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Entries in Play (79)

Tuesday
Oct242017

Call Answered: John Windsor-Cunningham: Brian Friel's "The Home Place" at Irish Rep

John Windsor-CunninghamI initially heard of The Home Place because of my friend Polly McKie, who's starring in the show alongside John Windsor-Cunningham. When I was approached about doing an interview with John, I just had to say yes! In addition to being a world-renowned actor, John is also one of NYC's top acting coaches. 

He is currently starring in Irish Repertory Theatre's production of Brian Friel's The Home Place, the story of "Christopher Gore," his son "David," and the housekeeper that they’re both in love with, and how their lives & their village are affected when "Christopher’s" cousin comes to town to prove his Darwin-inspired theory. He hopes that be measuring the craniums of the indigenous Irish people, he’ll prove their natural inferiority within the human race.

The Home Place plays at Irish Repertory Theatre through November 19. Click here for tickets!

For more on John be sure to visit http://windsor-cunningham.com and follow him on Facebook and Twitter!

1. Who or what inspired you to become an actor? What started me off was the fact that when I was a boy I was incredibly lonely and I somehow ended up going to the local theatre regularly and just fell in love with what seemed like a whole new world that existed there.

2. You are currently starring in Irish Repertory Theatre's production of Brian Friel's The Home Place. What made you want to be part of this show? There are some secrets that an actor doesn't want to share, but I will say that the play is simply so damned good. I love plays of all sorts, but am quite difficult to please, and Brian Friel quite simply knows how to write!

John Windsor-Cunningham in "The Home Place"3. What do you relate to most about your character "Christopher"? Hmm! Being a landlord, which I was in my spare time in the UK before I moved here. But I strongly believe actors should keep some of their thoughts secret, so if the truth is something to do with wanting to marry someone like my co-star I'm not going to say!

4. What is one characteristic of "Christopher" you are glad you don't possess yourself? I possess all sorts of characteristics, and there's none about "Christopher" which I truly would not be happy to have.

5. In The Home Place, your character "Christopher" & "Christopher's" son "David" are both in love with the housekeeper. When has there been a time in your life when you and someone else were in love with the same person and who eventually won out? I would always persevere, refusing not to 'win', whatever the situation, believing - out of pure, stupid, ego - that I would win her in the end! But there was one time when I was 'madly keen' on an actress in a show and the large, very overweight actor (a famous comedian, and this was long ago so nobody can guess who I'm describing now that way) managed, somehow, to get her to marry him, and I was amazed, and ridiculously jealous and ridiculously annoyed, but it was a long time ago, and it was definitely not 'love'. No, I've avoided that!

Stephen Pilkington, Christopher Randolph, Polly McKie, & John Windsor-Cunningham in "The Home Place"6. Eventually "Christopher’s" cousin comes to town to prove his Darwin-inspired theory. His cousin hopes that by measuring the craniums of the indigenous Irish people, he’ll prove their natural inferiority within the human race. Have you ever felt inferior to something before? If so, how did you come out on top? I often feel inferior to people! But the feeling just goes after five minutes, except when they are truly, truly great actors, in which case I can only work as hard as I can, and try to forget that I'm very, very far from perfect.

7. In addition to acting, you are an acting-coach. When did you decide you wanted to give back in this way? Soon after I moved permanently to the USA, ten years ago, I realized there are a few things about acting which I happen to know about, like one thing about Shakespeare that others seem to forget, and one about Harold Pinter, and I put a few dozen short videos on Youtube and suddenly lots of people asked for coaching. And because of Skype, it's easy, of course, to coach people all over the world.

8. What has been the best compliment a student ever gave you about your coaching? That would be much too arrogant to say, and they may have just been very, very polite!

9. What is one thing you learned from one of your students? That I'm often wrong.

10. Bringing the interview back to The Home Place. Where do you feel most at home? In The Home Place I have only one home, in Ireland. In real life it is very hard to say.

John Windsor-CunninghamMore on John:

John Windsor-Cunningham trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and with Sanford Meisner in New York where he now lives. He has worked with every major theater company in the UK, and many in the USA including The Old Globe (CA), Shakespeare & Co (MS), Triadstage (NC), and Theatreworks (CO). Additionally John has worked with prize winning Off-Broadway companies such as The Irish Rep, The Mint, The Peccadillo, and The Keen Company. In the UK, John has performed with The Royal Shakespeare Company, The Royal National Theatre’s Education Department, The Old Vic with Sir Anthony Quayle, The Royal Exchange Manchester with Sir Tom Courtney, and The Haymarket Theatre with Sir Donald Sinden. 

Monday
Oct162017

Call Answered: Carey Cox: "Glassheart," "The Glass Menagerie," and more!

Carey Cox, Photo Credit: Lauren Toub GriffithsAlmost everybody that knows me, knows what a sympathetic person I am. Maybe it's because I was born premature or because I grew-up with a learning disabilty, or because I felt like an outsider growing up, but whatever the reason, I love learning about people's lives and their struggles.

When I heard Carey Cox's story, I knew this was an interview I had to do! Carey is an actress with a mobility disability called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome who just made her Broadway debut understudying "Laura Wingfield" in Sam Gold's Glass Menagerie starring Sally Field.

Now, Carey is taking on her next role in Everyday Inferno's production of Reina Hardy's GLASSHEART a surprisingly modern and thoroughly adult spin on the classic story of Beauty & the Beast. Hardy's re-imagining explodes the limitations of traditional fairy tales, focusing its attention away from the ideal of conventional romance and toward something darker and much more complex: the question of what makes us human?

From being physically abled to disabled, Carey is showing the world, she is just like everyone else and we really get to the heart of it all...from acting to Lin-Manuel Miranda to life struggles to an exclusive heartbreaking story you'll only find here at Call Me Adam!

GLASSHEART will make its New York premiere at The Access Theater (380 Broadway) from October 19-28. Click here for tickets!

Carey Cox, Photo Credit: Malloree Delayne Hill1. Who or what inspired you to be an actress? Since my first school play at six years old I've had kind of a one-track mind. I always loved becoming other people and getting to live vicariously through characters. I think that I liked being able to do things that I couldn't do in my normal life. Over time, theatre gave me an excuse to learn and a jumping-off point to do research I never would have thought to do by myself. I was kind of a shy kid when I wasn't at home, and I still am in some ways, and theatre always gave me a way to connect with other wonderful weirdos. In high school, I became obsessed with Carol Burnett and was cast as "Winnifred" in Once Upon a Mattress, a role she originated. It was silly and over the top and to this day some of the most fun I've ever had. It was then that I also started to appreciate the special connection that can occur between an audience and an actor, and among all of the people witnessing the event, and that touched me deeply. Theatre had always been my passion but doing that play definitely sealed the deal!

2. Did you ever let your disability prevent you from pursuing this career path or did you keep telling yourself, "I can do this"? I was born with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, but wasn't diagnosed until a few years ago, and it's only been a couple of years since I became what the world sees as physically disabled. My disability was never really an obstacle in high school or college. It began to affect me a lot more in grad school, and I had an especially difficult time in my movement classes, I think because there isn't a format for how disabled people should be trained in a field that tends to favor athletic able-bodied people. My disability never affected my decision to become an actor because when I fell in love with acting I was able-bodied, and I could run and dance and pull all-nighters, and no one questioned my place in the theatre. My experience is different from other people I know who have been disabled their whole lives, and who have had the added obstacle of people questioning their place in theatre from the get-go. Becoming disabled has taught me a lot about people and a lot about my body, and I think I've become a richer artist because of it. The main way I let it hold me back currently is through auditioning. I have a very bad habit of looking at a casting call and thinking, "well surely they wouldn't want ME." I need to get over that because I don't think I'm giving directors and casting directors the benefit of the doubt, and I'm not representing my community in all its disabled glory! One thing is for sure: I'm not quitting any time soon.

3. What made you want to audition for Glassheart? My friend Malloree Delayne Hill, who is a wonderful actress, has been involved with Everyday Inferno for a while, so when I saw the audition notice, there was a little "ping!" in my brain. When I read the plot summary and the sides I was smitten. It was obvious to me that this play is funny and special, and that I would have a ball being a part of it and getting to say those great words.

4. What do you relate to most about you character "Aoife"? What is one characteristic of hers you are glad you don't possess yourself? That's a tough one, because I think I possess all of "Aiofe's" qualities to some degree. What I like most about "Aiofe" is her self-awareness. She has a lot of problems, but she knows she has problems and she wants to do better. She knows that she hurts people and makes mistakes, but she always comes to a point where she can confront herself and see the truth of what she's doing. I certainly hope I haven't hurt people in the way that "Aiofe" probably has, but I can appreciate the frankness with which she looks at herself. Something else I really appreciate about "Aiofe" is her open heart. When she meets the "Beast," she is ready to help and accept him, despite his strange behavior. I think that "Aiofe" has a lot of empathy and when she looks at someone she quite literally sees the human before the beast.

However, "Aiofe" and I are in very different places in our lives. At the top of the play, "Aiofe" is barely capable of functioning and her ambitions are heart-breakingly simple. "Aiofe" is starting over, whereas I feel like I have been building a life that I love for years, so I don't envy her. Though for "Aiofe," starting over is the right thing to do.

Carey Cox5. What do you think this show will teach people? I think that people might see this show and think about how we see our lives as stories. The stories we tell ourselves about ourselves have a huge effect on our behavior and what roles we play in life. I see so many juicy lessons in this fairytale but my favorite one is this: sometimes we are trapped by our own narratives, and sometimes, when our life doesn't follow our projected story, the only way to find contentment is to let the story go.

6. Glassheart explores the space between light & dark. With all the recent tragedies we've been having from the deadly hurricanes, the shooting in Vegas, and so many others, how do you find the light in the darkness? Knowledge is a light. Lately I am trying to listen and to keep my mouth shut. I'm trying to question what I think I know and actually hear what people say when they talk. I'm finding light in other people. I'm reaching out to friends, I'm meeting eyes on the street, I'm talking to people on the subway. I'm laughing as much as I can. When I look at people, I'm trying to see the human before the beast.

7. The show also shows the sacrifices we make in search of an ordinary life. What sacrifices, if any, have you made in your life and art? I don't think I've made any sacrifices on a grandiose scale, but having a painful chronic illness means I sacrifice a lot of little things every day to be able to remain reliable in this collaborative art form. I was always taught that real actors never get sick. Well, no disrespect, but I'm literally always sick. To make sure that I am strong and alert enough to work during rehearsal hours, I don't do a lot of the things I want to do. I work a job with very flexible hours so that I can work a ton when I'm healthier but take it easy on myself when I'm not doing so well. I have to ration my energy because if I overdo it one day, I will pay for it for days after. It gets me down being so young and having to treat myself so delicately, but there are beautiful spiritual side effects from living life at a slower pace in this city. That sounds cheesy but for me it's been so true!

Carey Cox, Photo Credit: Lauren Toub Griffiths8. Glassheart is a take on the classic story of Beauty & The Beast. If you were to star in a revival or remake of Beauty and the Beast, Who would you want as "The Beast" to your "Belle"? My best friend thinks the last beast should have been Dev Patel and I think she's seriously onto something. However, Lin Manuel Miranda. Though to be fair, if you asked me that question about pretty much any show, I would say "Lin Manuel Miranda."

9. I find it quite funny that you recently finished your run in the Broadway revival of The Glass Menagerie starring Sally Field and now you are starring in a show called Glassheart. So, both shows have the word "glass" in them. Since glass is so fragile what is the most fragile thing about yourself you keep hidden, but maybe now, with so much uncertainty around us, you are ready to reveal? Something I don't talk about much is the loss of my brother and sister. I lost my brother when I was 16 and my sister a couple of years ago. I've had the support of wonderful family and friends and moving to New York has been incredibly healing, but it's something I struggle with. You never know who might be harboring a secret pain. Maybe even the guy being a jerk on the train. I promise I didn't intend for that to rhyme, but I'm keeping it.

10. What was it like acting with Sally Field? What did you learn from her? Sally Field was wonderful! She kept everybody laughing and was incredibly kind. I got the chance to act with her one time when I went on as "Laura's" understudy, and she made me feel so comfortable and safe. What I learned most from her came from watching her in the rehearsal room. For me it was a terrific example of how great work is not only emotionally connected, but also logical and smart. I was so lucky to get to watch that caliber of work in process.

In my own rehearsals I worked mostly with Sally Field's incredible understudy, Kathryn Meisle, who is fiercely talented and was a joy to act with every week. She gave me wonderful acting and life advice and boosted my confidence with her kindness. I was lucky to work with amazing people then, and I'm working with amazing people now! I've been very lucky. New York has been very kind to me!

Carey Cox, Photo Credit: Malloree Delayne HillMore on Carey:

Carey Cox is an NYC actress with a mobility disability called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. She received a BFA in musical theater from Santa Fe University of Art and Design and an MFA in acting from UNC Chapel Hill where she performed with PlayMakers Repertory Company in Three Sisters, Seminar, Mary’s Wedding, We are Proud to Present…, Trouble in Mind, Into the Woods, Metamorphoses, and others. Carey recently made her Broadway debut understudying "Laura Wingfield" in The Glass Menagerie directed by Sam Gold.

Tuesday
Oct032017

Call Redialed: Alison Fraser: "Squeamish" by Aaron Mark, All For One Theater

After providing coverage for Aaron Mark's two previous plays Empanada Loca & Another Medea, I'm so excited to get the inside scoop on his third psychological horror play, Squeamish, in this new interview with the show's star, two-time Tony nominee Alison Fraser! Alison & Aaron have known each other for several years now, so it's rather exciting to hear about their collaboration and find out how Alison prepares herself every night for this darkly twisted adventure!

Squeamish is the tale of an Upper West Side psychoanalyst, a long-time recovering alcoholic whose bloody quest for personal balance begins when she finds herself in the South Plains of Texas, off her meds, after her nephew's suicide.

Squeamish, produced by All For One Theater, will play The Beckett Theatre at Theatre Row (410 West 42nd Street) from October 6-November 11. Click here for tickets!

For more on Alison be sure to visit http://alisonfraser.com and follow her on Twitter and Instagram!

1. You are currently starring in All For One Theater's production of Aaron Mark's psychological horror play Squeamish. First, how did you and Aaron come to know each other? What does it feel like to have a role written specifically for you? Aaron and I met when he was assistant directing a reading that I was doing. I believe he was 18 or 19. Five years after this reading he contacted me about a part he had written for me in an excellent little indie film called Commentary he was directing. I read the script, and immediately fell madly in love with his writing. I accepted the role, and have continued to work with him ever since. Having a role written for you is a huge honor of course, and I have been incredibly lucky to have worked on many original plays and musicals for some of the greatest writers around. When you are involved in the creation of a piece, naturally pieces of you end up in the finished product, but my artistic connection with Aaron is very deep. He obviously sees something intriguing in me because he has written five pieces, all of them quite dark, specifically for me. One was very much inspired by a jarring incident in my life -- Deer - a wonderfully funny and scary play about the crazed deer that tried to commit suicide on my car. It's being produced around the country now, and has been published by Dramatists Play Service. Now, thanks to #TheTwistedMindOfAaronMark (yes I came up with that hashtag and he likes it) the deer did not die in vain-now he belongs to the ages. And as for having had Aaron write the astonishing Squeamish for me? He's plumbing depths I had no idea I possessed. It’s thrilling, and more than a little frightening. He saw that in me?

2. What has been the best part about working with Aaron? How does his vision as a playwright line up with what you look for in looking for parts to play? Not only is Aaron a sensational writer and a highly skilled director, he is one of the sweetest, smartest, funniest hardest working people I have ever met. The best part of working with Aaron is getting to be in the room with him every day.

As for his plays? They are exactly what plays should be--inventive, original, dangerous, passionate and challenging. 45-pages-of-solo-dialogue challenging. Who was it that said if theatre doesn't scare you it's not worth doing? With Squeamish, I am shaking in my shoes.

Alison Fraser, "Squeamish", Photo Credit: Mara Baranova3. What do you relate to most about your character? What is one characteristic of hers that you are glad you don't possess yourself? I relate to "Sharon's" sense of wonder and discovery, her need to explore what makes her tick, her independence, and of course her low key New York fashion savvy.

As for part two of the question? I am seriously glad that aside from that little pill glitch mentioned below, addiction does not seem to be in my tool belt.

4. How do you prepare yourself mentally & physically for such a heavy show each night? I stopped drinking completely for this show, because I realized I needed all the brain cells I could possibly muster. I try to sleep well, and walk as much as possible. I eat very simple, usually home-prepared food, except for the insidious and delicious Reese's peanut butter eyeballs that keep showing up in rehearsal. They are addictive, which is apropos of our show.

And as for mentally? I will go through the show at home before I perform at night, just to make sure all the pieces are in right order. I already do it on the street & a lot and people are starting to give me a wide berth.

Alison Fraser, "Squeamish", Photo Credit: Mara Baranova5. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing Squeamish? I hope after seeing Squeamish people come away with the feeling that they have just seen a world premiere of a play by an important new playwright, and the realization that actors can indeed (hopefully) hold single court for an hour and a half or so just by telling a compelling, beautifully written story. Not all theatre needs the Phantom’s chandelier.

6. Your character is long-time recovering alcoholic. Have you ever been addicted to anything? If so, how did you recover? I had about a year in my life when a very bad doctor would call in Xanax and Prednisone prescriptions for me whenever I asked for it. Recovery? I think the show that was stressing me out closed, and my anxiety waned and I didn't have to belt long high notes for a while so I just stopped taking the pills.

Alison Fraser, "Squeamish", Photo Credit: Mara Baranova7. "Sharon" is also on a quest to find personal balance. How do you find the balance between work and personal life? Right now my work life is my personal life because of the nature of the Squeamish beast. I basically live like a hermit and am zero fun, because of the daunting task I face. But I am looking forward to the time when I can get out to my sweet little place in the country again and relax without words words words occupying my brain. And reading a book again will be nice. And oh for a glass of fine red wine!

8. The character you play is a psychoanalyst. If you had to psychoanalyze yourself, what is something you feel you need to change about yourself to improve your life? I really have to stop taking politics so seriously because it has led me in this past year down a dark dark path. My doctor and I are working on it. Switching from the constant CNN feed to an occasional Modern Family helps. Temporarily.

9. Since the show is titled Squeamish, what makes you most squeamish? Easy answer. Salt pork. I wish it didn't exist in the world because even the thought of it makes my skin crawl. And don't even get me started on fried pork rinds.

More on Alison:

Alison Fraser was recently seen as "Mommy" in Lila Neugebauer’s production of Edward Albee’s The Sandbox and "The Landlady" in Adrienne Kennedy’s Funnyhouse of a Negro at The Signature Theatre, in addition to "Nancy Reagan" and "Betty Ford" in Michael John LaChiusa’s First Daughter Suite at the Public Theater, for which she was nominated for both a Drama Desk and Lucille Lortel Award. She is a two-time Tony Award nominee for The Secret Garden and Romance/Romance. Other Broadway roles includes "Dorine" in Tartuffe at Circle-In-The-Square, "Helena" in The Mystery of Edwin Drood, and "Tessie Tura" in Arthur Laurents’ production of Gypsy starring Patti LuPone. She has created many roles Off-Broadway including "Arsinoé" in David Ives’ The School For Lies, "Sister Walburga" in Charles Busch’s The Divine Sister, "Jessie" in Terrence McNally’s Dedication or the Stuff of Dreams, "The Matron" (opposite Shirley Knight) in the world premiere of Tennessee Williams’ In Masks Outrageous and Austere, "Trina" in William Finn’s March of the Falsettos and In Trousers, and "Miss Drumgoole" in Todd Rundgren’s Up Against It. Film and TV credits include the new SyFy series Happy! opposite Chris Meloni, High Maintenance, Happyish, Smash, It Could Be Worse, Impossible Monsters, Blowtorch, Socks and Bonds, Understudies, Jack in A Box, and The Thing About My Folks opposite Peter Falk and Paul Reiser. She has been heard on thousands of radio and television commercials, hundreds of audiobooks, and dozens of albums, including three solo efforts: A New York Romance, Men In My Life, and Tennessee Williams: Words and Music.

Wednesday
Sep272017

Call Redialed: Andy Halliday: "Up The Rabbit Hole" at Theater for the New City

Andy Halliday, Photo Credit: Kevin CristaldiIt has been almost a decade since I first saw Andy Halliday Charles Busch's Times Square Angel at Theater for the New City. Over the years I've gotten to know Andy through the interviews we've done together. But this interview, about Andy's new play Up The Rabbit Hole, is the most raw & vulnerable I've seen Andy. With love, hope, and bravery, Andy really pulls back the curtain giving us a rare view into his life, both past and present, including the struggles and successes he has gone through.

Up The Rabbit Hole, directed by G.R. Johnson, is the story of a young gay man who, desperate to find answers to questions that consume his life as an adopted child, becomes obsessed with tracking down and connecting with his birth mother. His lack of identity in these formative years has led to a life of careless sexual exploits and reckless drug use. When he finally finds his mother, the answers he has been searching for his entire life finally give him the courage to combat his drug addiction and climb out of the darkness and Up The Rabbit Hole.

Up The Rabbit Hole is playing at Theater for the New City through October 15 only! Click here for tickets!

1. It's so great to catch up with you Andy on your new show Up The Rabbit Hole, a story of a young man who, desperate to find answers to questions that consume his life as an adopted child, becomes obsessed with tracking down and connecting with his birth mother. This production draws from your own life experience. What made now the right time to write such a personal piece of theatre? I love plays about dysfunction. If they’re well written, and they’re written from the heart, I identify with them. I learn something about myself. This play, Up The Rabbit Hole, has been in me for a long time. And after Nothing But Trash, I felt more confident as a playwright, and I also wanted to write something more naturalistic. This idea gave me the opportunity to do that.

2. What did you learn about yourself from writing this show? I learned that I get upset over the little things in life, the little things that in the long run aren’t worth getting upset about. I learned that I created a lot of stress for myself trying to be perfect. Always assuming that being imperfect kept me from fitting in, when in all reality, I just didn’t want to fit in. I wanted to isolate and protect myself from everyone and everything. I had a million excuses as to why I wasn’t successful as an actor. I blamed my failure on everyone else, rather than looking within, and seeing how I had sabotaged myself because of my lack of self-esteem. I was creating the failure, and to escape those feelings of inadequacy, I took to artificial substances to make myself feel better. But coming down from those "highs" only made my depression and self-hatred worse. I learned from writing this play, that I’m a completely different person than the one I was twenty-six years ago, and that I’m very grateful.

The cast of Andy Halliday's "Up The Rabbit Hole," Quinn Coughlin, Andrew Glaszek, Tyler Jones, Laralu Smith and Peter Gregus, , Photo Credit: Kevin CristaldiQuinn Couglin in Andy Halliday's "Up The Rabbit Hole", Photo Credit: Kevin Cristaldi3. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing Up The Rabbit Hole? To be more gentle with themselves. More forgiving of people who have substance abuse issues. But also an understanding of how to deal with the addict. Understanding the meaning of "tough love" and how it can help the person you care about get themselves into some sort of program. To love one’s self, warts and all. And there’s no such thing as a perfect person.

4. What has it been like to watch this cast bring your story to life? G.R. Johnson and I have been blessed with an amazing group of actors who are helping to bring a story of my past to life again. This play is pushing a lot of buttons in me watching rehearsals every night. I think sometimes if I got to do my life all over again, if I had known better, would I have gone down this path? Well, if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t be the person I am now. And I like who I am, and I love the people that are in my life. I had to go through this awful time, the lowest point in my whole life, to begin developing self-esteem. It is so good to see how much my friends care about me. I really cherish them and my new sober life. But as I said, this play has been a very emotional experience, and no matter how much I tell myself "it’s in the past," and it’s just a play about a young man searching through life to find the answers to who he is and how he got here, it’s still tough.  The lead actor Tyler Jones, who’s so wonderful, said to me after a run through, "How did you live this life!  I’m exhausted!"

Quinn Couglin in Andy Halliday's "Up The Rabbit Hole", Photo Credit: Kevin CristaldiPeter Gregus and Tyler Jons in Andy Halliday's "Up The Rabbit Hole", Photo Credit: Kevin Cristaldi5. When were you at your loneliest? I’ve always been lonely. It’s just something so ingrained in me. But you deal with it, by of course reaching out to friends and family. It’s easier said than done, for me at least. I’m a loner and I’m very protective of myself. I’ve built up walls that have taken years to break down. I take a long time to trust others, due in part to my chaotic upbringing. But a day at a time I’m able to open up and let people in a little bit at a time. I’m surrounded by such loving friends and family. I’m extremely lucky and grateful for the people in my life. And perhaps one day, a door will open in that wall, to let in "Mr. Right." Who knows.

6. When did you first decide you wanted to find your birth mother? How long did it take to find her? Was the meeting everything you wanted? Did you stay in touch with your birth mother after finding her? I’ve always known I was adopted. My adoptive parents believed that it shouldn’t be a secret. So it was an obsession of mine. I felt that because I was adopted I was always an outsider. My parents loved me more than life itself and did anything and everything for me but I felt like I was bought. My mother registered me with a free search agency in CT. I was working Off-Broadway at the time, and was in the beginnings of my habit, so I forgot about it. But I don’t want to give away what’s in the play.

And yes meeting my birth mother was everything I hoped for. It was surreal, quite unbelievable. She was a lovely, gentle woman and we stayed in touch till she passed away. She gave me a beautiful china rose, which I still have. It’s funny that it was a rose, because my adopted mother’s name was Rose.

Tyler Jones, Laralu Smith, and Andrew Glaszek in Andy Halliday's "Up The Rabbit Hole", Photo Credit: Kevin CristaldiQuinn Couglin and Tyler Jones in Andy Halliday's "Up The Rabbit Hole", Photo Credit: Kevin Cristaldi7. As a result of you finding your birth mother, you were able to combat your drug addiction and climb out of the darkness. What was the hardest part about kicking your drug addiction? What has been the best part about being clean? The hardest part was giving up a drug that gave me a false sense of security, happiness, self-esteem, courage and one that made me feel sexy. All of this could have been done with just a couple of bumps, but by the time I went into rehab, I was really broken, and it took months to get everything out of my system. It messes up your endorphins - the thing in your brain that makes you feel better - and putting artificial stuff in your system screws with these endorphins, and now they need that substance to work.

The best thing about getting clean was that I got my life back. I have my artistic career again, but it’s different now. I own it. My life and the way I deal with things is my way, and that attitude attracts positive, artistic people. Like my dear friend and collaborator G.R. Johnson. None of my new success as a writer would have happened without him. He’s my rock, and so talented, and he makes me laugh, and laugh. He’s one of the funniest people I know.

8. Since you felt a lack of identity, during your formative years, when would you say you found who you were? I began to find myself after I began to get sober. I had to face my demons head on. It gave me strength, and my new friends loved me and enabled me to love myself. But it took years, and I’m still not completely there. Maybe I never will be, but my life is much better than it ever was.

9. What would Andy of today tell Andy of yesterday? Love yourself. Be kind to yourself. See who your real friends are. Everything works out the way it’s supposed to. Don’t try to control everything. Life is as wonderful as you make it. You only got one honey….

Andy HallidayMore on Andy:

Andy Halliday was part of Charles Busch’s and Kenneth Elliott’s Theatre-In-Limbo Company from 1984 to 1991. He originated roles in the Off-Broadway productions of Vampire Lesbians of Sodom, Psycho Beach Party, Times Square Angel, Red Scare On Sunset and The Lady In Question, for which he won the "Scene Stealer of the Month Award" from Playbill, and Hirschfeld created a caricature of him in the role as "Lotte" for the New York Times. He wrote and acted in I Can’t Stop Screaming in 1991. In 2004, he formed Pocketwatch Films, Inc. and has written, directed, and produced six films. It is his mission to make films about gay men and women, and explore the realities of what happens beyond "coming out." Dealing candidly with sex, drug addiction, and aging, he endeavors to make films with heart, humor, and honesty that are also incredibly sexy. In 2011, he was featured in the Off-Broadway comedy Devil Boys From Beyond, directed by Kenneth Elliott. And in 2014, he wrote and starred in Nothing But Trash, which was produced at Theater For The New City and directed by G.R. Johnson. He hopes to continue to create theatre that explores important issues within the queer community.

Tuesday
Aug012017

Call Answered: James Kiberd: "The Crusade of Connor Stephens" + "All My Children"

James KiberdI am a huge All My Children fan and I love getting to catch with AMC alum, so needless to say, it was an honor to get to interview actor James Kiberd, best known as "Trevor Dillon" on ABC's All My Children from 1989-2000 (the uncle to "Hayley Vaughn," played by Kelly Ripa). After almost 11 years of not being able to act, James Kiberd is making his triumphant stage return in the Off-Broadway play The Crusade of Connor Stephens.

In The Crusade of Connor Stephens, extreme loss shakes a Texas family as it comes to terms with a tragic act of gun violence. In the midst of widespread media attention, their story becomes an allegory for the national debate over religion, tolerance, and the seedlings of hate. With humor and resilience, they will confront the ghosts of the past and discover the brutal universal truths that define the American family in the 21st century.

The Crusade of Connor Stephens will play through August 6 only! Click here for tickets! 

There will be a special live streaming on Thursday, August 3 at 8pm! Click here for more info!

For more on The Crusade of Connor Stephens be sure to visit https://www.crusade2017.com and follow the show on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

1. Who or what inspired you to be an actor? Gee it’s almost 40 years ago. Grants in support of my art making (I am a Painter) had lead to some expertise in arts management and a consultation for Joe Brancato’s Penguin Repretory. He asked me to audition for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. I said to myself…Acting? Phony Baloney! But, I knew I wouldn’t get it, so why do it. Then, I imagined that some day, I could be comforting a disappointed daughter after being turned down for a role she sorely wanted. "Honey, Dad auditioned for a role once and didn’t get it. I know how you feel, you’ll be ok." Only, I got the part…and, sadly, not the daughter.  My life was forever changed.

As a painter, you spend 12-15 hours a day alone. For years on end. You are the center of that Universe. Not so as an Actor. It’s about the other person! OMG! Relationship! Something at which I was totally inept. But, my God, I needed it so! Joe Brancato kept me working as an actor and brought me into the "wild unknown," with a sure and steady hand. Over the years, I returned to Penguin to some great roles on that delicious stage.

My working relationship twixt graphic art and acting is keen. There is a solid "click" of recognition of "rightness" when working with Art’s physical materials. Not so with Acting, however, where impulses, emotions, relationships, bring ever changing moments different from every moment that came before, especially in front of an audience. My thrill is to bring the "click" to the acting and the emotion and impulse to the art. Serious Fun.

2. You are currently starring in the new Off-Broadway play, The Crusade of Connor Stephens, about a Texas family who suffers extreme loss as a result of gun violence. What made you want to be part of this show? As you may or may not know, 10/12/17 will be the 11th anniversary of the stage injury that took me out of commission for years. These past 10 years has been spent trying to find a way back to functionality through four operations. So, on May 9, 2016 (my hip replacement day), I woke up in my hospital bed to find a new play script forwarded to me by an actor I know and respect, Ben Curtis, with a request for me to read and consider the key role. I was astounded! Reticent - no terrified - to even consider it. But, I told myself, "it came to you - read it James." I read it. Enthralled, I asked my wife to bring me "Lear" - the next role I wanted. After I read it, I went back to Crusade.

Through the haze of the drugs, I found a profoundly disruptive play, lead by one of the most soulfully despicable characters ever written. A play that hangs our era in it’s own noose of contradiction and ultimately shows us a way to redemption. Though terrified of this challenge; I just had to play this part. This was worth getting out of bed for! Could I do it? I can’t even walk! Rehearsals were starting in four weeks! I started writing the producer/director/ writer, Dewey Moss to let him know I was interested. I told him I wanted to audition so we all would know what we were getting. He offered to drive out of NYC to meet & audition me in seven days - my first day out of rehab.

Saturday at 9am, I met him at the door - asked "Coffee?" "No." "Water?" "I’m good." So, I handed him the script as he came through the door and started the scenes as he found his way to a chair in the kitchen. No small talk. 20 minutes later, he was doubled over in between tears and laughter. "You have no idea how I have been trying to figure out ways to tell you how you are just not right for the role. It is such an impossible challenge…but you're perfect! Now I have to ask you - will you do it, really do it? And why? It's only a festival - three performances - and a lot of time and effort to rehearse in the city. Why would you want to do this?"

"I am doing this for me - me alone - not to get another job (as actors will do) - not for notice - not for PR. I want to see if I can still act, if I enjoy it, if I can pull off such a wickedly ambitious role.

First, my old friend, Bryan Cranston, saw the Festival Performance and compared this piece to All My Sons by Arthur Miller. "It gives us the picture of our times and the ethics, morals and values we need to live by. There is great humor, pacing, tension and passion wrapped into a compelling story."  Then, Crusade won all of the main Awards in the festival, so we were off to the races.

Dewey’s play sears a brand in the side of the times asking Americans to meet each other face-to-face in a conversation over who we love, what we do with guns, what is fact, what is belief, what is truth—what we kill for, what we live for, how and why do we pray?

James Kiberd in "The Crusade of Connor Stephens", Photo Credit: Russ Rowland3. What do you relate to most about your character? What is one characteristic of his you are glad you don't possess yourself? Strong, relentless surety and promulgation of his truths. Passion.

I am staggered how people hate him so. Perhaps because he so resonates our current leader…though "Big Jim" is much more rigorously trained in his thinking. At the same time, I have had audience members claim he changed their point of view.

West of NJ to California he could be seen as a hero. The play is so well-crafted, that the points of view could shift according to the community where it is performed.

His is a "truth not tolerance" position. Furthest from my own position.

4. Guns have been killing people for years, but it seems we hear about a massive shooting somewhere almost every day of our lives. How do you feel this show will either help someone who's been affected by one of these deadly shootings or perhaps change the way someone feels about instilling stronger gun laws? Wow! That’s an impossible question because it doesn’t involve common sense. In my experience, the only time people really take gun control seriously is when they get shot in the face. Any and all assumptions we maintain about positions on these issues only become relevant when we have direct experience of the event, its horror and the people affected. We Americans need to meet each other face-to-face in a conversation over who we love, what we do with guns, what is fact, what is belief, what is truth; what we kill for, what we live for, how and why we pray? These are not issues that merely decorate the glorious tree of America. No, No. These are the "divers-est" roots that grow that tree strong. The healthy conflict of ideas and passions that are the very roots of our Constitution. America needs the feeding of face-to-face compassion, humor and brutal talk - - that is our America. Crusade brings all these issues forward in an almost sporting event immediacy. A prize fight for the Soul of America.

James Kiberd and Ben Curtis in "The Crusade of Connor Stephens", Photo Credit: Russ Rowland5. How do you find the resilience to get through rough times in your own life? Having been disabled for the past 10 years, this is a question to which I have too many answers. Really listening to what the body is saying is both complex and simple. But of paramount importance. Having had four doctors tell me I am fine when I sure didn’t feel fine, I finally found whiz bang PT at West Side Dance in Lincoln Center who could tell me why and what was so dysfunctional. Two years of hard work, 21 exercises a day brought me a new me. Also, Alexander Training is an truly liberating process.

My wife keeps joy in my life. And she reminds me that our dogs (born in our house) have opened my heart, my garden teaches me each day (humility) and nature so soothes and inspires me. I have learned, finally, that The Dark Funk changes when I move - yes physically move.

6. In this show, the family confronts the ghosts of their past. What is one past ghost you've confronted? PTSD - always needs to be respected and tended. My father - a WWII vet never dealt with his PTSD and passed it on to his family. This is something I share with my Crusade character.

Kathleen Huber and James Kiberd in "The Crusade of Connor Stephens", Photo Credit: Russ Rowland7. From this confrontation, the family discovers the brutal truth that defines the American family of the 21st century. What is the most brutal truth you've discovered about yourself that you fought so hard not to believe? I think more than one brutal truth is discovered in the play…I‘ll say again, "We Americans need to meet each other face-to-face in a conversation over who we love, what we do with guns, what is fact, what is belief, what is truth; what we kill for, what we live for, how and why we pray?  These are not issues that merely decorate the glorious tree of America. No, No. These are the "divers-est" roots that grow that tree strong. The healthy conflict of ideas and passions that are the very roots of our Constitution. America needs the feeding of face-to-face compassion, humor and brutal talk - - that is our America. Crusade brings all these issues forward in an almost sporting event immediacy. A prize fight for the Soul of America.

I am not sure how to answer this question without sounding full of bull. But I asked my wife and she immediately said it, "Honey, for some reason, you don’t feel worthy of love." I am still working on it. My Alexander teacher, Judith Stern, noticed a couple of things immediately when we started. When she would work with me, she noticed that my eyes were always moving. This was me trying to remember and analyze the experience I was having. She suggested that I could either have the analysis or the experience but not both. That I could allow myself to just have the experience and begin to trust that. She also noticed that when she encouraged me to see, take in what was around me, that I would look. What happens when I "look" is I focus hard and tend to thrust my head a bit forward which moves the head out of alignment and breaks the easy flow of energy in the spine, triggering "fight or flight" response. This kind of "looking habit" usually arises in a child when the person who was to nurture that child was in fact dangerous to that child.

And ………………………………………

Common Sense

And …………………………………..

The parts of me that I share with Trump. He reminds me every day of the selfish, thoughtless, small minded, fatuous, un thinking, pompous, lying, lazy glutton that I could so easily become.

James Kiberd8. I can't do an interview with you without asking about your time on one of my favorite soaps, All My Children. From 1989-2000, you played "Trevor Dillon," uncle to "Hayley Vaughn," played by Kelly Ripa. First, why did you want to be part of the All My Children family? What was the best part about working with Kelly Ripa? Can you tell us one fun juicy tale from your time on the show? Kelly was an unspoiled bundle of life and joy that I wanted to play with. Whatever I could share with her was immediately soaked up and made her own. The intimacy we had was blood family in nature. Just that matter of course kind of thing. She told me right away that her dream was not so much the acting but to be a talk show host! Well Well Bang Zoom Hip Hip HoooRaaay!

Why AMC? and Juicy? Here goes! A five day gig turned into 11 years. I had been developing a character in experimental theatre from my sense that by the year 2020 America would no longer be a "White" society. That we needed to encounter other world/third world cultures—their morals and ethics. On the morning of my first day after having come home during the night from a trip, I asked my wife if she liked my "look" for the part. In her sleepiness she said "What’s with the beard and the pony tail? You look like a pirate! AMC won’t go for that! "That’s what I want!" said I. She joked, "Then you need an earring." I grabbed one of hers, poked a hole in my ear, went off to AMC with my bloody booty."  At first, they wouldn’t let me in the building - so scruffy was I. Ha!

After camera rehearsal, I got called to the the producer’s office (Felicia Behr). I walked in saying, "I know, cut the hair, shave the beard, axe the earring." "No, No, NO!" she said "Would you be interested in a three year contract?" "I have to think about it" said I. The next day I suggested that I write a background description of the character I would like to play for the writers to consider. To my surprise, she said great.  When I submitted a 22-page document detailed to costume, set, lingo, accent and music, she was surprised and then sent it to the writers. Couple of days later, she told me they loved it! And would go ahead with my character as presented. Six months was my first contract. I wasn’t sure they, AMC, would or could really do it.

Well they went along with my creation! All the names I made up for the characters on the show, the wild outfits ,the Runyonesque lingo and the other world values. At my first public appearance the first audience question asked was "What planet is this guy ("Trevor"/my character) from? I knew we all were on to something special. The shows rating went from #7 to #2 rickety split and I was having some Serious Fun!

Katherine Leask and James Kiberd in "The Crusade of Connor Stephens", Photo Credit: Russ Rowland9. Since 2001, for the most part, you have focused on stage/film work as opposed to TV. Why did you choose to focus more on the stage and film? What do you get from this work that you weren't getting from TV? Acting Chops. Bad ass scary adventures. Every day I give up what I know for what I might discover. (me). You can’t do something that you don’t know, if you keep on doing what you do know. (FM Alexander).

AND my new agents in LA gave me two pieces of advice….

1) Lose weight and whiten your teeth!

2) And if you really want to act you need to find away to do some theatre. We would love to see you acting.

Well, I invited them to come see me about four months later. I was opening as "Gabbo the Clown" in Merchant of Venice on a Friday Night , Saturday 10am was Henry IV Part I, 2pm Henry IV Part II, 8pm Henry V. They didn’t come. And told me they couldn’t work with me as I was to busy doing theater an not available for TV!

10. On "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent every day. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent better every day? Joy. (which means doing what my wife, dogs and garden tell me to do) My acting. My art making. My Garden. My dogs (they are major hunters and need a lot of clean up) Spinning! House keeping, Friends…..Have you read Twyla Tharps books?