nytheatre.com q&a preview by Philip Emeott
June 5, 2013
What is your job on this show?
Director and actor..
What is your show about?
This outdoor production of RICHARD III from Boomerang Theatre Company is a lean, energetic telling of the bloody quest of the ultimate antihero to occupy the only place in the world he feels he belongs: the seat of ultimate power.
Where were you born? Where were you raised? Where did you go to school?
I was born in St. Paul, Minnesota. When I was five we moved to a small town in Florida called Titusville, between Disney World and the Space Center. My grandparents helped my mother raise my brothers and me, and everyone encouraged my acting. There's a great community theater there, Titusville Playhouse, with an excellent kids' program. We'd get time off of school to perform for other kids on field trips, which is a rush when you're ten. By high school I was working on shows with main company and when I was a senior in high school I played Algernon in EARNEST and Seymour in LITTLE SHOP. But I was also really into art, so I started at Flagler College, in St. Augustine, Florida, as a Graphic Design major. In my first semester I was cast in THE GHOST SONATA, so I stopped fighting it and switched to Drama and Communication. Maybe that explains why I still try to do a little bit of everything: directing, design, et cetera.
Who is more important in the theater: the actor, the playwright, or the director?
They always say the playwright is king in theater, the director is king in film. I think both are true in terms of whether a work stands the test of time. The nature of theater both as literature and as a series of living, breathing moments means the deck is stacked against directors and actors there. You either saw it or you didn't... but if it gets published you can enjoy it forever on other levels. But skilled actors and directors can make so-so plays feel vital and make great plays greater. As a director my job is interpretive as well as creative. You're an advocate for the other stakeholders: the author's intentions, the actors' processes, the audience's experience and good will. But you also have to have a vision and advocate for that, because the vision creates cohesion. You hope.
Why did you want to write/direct/produce/act in/work on this show?
I've directed or acted in a few of Boomerang's park Shakespeare productions and wasn't even expecting to direct it this year, but Tim Errickson always asks in ways that are hard to refuse. I was kind of scared to say "Richard the Third," but he actually brought it up, so that was that. I told him I didn't know which I wanted to do more: direct or play Richard, and I sheepishly suggested I could do both. It was kind of a running joke for six months, then he made me commit. It's a challenge but a a fun one. And the cast, crew and my directorial support (Sara Thigpen, Sarah Norris, Christina Ashby) are super. They keep me very humble and on my game. Playing Richard always appealed to me because he's an outsider, up against so many obstacles,and he's just unstoppable. Sometimes he crosses the line just as an existential challenge to himself and others.Sometimes he does it because he's out of control. He goes back-and-forth from being an unfeeling killer to being very human and fragile. As an actor you have to relate to his alienation and his desire to own and to belong. Directing RICHARD III is a great opportunity for no-holds-barred creative choices. We've got swords, technology, ghosts, combat boots, princesses, hunchbacks, you name it. Bring the family. Of course there's also undeniably good timing with Richard's skeleton being found. We talked about working in all kinds of stuff to make direct reference to it, but it's such a complex and rich play already that it just felt like painting on too much.
Groucho, Chico, Harpo, or Zeppo?
Chico. He has my favorite line, "You can't fool me. There's no such-a thing as-a Sanity Clause."
If you had ten million dollars that you had to spend on theatrical endeavors, how would you use the money?
Ten million, huh? Some would go toward a sweet space to house Boomerang, Oracle, and other great companies, where we'd finally do those Frank Kuzler and Isaac Rathbone magnum opuses. If there's anything left, some would go to my alma mater. Or maybe I'll just buy a little theater down in Florida.