Actor G. Valmont Thomas brilliantly portrays Sir John Falstaff in “Henry IV, Part One,” now playing at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. He will also play Falstaff in “Henry IV, Part Two.” This is Thomas’ 14th season with OSF. A native of the Pacific Northwest, Thomas took time out from his acting career to earn an MFA in Directing for the Theater from Pennsylvania State University. We met at Boulevard Coffee in Ashland. This is the first of a two-part interview. The second will be published on June 26.
EH: Why do people make their life in theater?
GVT: It’s different for everybody, but most theater artists have an altruistic streak. I don’t find what we do that much different from psychology, psychiatry or religion, because we are dealing with these four questions: “Who am I? What the heck am I doing here? What am I supposed to do when I’m here?” and “How do I know when I’m doing it right?” Those are the things that we deal with everyday. I believe that I’m helping the world deal with itself. A lot of theater people feel that they can help heal. We feel that we are the agents of healing. And right now, it’s very prevalent among us.
EH: As far as politics go?
GVT: As far as this country goes. Our country is very sick, and nobody has the prescription. So many people are making money off of the sickness that they don’t want our country to get well. It’s these runaway judgments (on television and such) that people make about each other. I think that’s gone haywire. I think that we’re back now to where people are feeling that they can judge which race, which economic strata or religion is best. That’s what fuels hatred: “If I judge you, I can get rid of you.”