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.