Tag Archives: Actor

OSF actor Chris Butler on TV and theater

Chris Butler’s superb performances at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival — Othello in “Othello” in 2018, and Griffin in last Season’s “How to Catch Creation” — prompted me to ask him for an interview.

Among other achievements, Butler earned his MFA in theater from the University of California at San Diego, and he played Matan Brody in 21 episodes on “The Good Wife” TV series. We visited over Cobb salads at Standing Stone Brewing Company.

EH: Tell me about your training as an actor.

CB: At UCSD, where I got most of my training, they didn’t subscribe to one particular school. They would give you a sprinkling of everything to see what resonated with you. They weren’t trying to make you a specific type of actor. They would let you bring what you had to the table and try to give you something to help you succeed. I’ve had a little taste of all of it. I approach the character from character background, character history and, “Who is everybody else in the play, and how do they interact with me?” And a little bit about, “Where did my character come from before he started the scene?” I have a personal method, but it doesn’t strictly come from this person or that person.

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Third takes on many meanings in ‘Third’

Livia Genise and Jeannine Grizzard have banded together to produce “Third,” now playing at Carpenter Hall through Nov. 24.

The play, written by Pulitzer Prize winner Wendy Wasserstein, centers around an accusation of plagiarism by Laurie, an aging female professor, toward Third, a young male college student. She sees him as a stereotype rather than recognizing him as a unique individual.

“Third” is an intricate and intriguing play. It takes place at a small New England college at the beginning of the Iraq war. The conflict centers around two interpretations of “King Lear.” Hers is feminist, and his is Freudian. Those themes resonate throughout the play.

“Third” is skillfully directed by Grizzard, with powerful performances by Genise and a strong supporting cast, including Renee Hewitt, Adam Kilgore, Beth Boulay and Sig Dekany.

I chatted with Genise and Grizzard over lunch at Sesame Asian Kitchen.

EH: What is the main thrust of this play?

JG: The play is about intellectual honesty.

LG: And integrity and rediscovering your integrity, if you’ve lost track of it.

Continue reading Third takes on many meanings in ‘Third’

Choosing the right role

Actor Marshall Gluskin is preparing for the Southern Oregon Theater Auditions now being held at The Oregon Cabaret Theatre. Gluskin played Malvolio in Cil Stengel’s brilliant production of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” at Rogue Community College. He recently toured in Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot.” We visited over tea at the Rogue Valley Roasting Company.

EH: What’s an ideal director?

MG: A good director keeps things on a nice calm level, does not get too personally involved with the work, and carries through the intentions of the author. He has to know the craft and how to treat actors to get the best performances out of them. If everybody treats each other with respect and you have a situation that is relaxed, everybody can be themselves. Then you’re free to be the character. Rehearsals are places where you have to be able to fall on your face, and not worry about being embarrassed or called out for it. You’ve got to have that relaxation, professionalism, knowledge, and experience. It all comes into play.

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Robinson can’t imagine a life doing anything else

Rick Robinson directs “Dancing at Lughnasa,” now playing at the Collaborative Theatre Project in Medford. Robinson is also managing director of the Oregon Cabaret Theatre. We met at Forage Coffee in Medford to talk about Brian Friel’s Tony Award-winning play.

Rick Robinson: This is a memory play along the lines of Tennessee William’s “Glass Menagerie.” It’s a narrator telling about his childhood, and has that dreamlike feel.

The authenticity of the piece is what drew me to it. There is warmth and humor, and there are these wonderful human beings that collide. The characters feel very real. You really love these human beings. It’s lush, it’s real, and it strikes that nerve that informs us of what it is to be human.

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Comedy brings joy, therapy

Writers Cynthia Rogan, Diane Nichols, and Mark Saunders are producing the Oregon Jest Fest, a 10-minute play festival, to be presented at Ashland’s Belleview Grange opening in late January 2020. The deadline for entries is Aug. 31, 2019. One afternoon, we laughed a lot and chatted about writing and comedy.

EH: What has writing brought to your life?

DN: I can’t afford therapy, so I sit down by myself, analyzing my strange situations. Creatures come in and talk, and characters come and have things to say. I find myself enjoying the process of bringing that story to life, then I feel better.

CR: I’ve always tried to figure out why people do what they do. If you understand why somebody does something to you, it makes it somehow easier to take or to fix. I write in self-defense maybe? (to DN) You don’t even type with all your fingers.

DN: I type with one finger. This finger has typed a Master’s thesis.

MS: It’s a magic finger.

DN: It thinks so.

MS: It’s the educated finger.

DN: You have to say, it’s the pointer finger. I don’t want to write with the middle finger, it comes out all wrong.

MS: We’re just storytellers. That’s how we give ourselves therapy, and also to understand the world around us. For me, it’s always about the humor. It’s definitely hard work sometimes. Peter De Vries said, “I love being a writer. What I can’t stand is the paperwork.” It’s just to be able to sit down and create these characters out of nothing, and then they come alive. I think writing is fun.

DN: It’s the most fun.

CR: It’s rewarding, because there is a blank sheet of paper, and …

MS: You create a world.

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Transitioning between film and stage

Actor Andrew Perez played Klaus Kinski both in film and live performance during the Ashland Independent Film Festival. Klaus Kinski was an explosive, eccentric German actor, who was directed by Werner Herzog in a number of films including: “Fitzcarraldo,” “Nosferatu the Vampyre,” and “Aguirre, the Wrath of God.”

The film “My Dinner with Werner” is an uproarious spoof, directed by Maverick Moore, portraying a murderous battle between, Klaus Kinski and Werner Herzog. Perez’s one-man theatrical performance, “The Second Coming of Klaus Kinski” is a thrilling tour-de-force, written by Perez, and impeccably directed by Eric G. Johnson.

I met with Perez and Johnson at the Schneider Museum of Art where we viewed the Apocalypse exhibit.

EH: How did you construct “The Second Coming of Klaus Kinski?”

AP: The logic of it is that he is dying. It is a platform for his redemption, where his soul is doing battle in his moment of passing. It’s like a dream. His demons start ambushing him, and he’s defending his life, which leads him into the past. Continue reading Transitioning between film and stage

The craft of a solo performance

British actor John Rainer is preparing for his poetry recital honoring the British Poets Laureates, opening at the Ashland Library on Saturday April 6th. Rainer’s recent solo performance “Prufrock’s World” featuring poems by T.S. Eliot played to sold-out audiences. Those of us who were lucky enough to see it were astounded by the brilliance of the poetry and the talent of the man. I chatted with Rainer at the Pony Espresso Café.

EH: What was your theatrical training?

JR: At the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts: speech, scene study, you name it, the usual background. Really, my whole training was in British Regional Theatre. I toured England with various companies, and then did West End shows, the traditional route, which isn’t really traditional anymore. There really isn’t the training ground for young actors, where you really do get a chance to experiment with finding your own techniques. The repertory system, which was such a glorious training ground, isn’t really there anymore. Continue reading The craft of a solo performance