Monday, October 27, 2014

meet the cast of #blessed: Doug Johnson

#blessed, the first show of our second season is entering its final week at the Evergreen Theatre.

  Tonight is a special industry night. We have a show at 8pm, so come check out some local theatre on a Monday! 

Since it's our last week, let's meet two more members of the cast!

Doug Johnson - David

Hello! What's your name, and what's the role you are playing in #blessed? 

My name is Doug Johnson and I am playing David.

Where are you from ? What do you consider to be your hometown?

I'm from out west. Utah is where I was born, despite the fact that my parents lived in Nevada, it was just the closest hospital. We moved around in the West for a while, but eventually settled in Savannah, Tennessee. I've I've lived in Memphis now for nine years, and that's the longest I've ever lived in any one place, so Memphis is home.

What first drew you to acting?

Competitiveness. My dad was in a play once in high school, and he talked about it a lot as I was growing up, and one day I saw a poster for the same play, Spoon River Anthology, posted in my high school, so I decided: why not, I'll give it a shot, and I've been acting ever since.

Where did you receive your training?

Most of my training comes from the University of Memphis. I got my bachelor's in fine arts there, and while I was there they were very generous to me and sent me to the Accademia dell'Arte in Arezzo, Italy, where I studied Commedia dell'Arte and philosophy of theatre and art and all sorts of other wonderful things.

Who were your mentors? Who do you admire and look up to, either on-stage or in all aspects of your life?

I have a lot of mentors for a lot of different things. In theatre, Susan Chritzberg has always been one of my favorite people: she gave me physical theatre training at the University of Memphis, and is someone who believed in me very much and was instrumental in getting me special training in Italy. She also taught me mask-making which I still do today. I actually sell my masks as part of my living.

What's your favorite part of the theatrical process?

I like the rehearsals very early: where the blocking isn't set and no one knows their lines and we're just making it up as we go until something finally works.

What's your least favorite part?

It has to be tech rehearsals: that first night when lights and sound cues are being run and none of them are going right.

What are some of your favorite past roles?

I played Guildenstern in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, that is one of my favorite roles that I have every played, also Big Stone in Eurydice at the University of Memphis. I've also always loved ensemble work in Commedia dell'Arte roles where no one has a name, you just play your character, and no one get the glory for it.

How would you define your style. What do you like to focus on as you prepare a character?

Physical theatre training is the biggest part of me. The first thing I always do is try and learn the text, the words, and see if I can relate those words to a character I know from my own life: a person I know speaks like this, and if I can't find that person, I make it up as I go along. I emulate body styles: how does this person walk, where do they hold themselves, what's their center of balance? Eventually that will push me into a more introspective moment of "why am I doing what I'm doing?"

When you're not working with Threepenny Theatre, how do you spend your time?

I fill my time partially with work at Theatre Memphis. I am a ShoWagon actor: one of their professional touring actors and teachers. I am also currently directing a touring show at Germantown Community Theatre, and I play a lot of Magic: The Gathering and board games and roleplaying games with my nerdier friends when I can.

How do you like the Threepenny process?

It's been really good to me so far. The director, Matt Crewse, has given us a lot of reign to try new things. For example, in the final scene of Act One, we had rehearsed it, quite a lot actually, and we had it down, all the blocking and everything written down in our scripts and Matt says, "We can't really go any further with this, but we have some more time allotted for it, so forget everything you wrote down and just get up and do whatever you want to." And the scene became much better because we were able to try completely new things, and that's one of the best things about directors who are willing to give actors free reign: they usually get much better quality work.

The "Big" Question: why do you continue to do what you do onstage, and once you are all said and done, what would you like to have accomplished with your art, not just in this show, but in your life?

A large reason I act is that it gives me a social outlet: not just a way to socialize with other people, but a way for me to show some of my values to other people. Acting, and in particular teaching are two things that allow me to bring my ideal world about. I delight in getting to teach children and young adults. It's something I do a lot of, and I even have it at the top of my resume under personal mission:

"To give people a voice, with which they can speak with conviction and truth about the world that they see."

Anyone you'd like to send some love out to? Shout outs?

My dad has been great to me. Once I told him I was going to become an actor, he never said "Yeah, but how are you going to pay the bills?" And that has been absolutely wonderful to me. Also, I have a lot of friends who, after I left Memphis, told me I was welcome to come back and crash on their couch when I didn't have anything, so I'm very grateful to those people as well.

Always be closing. Any final words to people about #blessed?

Come see this show. If you are a fan of farce, you are going to absolutely love it. If you are a fan of French comedy, you will absolutely love it. If you love Memphis, you are absolutely going to love it.

 And to wrap up, some quick-fire "Inside the Actor's Studio" questions!

What is your favorite word? conviction
What is your least favorite word? procrastination
What turns you on: creatively, spiritually or emotionally? charging head-long into your goals
What turns you off? making excuses
What's one thing you love about Memphis? no other city has this much Soul 
What sound or noise do you love? thunderstorms
What sound or noise do you hate? smoke alarms
What profession, other than your own, would you like to attempt? I thought I'd make a good politician
What profession would you not like to do? I'd hate to campaign as a politician [laughs].

Finally, if Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?

"Well done."

Thank you, Doug! Check the blog on Wednesday for another interview! and come see #blessed, open now and running through November 2nd!.

And remember we have an industry performance TONIGHT at 8pm!

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