Actually, Artists at Play. Their interest in the work led ME to be interested in the work because I know that they have a great eye on talent and are excellent at fostering incredible stories. Anything they are interested is always worth a look. Then I saw Leah Nanako Winkler’s Kentucky and was immediately blown away by her unique voice as a playwright. It is at once so raw and fresh and so witty and sophisticated. I told myself that it would be an achievement for me to be a good enough actor to pull off a play of hers, and so I took the opportunity when it came. So far, I’m failing wonderfully.
How would you describe your character?
I play Christopher Donnelly, the son of a famous movie star, and the epitome of privilege. He’s handsome, charming, and rich — which for the right/white person is often more than enough to be successful in life. Of course, he’s not without his own hang-ups, and just like the rest of the Donnellys, he’s very good at convincing everyone around him that his struggles are incredibly deserving of your attention and sympathy. Rich, beautiful people have their problems too.
Why do you do theatre with small companies like Artists at Play?
What I like about small companies like Artists at Play is that they have such a pure respect for the artistry involved. Often times, the complexities of business and politics can shape the way a company will go about telling stories in theater. But the communities that surround smaller companies are quite direct and immediately connected to the art and the artists involved. When everyone involved — from the producers to the crew and the actors to the audiences — are so passionate about what is happening between them, there is such an incredible freedom to make magic happen. I think of companies like Artists at Play as the Kogi taco truck of the theatre scene: It may be different, you may be getting your theater without silverware, and you gotta eat on the curb, but there is absolutely no doubt that what is being served up is fresh and inspired.
|Tim Chiou and Freda Foh Shen in the 2015 AAP Salon
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
What is your favorite “white people by the water play” and why?
Surprisingly, the number of “white people by the water plays” I have been exposed to (that sounds dirty, doesn’t it?) is quite small. But I remember becoming aware of the genre when I saw that multiple productions of On Golden Pond were happening around me. I distinctly remembered discovering that it was such a beloved story, and both theater companies and audiences alike were excited to revisit the story. I looked up what the basic plot of the play was, and thought to myself, “Yo is it me, or is this EVERY play that is not a musical or August Wilson?” (Yes, I say “Yo” to myself.) Then I realized: as an Asian actor, this is an entire segment of theater that I just CANNOT be a part of. Flash forward many years later, and here I am, and it is kind of amazing. Now if there was only a way for me to do an August Wilson play …