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The Boston Globe

Theater & art

Rise

Sophie von Haselberg embraces the challenge of acting

Sophie von Haselberg.

Matthew Cavanaugh for The Boston Globe

Sophie von Haselberg.

Age: 26

Hometown: New York

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Think of: Her mother, Bette Midler.

What caught our eye: An MFA candidate about to enter her third year at Yale School of Drama, von Haselberg will appear in Berkshire Theatre Group’s production of “The Cat and the Canary’’ in August.

Lightbulb moment: “I was living in Shanghai and working for an advertising agency, and I was going into work every day and not being able to concentrate during meetings because I was too busy fantasizing about being an actor. I knew if I didn’t try it I would be really miserable. So I moved back to New York and basically started taking classes and auditioning and all that stuff, and attempting to work.’’

Biggest thrill: “I did this show, ‘Vieux Carre,’ by Tennessee Williams, where I played this 80-year-old woman starving to death. Needing to transform into a character who’s so different from myself was so much fun, so exciting. I gave it my all. It was the most complete transformation I’d been given the task to do up to that point.’’

Biggest surprise: “The biggest surprise would probably be my love of Shakespeare, which was completely unexpected. I spent the first year of school dreading working on Shakespeare and being really freaked out by it. My first day of our Shakespeare class in my second year was the whole class reading the epilogue to ‘The Tempest’ together. It was the most moving, electrifying text. Since then it’s become a real love of mine, which is surprising given how scared I was.’’

Inspired by: “What inspires me most in terms of acting is the indomitability of the human spirit, the drive that people have to survive regardless of their circumstances.’’

Aspires to: “Hmm. I wouldn’t say that I aspire to any career goal specifically at this point. I hopefully have a lot of it ahead of me. But just to do work that I’m excited by, to have a long career, and to work with people — directors, actors, playwrights — who challenge me and make me want to do better work.’’

For good luck: “I have this heart-shaped locket that my parents gave me that I wear all the time. They gave it to me when I was 16. I’m knocking on my head as we speak, hoping that it’s still bringing me luck.’’

What people should know: “Well, I am a founding member of a new theater company called Old Sound Room that I started with 11 other Yale School of Drama students and graduates. We just finished our first show, ‘Old Sound Room Lear.’ So look out for us, I guess. Look us up!’’

Coming soon: Von Haselberg will portray Susan Sillsby, an alternately caustic and charming character in “The Cat and the Canary,’’ John Willard’s 1922 whodunit, which is set in a haunted mansion. The production will be staged at the Unicorn Theatre, Stockbridge, Aug. 1-24.

Links: www.oldsoundroom.com, www.berkshiretheatregroup.org

DON AUCOIN

Don Aucoin can be reached at aucoin@globe.com.

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