Wednesday, October 22, 2014

meet the cast of #blessed: Gregory Alexander

#blessed, the first show of our second season is now open through November 2nd at the Evergreen Theatre!  Continue to meet our cast and come see the show! Check out the blog every Monday and Wednesday for Q and A's to help you get to know our company a little bit better!

Gregory Alexander - Vince

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

My name is Gregory Alexander, and I will be playing Vince.

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

I am from New York City, and I consider New York to be my home, but I look at Memphis as kind of a second home away from home.

What first drew you to acting?

I was six years old and saw Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark. I would watch it obsessively, even to the point where I got the hat and the whip and would pretend I was in the film when I was watching it in my parents room, jumping around, leaping over the bed, creating fight scenes with people who weren't really there. I guess it might have been early onset signs of schizophrenia or something [laughs], but that's how I first started wanting to perform. Harrison Ford. I started going to P.P.A.S. (Professional Performing Arts School) when I was younger, but then I withdrew and transferred to another school, a prep school, to play basketball, so I stepped away from acting for a while, but then I got pulled back into it when I was 16 years old when the headmaster of the school asked me to play Prince Charming. I don't think I would get to play Prince Charming now [laughs], but I've been performing off and on since I was eight.

Where did you receive your training?

I got my training from the University of Memphis.

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

My brother, we're complete opposites: he's a critical thinker, I'm a creative thinker, but I think his work ethic is admirable and that it's something I can learn from and grow from, and it's something to have and utilize in the acting craft as far as discipline is concerned. I can certainly use a little bit more of that. Also my mother. She's been my backbone since I was little. She's been my biggest supporter, and she's been through a lot, and I've watched her persevere and move on from a lot of losses. She's a very strong woman, and I've learned a lot from her.

What's your favorite part of the theatrical process?

The beginning. I think we all have these anticipations of what our character is going to look like when we get the script, and we have all these creative ideas in our mind, and it never turns out to be what we think it might be. It's always something different, and I like the table-work process of it, and then going from there.

What's your least favorite part?

Strike... unless Jeff Posson's there [laugh].

What are some of your favorite past roles?

Matt Friedman in Talley's Folly. Ned Weeks in The Normal Heart. I would love to play those roles again, just because I know things now that I didn't know back then.

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

Oh, I'm a total method actor... I'm just playing [laughs]. I like to try different things, you know? I'll try anything once if it doesn't put anyone else or my psychological state at risk. I like breaking down the practicalities of the character that I'm going to play: how he moves, how he sits, how he responds impulsively and physically, but then sometimes I like to have an intellectual side. I guess it depends on the type of play. If there is a research side, I'll do the research. You know, if I'm playing a scientist, I will study physics, because I think it would be a good idea for me to know what it is I'm talking about: quantum theory or whatever it is.

Editor's Note: You can catch Gregory as Quantum physicist Werner Heisenberg in Michael Frayn's Copenhagen this February at Theatre Memphis

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

Work [laughs]. I got to pay the bills. You know how it is, being a starving artist. It's kind of hard for me to think about it. I'm in medical sales, which isn't something I thought I would ever do. I've never seen myself as a salesman, but if I want to continue to pursue acting I need to have some sort of financial stability, so if I decide to go to L.A. or New York for a period of months, I have something to fall back on and sustain me. So yeah, it's non-stop. That's why this is so great: getting to rehearse and do a show, it's what I live for. I think it's what a lot of us live for, you know. There's never a break. There's no rest for the wicked... that was corny [laughs].

How do you like the Threepenny process?

I love it. I think Matt's brilliant. I think he's a bright dude. He's way beyond his years. I like what he is trying to do. I respect it. He has a vision and it shows. I remember from the first production of  Midsummer (Editor: Midsummer Night's Dream in June of 2013 was 3PT's first show) that he did at UofM, how exponentially the company he's started has grown, and the people that are involved are awesome: you, him, Chris Tracy, and the people who are regulars in the company's productions. They're all hard-working, dedicated actors, and the work shows. Threepenny's awesome.

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?

I do it because I don't know what else to do. I don't know where else I would fit in this society. I don't think I would fit anywhere else. It's all that I know.

I've always rooted for the underdog, you know? Growing up I was the underdog: having to go through bullying and being around people who weren't so kind, but when I entered into the artistic realm of acting I saw people who were just like me: who have so much emotion inside them. We usually keep it concealed, but when that wall is broken, and we can share the common bond that we share, beautiful things can happen, not only on the stage but inter-personally. The people I've become friends with are some of the coolest and most kind-hearted people I ever met, and together, what I think I'd like to do, and I have an assumption that they would like the same is that that we allow our voices to be heard, for lack of a better term, so that the people who do not do what we do but struggle the same way we have continue to do so and know that they are not alone, and that they have the same opportunity to live their lives any way they want to. Because I know when I was a kid I was greatly discouraged from doing the things I love and being the person that I am, so I do what I do hoping that the underdogs can come out and know that they're not alone.

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

Stephen Garrett, Chris Tracy, Jeff Posson, Matt Crewse, Jacob Wingfield, my brother, my sister, Emily Childers, Jon Castro, Jay Kim and my mother.

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

Go check it out, it's going to be fun. Threepenny is always doing cool stuff, so you know it'll be interesting and you'll most likely have a good time.

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

What is your favorite word? pococurante
What is your least favorite word? nice
What turns you on: creatively, spiritually or emotionally? talent
What turns you off? rude people
What's one thing you love about Memphis? fried chicken
What sound or noise do you love? flat sounds
What sound or noise do you hate? the train
What profession, other than your own, would you like to attempt? none
What profession would you not like to do? physician

Finally, if Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
"We've been waiting for you..."

Thank you, Greg! Check the blog on Monday for another interview! and come see #blessed, open now and running through November 2nd!. And remember we have an industry performance this coming Monday, October 22nd at 8pm!

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