James Kautz is another one of our next generation performers on the rise! In addition to acting, he is the Co-Founder and Artistic Director of The Amoralists Theatre Company. As an actor, his theatrical credits include "Nobody Suspects a Butterfly" (Royal Family), "HAMLET-Prince of Denmark" (Mortals Theatre), Adam Rapp's "The Hallway Trilogy" (Rattlestick) and "Ghosts in the Cottonwoods" (The Amoralists). Also, with The Amoralists, James has starred in "The Pied Pipers of the Lower East Side," "Happy in the Poorhouse," "Hotel/Motel," and "Amerissiah."
Currently, James is starring alongside Anthony Rapp and Dee Roscioli in Gary Duggan's "Dedalus Lounge" at the Interart Theatre Annex (500 West 52 Street, 2nd Floor) through January 30th! Click here for tickets!
1. Who or what inspired you to become a performer? I was a senior in high school, about 6 months away from graduating when my English teacher, this crazy old, former thespian, had the class read Hamlet. I never thought of acting as a job or as a life. I was going to go to art school and be a painter. My home life was pretty hard at the time and I was kinda in a bad place. But everyday, our class would read Hamlet and dissect it. Dissect this guy's pain. And confusion. And it really helped me. A lot. I found that I would read this Danish guy’s words over and over again. Outside of class. Just to feel better. It stuck. I went to the guidance councilor and told her I was gonna go to NY to become an actor. And that was it. It was kinda on a spontaneous whim.
2. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? I once had a teacher tell me that I’d never work with Sam Sheppard, that he was too big a star, but that I could most definitely work with the next Sam Sheppard, the Sam Sheppard of the next generation. Now maybe I’ve done that, or maybe I haven’t. But I’d still like to prove that fuckin’ teacher wrong and work with the Sam Sheppard.
3. What attracted you to "Dedalus Lounge" and what do you hope audiences come away with after seeing the show? Dedalus Lounge to me is this bittersweet little story about three people trying to understand their love for each other in the face of growing older, and the fears that come along with that. It's about giving up on illusions and perhaps even recognizing dreams as illusions. That’s pretty heavy stuff. I like that. I identify with that fear. And, as I want with any play that I am a part of, I want the audience to identify with that fear. That struggle. I want them to find themselves in these characters.
4. What do yo identify with most about your character "Daragh"? Daragh…Daragh hides a lot of pain beneath charm. I tend to do that too. Hahaha. Cryptic.
5. What has been the best about performing with Anthony Rapp and Dee Roscioli? Obviously its been a joy. They’re both absolute pros. From moment one, both just hit the ground running. Neither are afraid to make mistakes and get their hands dirty and put their hearts out there. It’s what you want and need when building a story like this.
6. What's your favorite part of the rehearsal/preview period in a show? I tend to like rehearsal more than performance. The discovery is always the most fun for me. You wait the entire process for that one moment when all the clues and "personalizations" click into place and you finally “get” this character. Where that marriage between your inner world and a playwright’s creation just click. It usually happens on the most frustrating day of rehearsal, when you just finally surrender and then the light bulb finds you.
7. In addition to acting, you are the Artistic Director of The Amoralists Theatre Company, which I've had the pleasure of seeing their productions of "Ghosts in teh Cottonwoods" and "Hotel/Motel." How did you decide to start your own theatre company? What do you get from being the Artistic Director of The Amoralists that you don't get from acting? About 5 years ago, my two best buds, Derek Ahonen and Matthew Pilieci and I all decided to form The Amoralists. We came to the realization that we wanted some control over our lives and our art. We weren’t seeing the stories that inspired us being told, so we decided to do it ourselves. We formed a theatre company. And its been hell ever since. Hahaha.
Being an Artistic Director is something I have come to love and need. It’s a 24/7 job. It never stops. Ever. As an Artistic Director, its my job to be the conduit for every advisor, administrator, creative, designer, fan, donor and enemy associated with my company. Its my job to listen. To soak up all the voices and ideas of my community and translate it back to them in the form of a cohesive vision. That is my job as an Artistic Director.
An actor’s job is very similar in my opinion, only it is centralized to a character and a story. We listen and translate.
I’ve come to need both roles in my life. I like translating vision. There’s different degrees of pressure associated with both. I am also an actor within The Amoralists. So I have both pressures going on at the same time. The ulcer is growing.
Its kind of euphoric at this point to just be an actor in a play. Thank you Royal Family and Chris Henry!
8. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer and artistic director? I have learned that if I am not afraid it’s not worth doing. If the fear’s not there, something is wrong.
9. What's the best advice you've ever received? Keep searching.
10. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? She's got big blue eyes, that are sometimes green. That's all ya get.
11.Favorite way to spend your day off? Running around Prospect Park with my dog.
12. Boxers or Briefs? Boxer-briefs.
13. Superman or Wonder Woman? Batman, of course.