The Dog in the Manger
Season 08-09 Season

One on One with Michael Hayden and Michelle Hurd

The Dog in the Manger features the return of Michael Hayden, last seen in Michael Kahn’s Sweet Bird of Youth and the Shakespeare Theatre Company debut of Michelle Hurd. The two actors offer insight on working with director Jonathan Munby, favorite roles and those who have inspired their careers.

Michael Hayden:
Most recent role?
Father and husband. Before that Denton in the Roundabout Underground production of Language of Trees.

Favorite Role?
That's a hard one. Billy in Carousel, Hal in Henry IV.

Pre-performance ritual?
At some point in the day drill my lines. Warm up my voice. Pray. Beyond that, I keep it pretty loose. Each part is different. Some need quiet, some need loud music. I look for ways to be ready, but not comfortable. Ready to take the first step. Or if not ready, than at least willing.   

This is you second production with STC, why did you want to return?
That's easy. Michael Kahn and his staff produce great work. Doing Sweet Bird of Youth with Michael was a pure joy from beginning to end. I had loved Michael as an acting teacher at Juilliard and I loved him as a director. Also, there are very few places where one can do great classical roles. The Shakespeare Theatre is one of them and I hope to keep coming back.

Why were you interested in playing Teodoro?
I have never done a Lope de Vega play, though I had seen some of his other works while studying in Spain. This was a play I knew nothing about. I was drawn to it because it was funny, sexy, incredibly human in the see saw passions of the characters, and, of course, the language. I think the translation is brilliant and I hope we do it justice. As for Teodoro, we need to get to know each other better before I can talk much about him.
 
This is your first production with Jonathan Munby. What intrigued you about his work?
In all honesty, I knew nothing of his work before I was called about this project. But after speaking with him for only a few minutes, I was certain that I wanted to work with him. He was able to articulate his vision for the play with such clarity. He has a long list of great work in England, my second home, and I'm grateful that he was willing to take a risk with me without having seen any of my work. We are lucky to have him.

Most influential person in your theatre career?
I stand on a lot of shoulders when I do my work, but I suppose the most influential person in my career, as well as my life, is Elizabeth, my wife. Any work of art, at least to me, is a work of the heart. She has mine and therefore has a presence in all I do.

Michelle Hurd:
Most recent role?
I most recently played Laurel in Gossip Girl. It was fun for me as I often play cops and lawyers and doctors and this time I had the opportunity to play a mean fashionista ... and wear cute outfits and heels.

Favorite role?
This is always a hard question. I sure enjoyed the entire experience of playing Jessie Brewster in The Violet Hour. It was great working with Richard Greenberg and actors Mario Cantone and Hamish Linklater—great, generous guys. But I feel very at home on a set or onstage so it's hard to narrow it down.

Pre-performance rituals?
I'm old school. I like to do some kind of relaxation exercise and a vocal warm up.

This is your first production with STC, why were you interested in working here?
I have always heard wonderful things about STC.  It is a highly respected place and the space is beautiful. I want to work with talented, motivated, interesting people that inspire and I've found them here at STC and in Jonathan.

Why were you interested in playing Diana?
What's not of interest with Diana? She's an incredibly complex, exciting character. There is a lot on her shoulders in the construction of the play—that responsibility is scary and a welcome challenge. I've always been attracted to high text and period plays, but seldom have the opportunity to exercise that. I'm looking forward to it.

This is your first production with Jonathan Munby. What intrigued you about his work?
The man himself. He is one of the major reasons that I wanted to do this play. As soon as I met him, I felt an instant collaborative energy, respect and a desire to do better. That makes for a fulfilling process.

Who was the most influential person in your theatre career?
My parents. They met onstage in a play. I grew up watching my Dad on Broadway, in films. My sisters act, dance, even choreograph stage combat. Truly, theater is like the sixth member of our family. The arts have always been part of our lives, our livelihoods. I know nothing else. I even met my husband onstage. Circular, isn't it?

12/23/2008

 

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