RAA.
Outside of acting, what are your other passions in life? Based on your social media posts, it seems like you are an animal lover!
I am an animal lover. We have adopted three dogs and they have changed our lives. I am a better person because of them. My partner, Jonathan, and I adopted our first dog Buster in July of 2017. He was a senior Boston Terrier and we found him at the Humane Society in Puerto Rico. He was overlooked for adoption because he was an older dog and he had heart worm. He was with us through November of 2018 – he had an aggressive form of cancer and we had to put him to sleep as his quality of life was quickly disappearing. We tried everything we could to help him, but the cancer was too aggressive. It’s such a heart wrenching decision to make, it’s awful, sad and I still can’t talk about it without tearing up. I miss him all the time.
Jonathan and I made a promise that we would always adopt a senior dog as many are overlooked. To give them a loving home and a dignified last couple of years is very important to us. When we are ready, we will adopt another senior dog. For now we have Luna, a 6-year-old Boston Terrier, and Santiago, a two-year-old Jack Russell Terrier I rescued from the street. Jonathan and I FaceTime daily so I can get my doggie fix. We have also involved my mom, she has fostered two dogs in her home so it’s a family affair! There is a huge need for animal rescue and adoption in Puerto Rico. If you are reading this and want to help, find me on Instagram (@yetita) and I can help you help the dogs of Puerto Rico.
Regarding alien abductions, do you believe in aliens or life beyond this earth?
Absolutely. Both. I can’t really offer a blip on this, this is a longer answer, but yes, we are not the only ones and because we don’t necessarily see it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.