Wesley has been working with Wily West since 2009. He has worked in several capacities for the company: actor, set designer, technician, and last year as the director of the world premiere of LAWFULLY WEDDED in which he also had to take the lead role himself because our main actor had to drop out just two weeks before the show. Wesley, along with his wife Quinn, is a major component to Wily West's artistic operations. Wes took some time to talk to us about his latest experience directing and designing our two fall shows simultaneously.
What are methods for acting that you use in your directing?
I’ve a fair amount of training both on stage in front of audiences and in the safety of a studio among fellow students. I can never say that I employ one particular method for directing. As any other director may tell you: different casts and different plays require a different touch. These two plays have different voices, different rhythms and different ways of communicating. I do my best to hear those patterns, listen to their moods and adapt to bring out the best in these pieces.
Are there new methods/skills you are learning from directing two plays at once? Do you think you will be a different actor after this experience?
Directing two plays at once, with actors crossing over plays as well, has really taught me how to pace my rehearsal process. I’m a pretty disciplined actor, I make every effort to show up to rehearsals focused, prepared to work and with a head full of lines. I like the pressure of a short rehearsal process, it keeps me focused and invested. With two of my cast members split between both shows and the added challenge of rehearsing both shows in the same time it takes to rehearse one, I’ve had to adjust to keep from burning them and myself out.
A word from Wesley about independent theatre:
"Ladies, gentlemen, art is not an imitation of life, theatre is not an approximation of life, to me they are ways of life and part of my identity. Asking me to stop doing either one would be asking me if I have a preference for breathing or eating. None of us can create in a vacuum, no matter what medium we work in, we cannot stand alone. Whether we acknowledge it or not we need each other: for a fresh perspective, another set of capable hands, a sounding board, or for support.
These two shows are the culmination of years of passionate writing from Krista Knight and Morgan Ludlow, months of preparation by myself and my valiant wife Quinn Cayabyab, weeks of coordination by Philip Goleman and Laylah Muran de Assereto and countless hours of impassioned, dedicated and unwavering commitment from Genevieve Perdue, Rick Homan, Cameron Galloway, Colleen Egan, Scott Cox, and Jason Jeremy.
I hope you join me in supporting this intrepid cast and crew, and support local theater. See you at the show!
Please support Wily West's "Fill the Gap" campaign so we can get through this season! We are only $430 away from making our goal!"
How does your expertise as a technical director help or hinder your work as a director?
It does both. Being a technical director allows me to think about the technical details along with seeing the bigger picture of a production. Wearing multiple hats with a production gives you a reverence, respect and awareness of the active production team members that you’re working with but it also consumes time and energy. In any production time and energy are exhaustible commodities that require constant monitoring to ensure that there are enough of both to get the job done. With two shows in rep that pool of time and energy doesn’t multiply and can be depleted that much faster. Sometimes I get lost in the tech director role and miss things but that’s what my wife is there for, Quinn does her best as my wife and company producing director to ground me.
What has been your process directing these plays?
Allow the piece to speak and “well done is doing a part not having the acting show.” The latter is from Jimmy Stewart. I try not to have too heavy a hand in directing pieces, if it’s on the page it’ll end up on the stage. Yes, there are moments that need a little massaging or need a little extra attention to help clarify things but I believe that my job is to open doors and allow for a safe place for discovery. I am the objective pair of ears and eyes that drink in the story that is unfolding before me, if anything gets in the way of the story I do what I need to remove the obstacle and allow the piece to speak.
Is there a connection between the two plays you want to capture?
Pain is a universal language. Yes there are varying degrees and complexity but the one phenomena that I wanted to focus on was the ability that it has to both separate and connect people at the same time.
Is there an actor or other director that most influenced you as an artist?
Gregory Wallace was one of my directors and instructed me ACT, I really need to give him the credit that he is due. I actually didn’t quite know what I was getting into when I worked with him in my early 20’s. It wasn’t so much the technique and the processes that were the most valuable resources that offered but rather the way that he imparted them.
Martha Stookey will always be on my list of most influential as an artist: she was my grade school and high school theatre teacher. She was featured in TBA magazine for her contributions to the bay area theatre community, retired as the Artistic Director for the International High School (or French American International School for all of those “lifers” out there!), a SAG member, stage and screen actress, costume mistress, scenic painter, set designer, and lighting designer. She was my role model for theatre, my gateway into artistic expression. My work ethic and sensibilities have all been derived from Martha’s influence in some shape or form.
What most excites you about seeing these plays on stage? What do you hope audiences will take from the play?
I love good storytelling and both of these plays do just that: tell a very good story. What excites me is when the story leaps off the page and really grabs the audience. I love seeing audience members have that “Aha!” moment and get really invested in the story that is unfolding before them. After a fashion I start watching my audience rather than watching the play that’s onstage. I enjoy seeing people being affected by art. I hope audiences come away from these plays with another perspective for some of the pain that they’ve endured in their life.