What most excites you about this production?
It is truly exciting to be in a biographically based play about a recognizable, popular icon. It's even more exciting to think the door is open for us to intimately revisit the figure of Joan Crawford in a new work and freely converse with her, share a drink, and not just slip into some old Hollywood nostalgia and leave it at that. The hierarchy of celebrity is played with in Gorgeous Hussy and, I think, deflated- so, what we're left with are very real people who come into contact with one another and are deeply affected and changed by that experience. That's where I connect with plays as an actor and as an audience member.
What is the greatest challenge you face with this show?
For me, it's challenging finding the right tone of authenticity when playing the character of a person who is playing the character of a person who happens to be someone who was very much alive. When Roy puts on the Joan make-up and attempts to speak from her point of view, he's actually pretty good at it. But, Roy is a reporter, not a drag queen. He doesn't have experience with dressing up in a wig, being fabulous, and putting on a show. So, trying to really feel and understand the awkwardness and freedom of doing drag for the first time, and to not just be a cliche, is challenging.
I'm continuing to see as many Joan Crawford films as possible, which can be challenging to actually get a hold of. Watching old interviews and seeing clips of scenes and montages of scenes people have created on YouTube has been lots of fun. Also, reading the book, Conversations With Joan Crawford, is finding where all the meat is at.
What have been some of your favorite previous roles (or productions you have been involved with)?
I've created and continue to develop a solo performance, adapted from the poems of Walt Whitman called Boys Together Clinging. It's a theatrical, character driven show where I embody Whitman and attempt to tell a story and create a sense of magic and intrigue using his words only. It's highly interactive with the audience and hopefully not at all what people would expect to see when watching a bunch of old poems being performed.
I've been acting in San Francisco for nearly 15 years now and have been blessed to work with so many diversely talented artists and have landed some pretty awesome acting roles.
This is my 3rd show with Wily West Productions.
I have worked in several independent films and a few commercials over the years. I think film acting is, at it's core, the same as the stage; however, the stillness and subtly that is required, as well as hitting your mark, can be very different and can seem unnatural at first; especially, when you've grown up in the theater and aren't necessarily a subtle person. Joan Crawford was never in the theater as an actor - only as a dancer. So, hopefully some of my experiences behind the camera will inform my performance with Gorgeous Hussy.
Since this play is about our public and private selves or personas - what parts of you as an artist are very public and what are some more private or personal interests that you would be willing to share?
It's difficult, for me, to find the line between a public self and private self. I'm sure it has a lot to do with social media and the fact that we're all now following and being followed by the new paparazzi...each other. Also, coming out of the closet many years ago, really stripped me of having a hidden self that is unavailable or off the table for discussion and display. At the same time, I think that things like reality tv and celebrity are very scary and I know I would never want my life and choices paraded about and dissected by the public eye. So, really I think it's about putting your self into your art and that is where the human heart lays bear. Can we attempt to make privacy sacred while at the same time move though life undisguised?
What do you hope audiences will take from this production?
No more wire hangers. As a kid, I was never into the old Hollywood movies, and as a child of the 70's and 80's, Mommie Dearest, was where I received my Joan Crawford education. It's a really great movie that I adore and love to watch again and again. I hope, though, that through our production, younger audience members and those unfamiliar and familiar with Crawford will take a away a deep sense of a talented, fierce, giving, complex, and contradictory soul that walked among us. I'll never look at her again in the same way after working on this production. I hope our audiences will be happily surprised and elevated by the Joan Crawford they discover with us here.