How have rehearsals been going so far?
Rehearsals have been great. We have great sessions filled with passion, intensity and truth-seeking with Michael, Ellen and the rest of the cast. Finding motivations and meaning in our characters’ actions and words has been a rewarding experience. We also find time to laugh a lot and whenever we can! Because you know…it’s very Greek!
What’s it like working with Michael Kahn and being part of his final show as Artistic Director of STC?
Working with Michael has been lovely and inspiring. It’s good to have your synapses fired up as an actor. I am overwhelmed not only by him, but also by the people that work with him. They are an amazing team and outstanding individually. Michael knows what he wants but allows us to explore options in our work to further and deepen our experience from moment to moment. If it’s working, we keep going. If not, we stop and do something different. It’s nice to work with a master who knows his craft and it’s always fun to explore those rabbit holes.
Being part of his final show is absolute honor and extremely humbling for me. His legacy and body of work speaks for itself and to have just a foot in that legacy is beyond anything. It’s really awesome.
How are you approaching a new adaptation of such a classic story and well-known character?
I believe in being real, open and earnest in approaching this version. I’m also taking what I know and feel my truth is—and what we are going through with current events in our world concerning politics, religion, conflict—and fusing them with this adaptation. This helps me understand the weight of the decisions and concerns I put into my words and actions as Agamemnon, so that they parallel with things that hit close to home with me.
Agamemnon has already had many adventures before we meet him in The Oresteia. How are you approaching that? Did you do any research?
Oh yes! You have to take the man and all that he has seen and done in his life—not only him but his family, his brother, and especially his father. The legacy of the House of Atreus is NOT A HAPPY ONE. It is filled with betrayal, incest, murder, and in some cases, light cannibalism. So when you have to be this man and be in his shoes, you have to understand where he’s coming from. It’s nice to get different versions of how he’s viewed so you can take what you like and use it in your own interpretation. I read books, articles and The Iliad, but we were also provided with research material by Ellen and STC. So it was very helpful.
What’s it like working with this modern interpretation of a Greek Chorus?
They’re very otherworldly to me. There is so much talent there. You have some legendary, professional and respectable actors in that Chorus. Look at their bios. They do so much and can take change in direction like the wind. It’s great to see them not only work movement with Jennifer (Archibald), getting rewrites and new pages from Ellen, but also work on connecting with text and each other with Michael. They are so important to this story, not only moving it along but telling it themselves. They play a big role in it. They’re not only a Chorus, they are individuals. They have their own life on that stage, but they move and think as one. I’m in awe every time. Working with them is an immense pleasure. I love playing with them when I get to. Man, they’re great!
What do you hope audiences take away from this production?
I feel this production is a reflective question: What do we do when we are witnesses to actions that lead to a legacy of brutality like that of the House of Atreus? What standards do we hold ourselves up to when we allow these actions to continue? Are we just as guilty for not speaking up? What do we do as a people or nation when individual ideas and choices clash with our sense of common good? Do we even consider the lasting effect it will have on the coming generations? Can we set aside our differences to look honestly our actions or non-actions? And still can we agree enough with each other to amend them?