In the “Great American Trailer Park Musical,” formerly produced at Oregon Stage Works, J.R. Storment played Duke, a “marker-sniffing stripper-ex-girlfriend-chasing redneck freak.” His performance was bone-chilling until Duke miraculously transformed into the comfy, cozy and compliant sonny boy that any mother would want.
Currently, J.R. plays a revolutionary in the intense new Palestinian play, “Masked,” one of the four plays in “Things We Do,” now at Oregon Stage Works.
I met J.R. at Bloomsbury coffee house. He is the Web creative director of denizenTV.com and a photographer.
JRS: Theater for me is interesting, because I never wanted it to be my career. I love doing it but I don’t want it to be something I have to do for money. I don’t want to be a starving actor. It is fun. It’s my social outlet, my way to unwind at the end of the day.
EH: What’s interesting about theater people?
JRS: Well, we’re all crazy (laughter). I mean, really. I find more and more that I get along in a certain special way with theater people. There is a certain difference that the theater crowd seems to have. I think we have these crazy things we want to do, or live out or experience. We can’t do them in real life, so we’re drawn to the theater where we can play, and be kids, and explore these themes that we can’t normally in the real world, at least not legally or without being in trouble. It’s really craziness, and I love it. There’s this energy that people in theater have that is so infectious and intoxicating, and we just have fun.
The most amazing part of it is the way that you can take this group of people that have nothing in common and put them together working on a show, this project together, and within four weeks these people will be like brothers and sisters. It becomes family, this tight-knit group, no matter how big or small the cast is. And this happens overnight essentially. It’s mind-blowing. And the every time, it’s like, “I’m totally going to keep in touch with you, you’re so great.” And then the show ends, and you let it go, and it’s time.
So you get to live these mini-periods in your life with different people who you are so tight with. It’s just amazing how that happens. And I think it happens because you are working together on a common goal and a common project. You have this obstacle that you have to face, and it pulls people together.
JRS: It’s getting the thing done. It’s stressful, it’s challenging. You never think the show is going to happen. You think, “This is the one that is never going to happen for a reason. You’re not going to make it.” But it always does come together.
EH: Is it easy to get to know people?
JRS: When you’re working with another person on stage, another actor, you have this structure this skeleton that you are working with. You don’t have to worry about the small talk. You know what you’re supposed to say; you know what is supposed to happen. What goes back and forth is just raw person. So it’s really easy to connect with somebody. Politics, lifestyle — none of that comes into it. It’s like, “Oh, I’m having fun with this person whom I know nothing about.”
“Masked” is part of “Things We Do,” a four-play series at Oregon Stage Works. Shows are at 7 p.m. Wednesday through Monday and 2 p.m. on Sunday through May 31. For tickets call 482-2334.
Evalyn Hansen is a resident of Ashland. She has a bachelor's degree in dramatic arts from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master's degree from San Francisco State University. She studied acting at The American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco and is a founding member of San Francisco's Magic Theatre. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.