Tell me about the next play you are directing. Wasn't it part of the Summer Playwrights Festival a year or two ago?I am directing "The Different Shades of Hugh" by Clete Keith. The play was brought to me by my old friend and colleague Craig Berenson, a film producer who has worked with the writer. It's a fascinating piece about the artistic process and within 2 pages, I was completely hooked. We included it in our Summer Playwrights Festival two years ago and I directed it. It produced a wonderful and lively discussion about art and artists and I couldn't get it out of my head.
What is special about it?
What's special about "Hugh" is its voice, which runs the gamut from very very funny to very beautiful and moving, all the while asking some important questions about the creation of art and the toll it takes on some personalities. The idea of an audience living what the artist lives in his process is wonderfully challenging to me, as well as creating the world of art around him.
How does it fit into the Road's mission of producing edgy new works?
The Road's mission introduces new works and new voices to the American stage and "The Different Shades of Hugh" fits that mission perfectly. Clete Keith is a local writer, a wonderful screenwriter and this is his first play. I am honored that he has trusted me and the Road with it. It will create all kinds of discussion after, while the trip itself will be wonderfully entertaining.
What's challenging for a director doing a play about a visual artist is we need to create his paintings, quite a number of them, as well as some incredible visual imagery that will take us inside his process. I had such an incredible time a few years ago directing Stacy Sims' "As White As O," which was set in an art gallery, and I'm drawn to material which explores where art comes from. I am reuniting with a big part of my design team from that show -- Adam Flemming, the brilliant scenic/video designer, our resident sound designer Wiz Dave Marling, and the amazing Jeremy Pivnik, lighting designer, along with Jocelyn Hublau who I've worked with a lot now as costume designer.
I have my talented Assistant Director/Co-Producer Bettina Zacar back, and co-producers Suzanne Hunt and my friend Craig Berenson, in his first producing stint with the Road to take on these challenges and like the play, the process is profoundly enriching.
Can you tell us the cast yet?
The cast includes: Coronado Romero, Whitney Dylan, Stephan Smith Collins, Ellie Jameson, Tom Musgrave and Zachary Mooren. Many of these company members are making their debuts on the Road stage in the new Road on Magnolia and it is my first time directing there. The auditions were so inspiring I could have chosen three complete casts from our talented members, and it was a very difficult decision making process.
You have done extensive work onstage as an actor and director ... as well as on television. What is the greatest plus you get from each medium?
In this phase of my life and career, what I'm enjoying so much is changing hats all the time. I spent a month in New Orleans this year filming a very unique horror film which opens in January called Devil's Due with four young directors who work under the name Radio Silence and it was one of the most enjoyable, freeing experiences I've had in a long time, tons of fun.... and a very scary product, I might add. I have simultaneously been recurring on FX's JUSTIFIED, playing one of the nastiest characters I've ever played and loving that ride as well -- wonderful cast, writing and very caring producers. Teaching my ongoing scene study class for professional actors is my way of giving back what I've learned and continue to learn about both the business of Hollywood and the art of the character actor, and nothing has energized me more than that. Helping my compadre, Taylor Gilbert (founder of the Road) make this company grow and do the kind of dangerous work we do in choosing and presenting new work takes up another part of my brain and when I direct, which I've tried to do at least once every other year if not once a year, I get engulfed in that process of creating the world in which a great new playwright's voice can best be heard. I deal with a lot of playwrights the Road chooses to produce and work through rewrites with them and the goal is always that they walk away, like the actors, designers and patrons do,I hope, feeling like they've been well taken care of at the Road. You put all that together, and it's one plus after another: the chance to work, to lead, to serve. It keeps me humble and happy.
http://www.roadtheatre.orgBe sure to catch The Different Shades of Hugh directed by Sam Anderson at the Road Theatre Company in its new space at the NoHo Senior Arts Colony on Magnolia January 24-March 15, 2014!