I have a personal history with house painting.
One summer, when I was in high school, my father saved me the trouble of getting a summer job by offering to pay me to paint the exterior of the family home. Of course, he had to teach me things like how to move a ladder, prepare a surface, apply caulking, which brush to use, and so on. So, I got both pocket money and an education.
The latter came in handy when I was finishing graduate school, and needed some income until my first teaching job started in the fall. I got hired by an outfit called College Painters, and spent the summer painting big, old houses in St. Paul, Minnesota.
These experiences have served me well in rehearsing the role of the house painter, because he paints the house on stage during some scenes. It would be difficult to make all those physical actions believable if one had not actually done them.
I had to smile when I read the speech in which Glen, the painter, explains why his wife will not let him paint their own house. My wife and I have owned four houses in our forty years together, and I have not painted any of them. However, that was my decision. I thought that if we had the money to buy a house, I would gladly pay professionals to do the difficult and demanding work of exterior painting.
Rick Homan will be creating the role of Glenn in our world premiere production of Krista Knight's play UN-HINGED. In 2006, Rick and his wife Ann moved to San Francisco from Philadelphia where they lived for twenty-one years. There he acted with the Arden Theater Company, Philadelphia Shakespeare Festival and Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival among other companies. He was a professor of theater arts for thirty years.
Rick's Thoughts on Glenn
When I first looked at the role of Glen in UnHinged by Krista Knight, it reminded me of the time I understudied Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman. Both roles are demanding: always on stage, lots of lines to learn, etc. But, as I have studied the Glen and UnHinged, I have come to see there are more profound similarities between this new play and Arthur Miller’s masterpiece.
Miller calls “Salesman” a “memory play.” Similarly, UnHinged has three, parallel timeframes: scenes in the 1960’s, scenes in the 1980’s and Glen’s monologues which seem to occur in a neverending present tense. So, it may seem to the audience that everything which happens is simultaneously being remembered by Glen. Since this is the first production of this play, we are about to find out!
Miller gives his characters everyday language, but he sometimes tricks the ear of the audience with an unlikely word choice, as when Charley says, “A salesman is got to dream.” We would expect “has got to dream,” but for a moment we also marvel at what a salesman at is. Krista Knight sprinkles the same sort of vernacular poetry throughout UnHinged.
Willy Loman believes that if a man is “wellliked” he will be “loved and helped and remembered.” Of course, that is not true, and that is his downfall, but he makes us wish it were true. Glen also has a belief which guides everything he does, and which results in tragic failure. But, as Charley says of Willy Loman at the end of “Salesman,” “No one dast blame this man.”
The role of Glen looks better everytime I look at it; and I look at it every day. The playwright and Wily West have made me the first actor to play this amazing role in this great play. I am forever grateful to them.