Denis Arndt

Denis Arndt
Denis Arndt

Actor Denis Arndt is currently starring as Prospero in “The Tempest” and playing three supporting roles in “The Great Society” at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Arndt has had a long and prosperous stage, film and television career. We visited over a scrumptious brunch at the Greenleaf Restaurant in Ashland. This is the first of a two-part Backstage column.

DA: I think that almost all theater should be approached as an athletic event. I think that there’s a physicality to it. Aside from the fact that you have to have some basic chops, you have to speak clearly. You need to know how to breathe, no less than a singer has to know how to breathe, especially in Shakespeare. We used to have contests to see who could actually hold a breath and sustain meaning through seventeen lines of iambic pentameter. Not many people could do it. You start thinking of yourself as a bagpipe, this huge bag that you have to keep filled, and of course that takes a certain kind of commitment. That’s just the technical part of it. There’s also very much of a “spiritual” aspect to it. Theater is a human act, a collective human act.

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