Friday, March 2, 2018

Interview - Thom Babbes Director of A Man for All Seasons at Actors Co-op

Actors Co-op credits include Summer and Smoke, Ah, Wilderness (Best Director/StageSceneLA), The Miracle Worker and Wait Until Dark.  He has directed workshop productions of new works, Dietrich (based on Dietrich Bonhoeffer) by John Martins III, The Real Real Thing by Frank Higgins and Washington Irvine’s Sketchbook by Frank Higgins and Southhamton County (based on Nat Turner’s slave rebellion) which Mr. Babbes wrote.  Other credits:  Sun City by Jim Geoghan at Stella Adler Theater, Hollywood.  A writer as well, Mr. Babbes recently adapted William Saroyan’s novel The Human Comedy for the stage.  Screenplays include Deadly Dreams and Body Chemistry (Concorde New Horizons), The Audition - A Short Film (Co-Writer – Winner Best Screenplay & Best Comedy 2008 - 168 Hour Film Festival), X-treme Weekend - Short Film (Co-Writer, screened at multiple fests USA and Canada.)  Insurrection (Samuelson Prods.), Bleeding Writing and Arithmetic (Kings Road Ent.), The Substutute (Apollo Pictures), Island of Lonely Men (Sotela Pictures).
When did you start directing plays?  What was your first directing job, and what did you learn from that experience that serves or guides you today when you direct?
I started directing plays in the late 1990s when I joined Actor’s Co-op.  They were mostly new plays done as a part of the Co-op Too series.  I have worked with many directors over the years and I approach directing as a collaborative process with the actor.  If you cast well, and you are clear about the themes and the story you want to tell, it usually comes together.  I love actors and respect them.  I hate when directors try to get a performance out of an actor using fear and humiliation.  That is not my style.  I try to create an atmosphere of freedom and creativity. 
How did your directing A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS come about? 
 I have had a lot of success with my past Main Stage shows at Actors Co-op THE MIRACLE WORKER, WAIT UNTIL DARK, AH, WILDERNESS and SUMMER AND SMOKE.  The Co-op called me about coming back and directing A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS.  Originally I had to turn it down because I was directing another show at the time but they changed the date for AMFAS and it worked out in the end.  Actors Co-op is my home and working there is such a pleasure for me.  It is a great fit.  
Tell us a bit about the play.  
AMFAS is the story of Sir Thomas More — a man of great faith and conscience.  When his faith comes into conflict with King Henry VIII, he chooses his faith and pays the ultimate price. Telling the story is the character of The Common Man - a character who is the opposite of More. The Common Man represents the worst in human nature.  She is a character who is shrewd and opportunistic but at the same time a survivor at any cost. She says it best, "Better to be a live rat than a dead lion."
What makes A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS a notable play?  What is about the play that might appeal to an audience in 2018?
This is a play that has stood the test of time.  It was a huge hit in London, on Broadway and won the Academy Award for Best Film of 1966. It is a story of conscience and survival.  I think this story is more reverent today in our post Christian world.  In this secular society is there anything worth dying for?  In this divided country, how far would you go to stand for an unpopular belief?  Would you dare to lose it all because of your point of view?  I believe being a person of faith is a very hard road especially in Los Angeles.  This play explores that very issue.  Although the play takes place in the 16th century, it it written for a modern audience.  It is very accessible.
What do you want the audience to experience and/or take away to having seen the play? 
I think I'd like them to experience a new way of looking at the world.  I want them to truly consider their commitment to God, their conscience, and the people around them.  How can we live together, respect each other and still have different views?  Is it better to stand up for one's principles no matter what the cost?  Or is it better to just survive and compromise?
Do you have future directing or writing projects that you are involved in, and if so, what are you working on?  
Right now I am working on a new adaptation of William Saroyan’s THE HUMAN COMEDY.  It is a project I’ve been involved with for many years and is finally beginning to take off.  We did a fully produced workshop production at Village Christian School last November with a group of really talented student actors but now it’s time to get the first professional production mounted.  I am also currently directing a production of PETER PAN.
Show Times and Tickets: March 2 – April 15, 2018.  Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 pm, Sunday matinees at 2:30 pm. Additional Saturday Matinees: March 10 and March 17 at 2:30 pm.  No Shows March 30 – April 1. Tickets: $30.00.  Seniors (60+): $25.00.  Students: $20.00.  Group rates available for parties of 6 or more.  To buy tickets or make reservations please visit or call (323) 462-8460.   Actors Co-op David Schall Theatre, 1760 N. Gower St.  90028  (on the campus of the First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood) in Hollywood.

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