We're moving into our final week of performances of Samuel D. Hunter's A BRIGHT NEW BOISE. The support from our audiences and the reviews of the show have been outstanding! Just this past week alone, Sam's play was chosen as a New York Times Critics' Pick and rated 5 out of 5 stars by Helen Shaw of Time Out New York. It's not too late to catch A BRIGHT NEW BOISE; we've added 2 new performances (Tuesday, September 28 at 8pm and Saturday, October 2 at 2pm) to our regular schedule!
In the few moments between performances, director Davis McCallum interviewed Andrew Garman to tell us more about the play and his character Will.
DAVIS MCCALLUM: What's it like acting in a Sam Hunter play?
ANDREW GARMAN: Torture. I started smoking again. I'm kidding. Well, not about the smoking, but that's not Sam's fault.
There is something remarkable about how Sam is able to create a plausible world in which characters can be hugely, broadly comedic, as well as so quietly, carefully intense. You had a lot to do with integrating those elements, Davis. From the beginning, you were really going for both ends of that spectrum. As an actor, it's just about the most challenging and satisfying ride you can take. And I suppose that's precisely how I feel about this play and experience.
DM: I think you guys are great actors. (Not joking.) Will is such a specific creation, with vocal mannerisms and physical habits that are very different from your own. Did you model your characters on particular people that you know? How did you work to discover these deeply idiosyncratic people over the course of rehearsals? (I know I was there, but I was checking e-mail a lot of the time.)
AG: I remember once in rehearsal, Davis, you were showing me a transition cross you wanted me to make ... and you were imitating me, or at least my physical interpretation of the character at the time. And I thought, holy shit is that what I look like?! Some sort of Nosferatu thing?! Haha. I started reworking the physicality immediately thereafter!
Actually most of the physicality and almost all of the vocal stuff didn't really happen for me until we got in the theater. That's pretty normal for me, though. I don't think I've ever modeled a character on another person, at least not the technical aspects. All the work during the rehearsal period trying to understand the character, his needs, his intentions, his particular viewpoint ... I rely on that to inform the physical expression. I know a lot of actors who do heaps of research. I'm not really one of them. But I must admit, watching the documentary "Waiting For Armageddon" was particularly useful in terms of understanding how and what Rapture Triumphalists think. Eventually when all that stuff lands into place, then the physical form emerges, as well as the vocal manner. It never seems to work for me when I try to force that on a character prematurely. I always get a little bit anxious when it doesn't happen until late in the process. But, I've learned to be patient.
DM: You do a lot of new plays. What are the particular challenges for actors who are working on first productions of brand new plays?
AG: That's a really good question.
I think working on a new play is really all about serving the writer, helping him or her to finish that long, sometimes difficult journey from mind to page to stage. I have great admiration for people who have the talent and will to make that journey.
I think it's important to be totally committed and open from Day One. And as the rehearsal process continues, to be as prepared as possible. That sounds obvious of course, but I think the rehearsal period of a new play, particularly when the writer is in the room, is a unique situation. The writer is essentially asking for assistance in assessing what does and doesn't work. The best help an actor can give is to try and make scenes work. Go as far as the character and scene requires, right out on the balancing beam, to the point of falling off. If the moment, or scene, or speech comes apart for some reason...that should reveal a problem with the script. It should not be the result of an actor's inflexibility, or negative judgement, or lack of full effort. In truth, it's easy to slide into those traps...I think I did so a few times in our Boise rehearsals. There's plenty of time for discussing and debating, when useful and necessary. But when acting, make it work. And when it doesn't, that's solid information for the writer.
DM: Why do you think Pauline gives Will a job in the Hobby Lobby in the first place?
AG: Oh Davis, if you were at that table I think you would know.
Were it not for Late Nights With Anna...
In any case, Will's first spark in Boise belongs to Pauline. Absolutely. If only she didn't swear so dang much.
DM: What's your honest assessment of the acting work that Sam and I do on the "Hobby Lobby TV" voiceover? Really, be as honest as you can.
AG: I'm glad you asked that question.
Honestly, I prefer your performance, Davis. You capture the mundaneness particularly well. It's like you could not be more disinterested in what you're saying. Almost like you are somehow sleep-talking through the whole thing. It's excellent.
Sam, I feel, is mildly engaged, and therefore engaging. And that makes for way too much personality.
Wait, is Sam going to read this?
Join us for the final week of A BRIGHT NEW BOISE. Tickets are available for advance purchase online.
Tuesday, September 28 through Saturday, October at 8pm, Saturday, October 2 at 2pm. All performances take place at our home, The Wild Project, 195 E. 3rd Street between Avenues A and B.