"There is no safety net and you are out there on the wire." - Ian Swift
Evalyn Hansen: What is it that is unique about theater?
Ian Swift: I think it’s something you don’t do by yourself; it’s something that you have to involve others in. Even if you are doing a one-man show, you still have a producer, a light crew, sound, whatever. It’s a team effort. It’s unique in that respect. It is a team sport. With painting, composing, writing — it’s a solo thing.
What goes into theater is extraordinary. You come together to do a play, and it’s like a bunch of folks put on an elevator. And the elevator gets stuck. And you are with these human beings for a very intense period of time, for five or six weeks of rehearsal. You see them almost on a daily basis. Theater also calls for putting yourself in a vulnerable position. Otherwise I don’t think it makes for a good actor.
"Maybe it's the schizophrenic in us all that just wants to be everybody all of the time." — Mark Barsekian
EH: So you’re basically an actor?
MB: I love to explore life through the characters I perform. Acting is my retreat. It’s when I don’t have to be me. Maybe it’s the schizophrenic in us all that just wants to be everybody all of the time. Any life that I want to live, I can, just by picking up a script, and doing the homework and dedicating my self to a character and to an author, and being true to what I see: in life and in the text. Because we portray life, we are communicating lives to our audiences, people that they know or will never know. That is one of the gifts of acting.
Over coffee and root beer at Bloomsbury Coffee House, Doug Ham described the theatrical team experience.
EH: Theater is life-giving, in a way, isn’t it?
DH: The first show I was ever in was during the height of the Vietnam War. People were afraid of being drafted. I was a mess. At the end of the show this couple came up to me and said it was so cool for two hours to come into the theater and to be able to laugh out loud and to and forget about all that is going on outside. I thought, “Well this is what I need to be doing.” It can be an escape and it can be a teacher.
"There is a truth to theater that you may not see out on the street." — Peter Alzado
As we sat in the darkened theater on a sunny day, Peter expanded on his vision of theater and the release of the soul.
EH: You have two plays coming up in the next season: “Golden Boy” by Clifford Odets and “Glen Garry Glen Ross” by David Mamet. What attracted you to present those plays?
PA: Both plays deal with the downside of the American economic system. I’m all there with free enterprise, but I think, taken as far as it can go, it becomes cannibalism, and we are seeing that now. There needs to be free market but there also needs to be a recognition that we’re all human and we need to treat each other in a fashion that respects that money is not the end of everything: the be-all and end-all. That’s what has brought us to the place we are now.