Category: Interview

Actor Profile: All Hail the King (Lear). Roy Sillings has never been better as King Lear

Actor Profile: All Hail the King (Lear). Roy Sillings has never been better as King Lear

Roy Sillings has been a part of MCCT for years, playing many roles and challenging the actors that work with him to be better than they have ever been before. As Lear, Roy is every bit the mad king, bringing every part of Lear’s personality to the stage.

What made you audition for Lear?

I didn’t audition.  I was offered the part, probably because I’m old and foolish.

Why do you think this story matters for today’s audiences?

Many of the themes: political, social, psychological and philosophical are, for better or worse, especially relevant today.  It is in some ways a vast morality play commenting on almost every aspect of the human experience.  As one of the great monuments of Western literature, it is an uplifting testament to human creativity, and the heights to which the mind and art of man are capable.  In that sense, this profound tragedy encourages hope.

What new things have you learned as a result of this show?

Further admiration for Shakespeare’s skill as a dramatist.  An incredible amount of background and critical material on King Lear.  I learned just how long my hair and beard can grow in six months and how to pronounce “oeillade”.

Community/Civic theater is a unique challenge. What has been the hardest part of this show? the easiest?

The hardest part has probably been learning to control my pain at the necessary cuts. I understand it is absolutely impossible to do the play without considerable cropping, but in most cases, something wonderful is lost.  Fortunately, the play is so full of wonders, the loss is probably not felt except by those who love the play and know it well. I’m also a little worried about the physical and mental challenges of a role as huge as this.  At my age, things happen…or don’t. 

The easiest has been enjoying the company of everyone on the show.  The rehearsals are exciting and fun.  The schedule not too demanding.  Great cooperation and collaboration.

How did you get involved with MCCT?

Many years ago, walking through the park, I discovered an MCCT audition in progress and did it on a dare. Got a part. Made some great friends. Got addicted, especially to Shakespeare in the park. Wound up on the board.   

What do you do when you’re not rehearsing and memorizing Shakespeare?

Rehearse or memorize something else.  Read, watch the news (Arrgh!) or movies (Yeah!).  Write computer program at work and some for myself at home. Hang out with friends.

Why should audiences come to this show?

See 2 above. Also, because civic theatre, the product of voluntary effort and local contributions, has a unique charm. There’s something wonderful about watching a group doing something for no more than the love of it.  The limited means and warm-hearted inclusiveness inspire audience reactions ranging from amusement to genuine admiration. The performance in a real sense belongs to them. Coming to the show supports a unique and valuable asset of their community.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Thanks to everyone that made this show possible.

Come see Roy and the rest of the King Lear cast beginning October 12!

  • October 12, 13, 18, 19, and 20 at 7:00pm
  • October 14 at 3:00pm

Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center Rose Firebay.

Get your tickets today at mcct.yapsody.com.

Actor Profile: Marty Cusato joins MCCT as the Fool in King Lear!

Actor Profile: Marty Cusato joins MCCT as the Fool in King Lear!

Marty Cusato makes his MCCT debut in King Lear this weekend! We asked him why he joined MCCT and why Lear matters today.

What made you audition for Lear?

I wanted to get involved with a non-profit community-oriented arts organization.

Why do you think this story matters for today’s audiences?

It reflects the disintegration of the family/community when people put their own self-interest first.

What new things have you learned as a result of this show?

That Shakespeare’s style is to use 20 words when 5 or 6 would suffice.

Community/Civic theater is a unique challenge. What has been the hardest part of this show? the easiest?

The easiest is the instant rapport that was created with the rest of the cast and crew. The hardest is creating and/or understanding a character’s backstory in relation to the dialouge.

How did you get involved with MCCT?

Through a customer’s son and friend invoved in a previous project.

What do you do when you’re not rehearsing and memorizing Shakespeare?

I enjoy cooking, gardening, and sailing, and needless to say, work fulltime.

Why should audiences come to this show?

It’s a tragedy that seems to have something for everybody, not to mention the absolute dysfuction will make you feel better about our own family.

Come see Marty and the rest of the King Lear cast beginning October 12!

  • October 12, 13, 18, 19, and 20 at 7:00pm
  • October 14 at 3:00pm

Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center Rose Firebay.

Get your tickets today at mcct.yapsody.com.

Crew Profile: B. Stryker DeLong Creates Lear’s World with Fabric and Imagination.

Crew Profile: B. Stryker DeLong Creates Lear’s World with Fabric and Imagination.

B. Stryker DeLong has been behind the scenes and on stage with MCCT for years. We caught up with her amidst costuming and chaos to talk about why she supports local theater and how costuming helps shape the story.

What made you decide to lend your talents to this show?

I’ve worked with Steve Heise before and he asked me to do this Lear.  There are several actors in this production that I love to work with, so it was a go for me. I love working with MCCT because I find the freedom to experiment with different design concepts, different materials, and different ways of thinking of how these things help the actor create a character. 

What is the hardest part of being a part of this production?

The hardest part of this production for me is the timing.  August-October is the busiest time of year for me and finding the time necessary to get this show together along with my other time commitments has been difficult. However, this production team and cast have gone out of their way to accommodate my strange schedule.

How did you get started with MCCT?

A few years ago, a friend of mine was doing Shakespeare in the Park and asked me to help with costumes. I had been doing a lot of work with high school productions and thought it would be nice to work with adults for a change. 

What do you do when you’re not helping with shows like King Lear?

Unlike most of the people involved with MCCT, I am employed in the entertainment industry. I’ve been in theatre since I was 14 years old. These days, I am employed part-time at IU Auditorium with backstage hospitality and as a wardrobe person.  I also freelance as a costumer/costume designer. AND I belly dance with two different troupes here in Bloomington, The Caravanserai Dancers and Different Drummer Belly Dancers.

Why should people come see this production?

I believe that this production of Lear is going to be an exciting evening of theatre. I’ve watched the cast and crew work extremely hard to bring this story to life.

Come see B. Stryker Delong and the rest of the King Lear cast/crew beginning next Friday!

  • October 12, 13, 18, 19, and 20 at 7:00pm
  • October 14 at 3:00pm

Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center Rose Firebay.

Get your tickets today at mcct.yapsody.com.

Actor Profile: Gwen Livesay says goodbye to Bloomington with a Tour de Force as Cordelia in King Lear

Actor Profile: Gwen Livesay says goodbye to Bloomington with a Tour de Force as Cordelia in King Lear

Gwen Livesay has made the Bloomington Theater scene her home for several years. As she prepares to move after the close of the show, we talked to her about Cordelia, theater, and what it all means.

What made you audition for Lear? 

It’s one of Shakespeare’s most popular plays and one of his best tragedies. Cordelia is one of the strongest female characters in a Shakespeare play, and I was interested in playing that.

Why do you think this story matters for today’s audiences?

I think it matters because it shows how narcissism in a country’s leader can bring about the downfall of that country  Under our current administration, we’re seeing how that plays out.

What new things have you learned as a result of this show?

This show has challenged me as an actor in new ways. Cordelia isn’t onstage very much, but when she is, she has a very weighty presence. I’ve also learned that I’m really good at playing dead.

Community/Civic theater is a unique challenge. What has been the hardest part of this show? The easiest?

Surprisingly, learning the lines has been the hardest part. I’m usually quite good at memorizing lines, but this show has proven harder than usual. The easiest part for me is acting with a group of people I feel at ease with.

How did you get involved with MCCT?

Three years ago, I had a small role in Cymbeline, that year’s summer Shakespeare.  I’ve gradually worked my way up to playing more significant roles and even co-directed one play.

What do you do when you’re not rehearsing and memorizing Shakespeare?

I work at IU Varsity Shop in Assembly Hall.

Why should audiences come to this show?

It’s one of Shakespeare’s best plays.  It also has strong female characters and themes that are still relevant today.

Come see Gwen and the rest of the King Lear cast beginning next Friday!

  • October 12, 13, 18, 19, and 20 at 7:00pm
  • October 14 at 3:00pm

Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center Rose Firebay.

Get your tickets today at mcct.yapsody.com.

Crew Profile: Emily McGee Celebrates Her Directorial Debut with Uncertainty

Crew Profile: Emily McGee Celebrates Her Directorial Debut with Uncertainty

When Uncertainty came to life the first time, Emily McGee portrayed Werner Heisenberg. This time around, she is stepping behind the curtain to make this hilarious show her directorial debut. In her career, Emily has been an actress, costumer, props master, and so much more. Read on to find out why Uncertainty makes the perfect directorial debut, as well as why she loves Bloomington and MCCT.

 

How did you get involved in MCCT? What made you audition for this show?

 

I was first involved with MCCT back in 2013, I think?  I was cast as Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  I just became reacquainted with MCCT last year when I was cast in Travesties, which was also done at Oddball Fermentables.  I had taken a look at the upcoming season and realized that there was a deep need for some comedy, and it all just sort of clicked.

 

How long have you been acting/involved in theater?

 

I have had a 26-year love affair with theatre.  I was bitten by the theatre bug when I was in a production of The Music Man and here I am, over 130 productions later on and I still love it.

 

What do you do when you’re not rehearsing?

 

It is very rare that I am not rehearsing for something! When I’m not rehearsing, I can usually be found hanging out with my husband and my cats!

 

What has been an unexpected challenge of this production? 

 

This is officially my directorial debut.  I felt ready to really actually direct something; but, usually, when people just start out directing, they usually pick a show with 2-4 actors.  It didn’t occur to me until I was setting up the scripts and water for the table read that I took on an ensemble show with 9 actors!

 

What has been most rewarding? 

 

I am humbled by my cast.  Every day they come to rehearsal with something more to offer and it just blows my mind!  I have also enjoyed watching actual friendships form amongst them.  There are so many moments that are coming out of the script that are fueled with a genuine care for each other.  That’s not a thing that can be directed, and it is just a wonderful thing to see.

 

Why should audiences come to see Uncertainty?

 

Nick has crafted a script that is ridiculously funny and sometimes heart-breaking in its way, but in the end, I feel like the play has something really profound to say about friendships or the family that you choose for yourself. It is just so rare to see a well-crafted comedy that actually has a strong message at its core.

 

What are your top three dream roles?

 

Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Blanche Dubois in Streetcar Named Desire

 

You acted in this production before directing it. How are the two different? 

 

Oh my gosh! EVERYTHING IS DIFFERENT! When I first did the show, I was just getting into acting in theatre that was not attached to any kind of music.  I had been doing a lot of musical theatre and opera, so this was my first shot at ‘straight theatre’.  I don’t even think that it occurred to me that I would have wanted to direct at that point.  I played Heisenberg when I acted in it and loved every minute. Directing has been a new and exciting challenge.

 

 

Catch the show at Oddball Fermentables
  • Sunday, September 9 at 2:00pm
  • Monday, September 10 at 7:00pm
  • Tuesday, September 11 at 7:00pm
Actor Profile: Mike Milam goes from MCCT Supporter to Cast Member in His Acting Debut

Actor Profile: Mike Milam goes from MCCT Supporter to Cast Member in His Acting Debut

After years of supporting MCCT behind the scenes, Mike Milam braves the stage as Alonso in The Tempest. We asked him about why he made the transition from proud supporter to actor, and how his knowledge of Shakespeare adds to this production of The Tempest.

How did you get involved with MCCT?

I became involved in MCCT because my daughter, Jennifer Whitaker, is on the board, and I and my wife, Pam, have been supporters for several years. Pam is also involved in MCCT matters, working on props, and, in fact, my grandson, William Whitaker, has played in several MCCT productions and in the present one.

How long have you been acting?

About a month. This is my maiden voyage. I cannot even recall being on stage in grammar school although I may have been once in that distant past.

What do you do when you aren’t rehearsing Shakespeare?

My day job is Associate Professor of Comparative Literature and Director of International Programs at the University of Indianapolis. After teaching ancient and modern drama, including the Bard, for a number of years, I decided to take a whack at Shakespeare, so to speak. I am on sabbatical this summer and next year, so after the Tempest, I will be reading, writing, working around the house, and relaxing for some time.

What has been the hardest part of this production?

Having taught Shakespeare in class, the language with which I am not unfamiliar proves not an encumbrance. However, speaking the lines is a challenge. I found out—and how sharp the point of this remembrance is!—that memorizing lines without speaking them aloud as one does the blocking is impossible.

What has been the most rewarding?

Seeing and being involved in making Shakespeare come alive on stage from the static existence of the page. When we study drama in class, we are concerned with structure, theme, historical context, language and such literary considerations. Being involved in performance has given me insights into what I teach that are exciting and revelatory.

Why should Bloomington audiences come out to see The Tempest?

Because we are going to knock their socks off! They shall weep! They shall laugh! They shall leave enlightened!

They shall leave cathartic! There will be moments of pathos. Acrobatics! Dionysian revelry. Levitation of levity! Tragedy merrily averted. Stunning visual effects. Maybe, just maybe, we shall collectively find out how the genius of tragedy and comedy are one as Socrates so tantalizingly suggests at the conclusion of The Symposium. Now, who would possibly want to miss that?

Come see Mike and the rest of the 2018 Shakespeare in the Park cast and crew May 31-June 3 at Waldron Hill Buskirk Park (formerly Third Street Park).

  • Thursday-Saturday shows are at 7:00pm, with a pre-show performance of Tempest in a Teacup at 6:45pm.
  • The Sunday matinee is at 3:00pm with a 2:45pm preshow.

As always, Shakespeare in the Park is free!

Actor Profile: As Ferdinand, Caleb Curtis Explores Bravery, Love and Loss

Actor Profile: As Ferdinand, Caleb Curtis Explores Bravery, Love and Loss

MCCT newcomer Caleb Curtis brings to life Ferdinand, the Prince of Naples, in The Tempest. We sat down with him before his MCCT debut to talk about dream roles, Ferdinand’s love and uncertainty, and what makes being a part of Shakespeare in the Park is really like.
How did you get involved with theater?
A friend of mine who was a part of Monroe County Civic Theater in the past heard that I was looking to be in a show before I went to Interlochen Camp of the Arts for the rest of the summer and suggested that I audition. So I did, and here I am!
How have you approached the role of Ferdinand?
Ferdinand is the Prince of Naples, and with that comes a massive amount of responsibility! I believe that Ferdinand is very reluctant to accept this position in life, and because of that has a supreme lack of confidence in himself and his abilities. Ariel mentions to Prospero that Ferdinand was the first to LEAP from the boat when it wrecked, and to me, that sounds like a man who is afraid. Throughout the course of the play, when Ferdinand speaks of himself, he is either building himself up to an amusing rate or tearing himself down, which I think supports the fact that he is very insecure. Miranda is not only the love of his life but through his love for her, he finds a strength that he never knew he had and she gives him the confidence that might help him one day accept his position in life.
What’s it like rehearsing each night in the park?
It allows me to absorb some vitamin D! In all seriousness, I really enjoy the ability to rehearse outside, considering most of my rehearsals take place in a cold dark theater. Sure, it gets hot sometimes, but the heat and the surroundings of the park really lend itself to this play! And for being in the middle of downtown Bloomington, this park is extremely beautiful!
What are your top three dream roles?
Edmond From A Long Day’s Journey Into Night, Christopher from the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, and a tie between Ned Weeks from The Normal Heart and Prior from Angels in America.
Why should Bloomington audiences come out to “The Tempest”?
This production of The Tempest is extremely immersive! The space that we find ourselves in, the nature of the play, and the way our director Rory has blocked this show takes the play off the stage and puts it right in front of the audience! I think this is a timely play that tackles many important themes including love, abuse of power, displacement, dealing with feeling alone, and even facing death. And, you even get a good laugh once in awhile! This cast is really doing the best they can to make this a memorable version of this frequently done play, and I think the work we’ve put in shows!
What do you hope the audience takes away from this production?
I hope audiences are able to identify with some aspects of these characters and the quirks and fears that they have! I hope the audience is able to receive the needed message that this play provides that Shakespeare has wrapped in a bow of magic, charm, and humor.

Come see Caleb and the rest of the 2018 Shakespeare in the Park cast and crew May 31-June 3 at Waldron Hill Buskirk Park (formerly Third Street Park).

  • Thursday-Saturday shows are at 7:00pm, with a pre-show performance of Tempest in a Teacup at 6:45pm.
  • The Sunday matinee is at 3:00pm with a 2:45pm preshow.

As always, Shakespeare in the Park is free!

Designer Profile: Jacy Harper Brings The Tempest to Life Through Costume

Designer Profile: Jacy Harper Brings The Tempest to Life Through Costume

As opening night for The Tempest draws near, we caught up with Jacy Harper, our costume designer for the show.
You’re a student right now, what are you studying?
I am majoring in Theatre with a minor in education.
How did you get into theater?
I got into theatre when I was in 5th or 6th grade and got to see our high school perform Into the Woods. After that, I was dead set on being a part of that.
What sparked your interest in costuming?
When I was in 8th grade I got my first sewing machine from my aunt and I had always wanted to make my own clothes. However, when I got into high school I found that making elaborate costumes for cosplay is way more fun than ordinary clothing. And because I’m already involved in theater, I was waiting for my chance to work on costumes for a show.
Do you have any favorite inspirations that contributed to your designs?
I feel that for this show specifically, I took a lot of inspiration from nature, as cliche as that sounds. I’ve been really obsessed with people/creatures mixed with Earth. After talking about color palettes, I thought this would be a good show to pull that into. Especially with the characters Caliban and Ariel.
Off of that, do you have any favorite pieces in this production?
With that said I think that Caliban, Ariel, and the Goddess costumes are my favorite pieces along with Prospero’s coral ruff.
Anything you don’t want the audience to miss?
I don’t want the audience to miss the Bloomington logo on the back of Prospero’s cloak.
How do think this show will connect to the Bloomington community?
I think that this show is very connecting because we have people of all ages and backgrounds in the show itself and we invite people of all ages and backgrounds to see the show as well and have aspects that everyone will enjoy. Especially with the children putting on the Tempest in a teacup. I also think that having a dementia-friendly performance is really great for the community.

Come see Jacy’s handiwork and the rest of the 2018 Shakespeare in the Park cast and crew May 31-June 3 at Waldron Hill Buskirk Park (formerly Third Street Park).

  • Thursday-Saturday shows are at 7:00pm, with a pre-show performance of Tempest in a Teacup at 6:45pm.
  • The Sunday matinee is at 3:00pm with a 2:45pm preshow.

As always, Shakespeare in the Park is free!

Actor Profile: Meet “The Tempest’s” Caliban: Rene Llewellyn

Actor Profile: Meet “The Tempest’s” Caliban: Rene Llewellyn

Rene Llewellyn isn’t new to performing but is a relatively new member of MCCT. Read on to discover a little more about Rene’s journey to the local stage, why they believe civic theater is important to the Bloomington community, and why this version of Shakespeare’s The Tempest matters so much in today’s world.

How long have you been acting?

Unofficially, since I was three years old and delivered a compelling performance that convinced our new neighbor to bake me a chocolate cake for my birthday. I was first paid to act ridiculous at the Georgia Renaissance Festival as a street performer and later at the Bay Area Renaissance Festival (BARF) in Florida as a “family-friendly” stage performer. Many years later, after moving to Bloomington, I performed as a drag king in a charity benefit at The Back Door. I’ve been performing drag regularly for almost three years now.

How did you get involved with MCCT?

Last summer I saw a Facebook event announcing auditions for Shakespeare in the Park. I felt like that could be fun – kind of like returning to my Rennie roots without the six-week performance commitment and lack of indoor plumbing – but I didn’t really think I’d get accepted. To everyone’s surprise, I was cast as Touchstone in As You Like It. And here I am again.

This show has some non-traditional casting. How do you think that affects the show?

Well, if it were traditionally cast, we’d all be cis men! In order to keep Shakespeare fresh and relevant, I believe the cast should reflect the diversity of the community in which it is presented. The only reason I chose to audition for MCCT in the first place was that they stated up front that the organization was open to non-traditional casting. Theater as a whole is very strictly gendered. I believe going non-trad has an incredibly positive impact on the show because the roles go to the best actors, regardless of their gender. It means more representation. The audience might see themselves in more of the characters; feel more of a connection.

MCCT is Bloomington’s longest running community theater. Where do you see this show’s civic engagement?

The Tempest is a show about power imbalance. There are themes of colonization, displacement, and prejudice. That’s pretty heavy stuff for a comedy! Again, I believe the non-traditional cast will engage more people and hopefully invite discussion on these themes, connecting them to current events in our community.

What do you hope the audience takes away from the show?

Sympathy for the devil. No, seriously, I hope they think about why we demonize people who don’t look like us, or who don’t act the way we think they should act. Then maybe take it a step further and question why we have these unspoken rules in our heads about how anyone else should live their lives in the first place! Think about power. Why do we give it to certain people and not to others? What is our recourse when those people in power use it to hurt others? How long do we turn away or accept it as appropriate, or even justified, before that power is used against us? But above all, I hope everyone understands the importance of staying hydrated while stranded on a magical island.

How have you been preparing for your role?

Our director clued me in to the artistry of motion-capture actor Terry Notary. I can’t hope to come anywhere close to his glorious fluidity of movement but he’s my inspiration for Caliban and beyond. Other than that, I drink a lot of coffee and talk to myself in public. This is slightly different from my normal behavior because I’m actually saying my lines instead of just gabbling like a thing most brutish.

What do you do when you aren’t performing Shakespeare?

I perform locally as drag king Derek Von Zipper. In case you’re unfamiliar with drag kings (as opposed to drag queens), that means I dress up and personify male gender stereotypes and characters while lip syncing, usually in a comedic fashion, and people hand me cash. Feel free to do that during The Tempest intermission! I am also a troupe member of Different Drummer Belly Dancers and we perform all around Indiana, bringing the joy of non-traditional belly dance to the masses. And I cosplay, which means I dress up as a pop culture character from movies or TV shows just for fun, so you might see me around town or at GenCon personifying Tony Stark or Yondu from the Marvel superhero movies, Negan from The Walking Dead, or Grunkle Stan from Gravity Falls, among others.

Do you see yourself in your character at all? What has been your “in” to understanding their point of view?

I definitely see myself in Caliban. As a non-binary gendered person, I might appear physically and even mentally monstrous to some people because I do not immediately present as either male or female. It is also easy for me to understand Caliban as someone who has been emotionally abused by a narcissistic authority figure from a very young age. Caliban is a sympathetic character to me for these reasons, while still acting as a villain by choosing to use the tools of his oppressor (manipulation, intimidation) against other characters in the play. Portraying Caliban is both a welcome challenge and a catharsis for me.

Come see Rene and the rest of the 2018 Shakespeare in the Park cast and crew May 31-June 3 at Waldron Hill and Buskirk Park (formerly Third Street Park).

  • Thursday-Saturday shows are at 7:00pm, with a pre-show performance of Tempest in a Teacup at 6:45pm.
  • The Sunday matinee is at 3:00pm with a 2:45pm preshow.

As always, Shakespeare in the Park is free!

Actor Profile: Eric Van Gucht portrays Teddy in “When You Comin’ Back, Red Ryder?”

Actor Profile: Eric Van Gucht portrays Teddy in “When You Comin’ Back, Red Ryder?”

Monroe County Civic Theater is entering into its 32nd season as Bloomington’s only all-volunteer, amateur community theater company. First up, director Isadore James Torry brings us a gripping drama where small town diner patrons and staff are held hostage and forced to face their own mortality… and each other.

Eric Van Gucht plays Teddy, the perpetrator of these crimes in the MCCT production of Mark Medoff’s “When You Comin’ Back, Red Ryder?” the 1974 Obie Award winner for Distinguished Play. The production will be performed at Cafe Pizzaria, April 6-8, 7pm.

This is the first in a new series of MCCT actor/crew profiles. I’ve asked Eric to talk about playing Teddy, his experiences as an IU Theater graduate, and what community theater means to him.

 

KHV:

When did you first want to be an actor? Was there a first acting experience that really made you love it and can you tell us about that?

EVG:

I was in seventh grade, around age thirteen, when I started doing theater seriously. I had a neighbor who had done it for several years, and I saw him acting and thought it would be fun to try. At the time I didn’t expect my theatrical career to last as long as it has, but I’m glad it did. At my first serious audition for a middle school play I ended up getting the lead role and never looked back. It’s been a very good friendship between the craft and I.

One production that I really loved which made me really want to pursue theater beyond just a high school level was The Fantasticks as a junior at Bloomington North. I got to be on stage with my best friend, and it was the first serious show (i.e. show not written for middle school audiences) that I’d ever experienced. It remains one of my favorites to this day.

KHV:

What would you say your biggest hurdles were as an actor/theater student? Did you consider other degree programs?

EVG:
Good question! One of the hardest parts about theater was learning how to deal with failure. Since I had a couple of lead roles in middle school, I came in a little overconfident as a high school actor. In those four years I ended up doing two productions where I acted on stage, and two more where I worked backstage.

For beginning actors an important lesson to learn is that the nature of competing in professional theater means you’re going to get a lot more noes than yeses. I’ve done a lot of work with Monroe County Civic Theater and other local groups, and I’ve gotten involved in a few independent shows connected to IU.

I also have a B.A. in French, and between the two degrees I feel like I have a good command of words. I never really considered any other degree programs at the time, but in hindsight it might have helped me to consider other options. I love to do theater, but creativity has a lot of competition in it.

KHV:

What can you tell us about your current role in “When Ya Comin Back, Red Ryder?” as Teddy, a Vietnam veteran who holds the customers and staff in a 1970s New Mexico diner hostage? How did you prepare for it and how do you think your personal and professional experience helped you learn about the character?

EVG:
I’m reading Teddy as a misanthrope, someone who’s seen the worst of the world and doesn’t know how to react accordingly. He either doesn’t care anymore, or has a desire to cause pain to the very system that enabled him. At the same time, he is able to get several characters to figure out their own values, so I’d argue there is something significant in that.

The role is very psychologically and physically challenging, but I love roles that are psychologically troubled. These characters often have more life experience due to the inconsistent and chaotic nature of their world.

KHV:

What are your goals as an actor in our community and beyond? What kind of roles do you think would stretch you?

EVG:
In terms of stretching myself? I’d love a chance to play a romantic lead in the near future, to try to see if I can succeed. I also would love to play characters that seem to have something missing in their lives. Essentially “man vs. society” and/or “man vs. self” roles, perhaps a combination of the two whenever possible. My goal is to find the balance between art and life, and find the time to enjoy both.

There’s a hidden beauty to art, and I’d love to try to find out what that means. It might help bring back some hope in this world that we seem to be missing nowadays. Basically, I want to explore the therapeutic, healing side of art. I’ve heard a saying: “As long as you have four things – an idea, an artist, a location, and an audience – then art will always survive.” I’ve always loved that saying.

KHV:

What advice would you like to give for anyone looking to get involved in community theater, or for someone who wants to study acting professionally? Any other words of wisdom?

EVG:

I’m going to paraphrase something I was told by a fellow actor, which is something I try to use both on stage and in life: “Don’t do the work looking for a reward.” Let it happen naturally, and let the work itself be rewarding. Knowing yourself is very important in life, and I’d argue especially in the arts.

Last Question: who would you like to give a shout out of thanks to for their support?

I’d like to thank my dad Dirk, stepmom Linda, and late mom Ruth for coming to so many shows and fostering my love for the arts; my brother Nick, sister Dinska, and stepbrother Chris because even if they can’t make my shows they always give me words of encouragement; the cast of Red Ryder for keeping me grounded during this production; Andi Dema, a great actor and great man who I am honored to call my best friend; and to Allison Moody, a professor I had for two semesters in college who I consider my mentor.

Interview conducted by Katelin Hope Vesely, MCCT

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The historic Cafe Pizzaria is partnering with MCCT for this show.  We will set the stage in their back room with the authentic decor of times gone by. Cafe Pizzaria was the first to bring pizza to Bloomington in 1953, and is still housed in a building which lends itself well to the 1970s restaurant aesthetic in Red Ryder. This will be an immersive experience, with the audience sitting close as if also witness to the events taking place.

Cafe Pizzaria is located at 405 E. Kirkwood Ave.

When You Comin’ Back, Red Ryder?” is April 6-8 at 7pm. Mark your calendars and purchase tickets in advance through https://mcct.yapsody.com/