Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Meet the cast of #blessed: Jerry Kimble

As we move in toward #blessed, the first show of our second season (running October 17th - November 2nd at the Evergreen Theatre), we thought it might be fun for everyone to meet the cast. 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!

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

My name is Jerry Kimble, Junior, and the role I'm playing is Clarence.

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

I'm from Memphis, TN, born and raised. Been here the majority of my life. Moved out a couple times, but I've been back here for about two years.

What first drew you to acting?

Well there are two different parts. One, when I was young, I used to be in pageants and stuff, where I used to sing and do stand-up comedy. This was like at six years old [laugh], and I would always do little monologues from things I had learned in church or from a funny movie. I kind of pushed that to the back-burner because I majored in music for a long time. I was deep into music: band and choir and stuff, and then in high school, my senior year, my band director said "Hey, I'm doing a play this summer. I'll be directing the orchestra at the Orpheum, you should come and audition." I was like "...naw." [laughs].  I was always the guy that would imitate everybody. I was always the clown, wouldn't say "class clown", but I would always do stupid stuff without getting in trouble for it [laughs] because I was smart. Anyway, he got me to audition and I got the role and got paid to act. One of my very first professional gigs, and I was only sixteen. So, I was like "man, I kinda like that." I've been doing it ever since then.

Where did you receive your training?

I received my training from the University of Memphis. I actually went two different places. I first went to Tennessee State University in Nashville, and I was there for about two-and-a-half, three years, where I was majoring in music education, and then I was like "You know what, let me try out for a play" and the first play I did was Julius Caesar, played the role of Brutus, so, at that point I wanted to change my major. I changed it to Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Music and Theatre. I was trying to build my own musical theatre degree since I already had that musical background and they didn't have musical theatre degrees offered there. I transferred after taking a few years off, getting acting gigs in films around Memphis, especially when we had that boom of big films coming into the city. Then I finally went back to school and got my degree from the University of Memphis. I have a B.F.A. in Theatre Performance.

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

On-stage is hard. I look up to James Earl Jones. I always liked the roles he played in theatre. I just thought his theatre was kind of magical because he had this big, booming deep voice, where he could captivate a crowd just by talking, and he was great at storytelling.

I guess my mentor would be my mother. She was an English professor, taught in both college and in high school, so she would force us to read all these stories in the summertime when other kids were outside playing [laughs]. I mean, I still got to play, but I had to read so many books in the summertime. I had to set aside an hour to read something like The Great Gatsby and then something else the next week. So I always take my mother as my inspiration, because she had me read all these stories, and I always had this wild, vivid imagination because of that, and I think it kind of helped me with acting.

What's your favorite part of the theatrical process?

Believe it or not, because it's probably the opposite of what everyone else says, but my favorite part of the theatrical process is auditioning. I feel like I'm actually great at auditioning because I'm great at adjusting, at playing different characters and I usually sit there and put everything out there at once and say "I can do this, I can do that", so it shows my versatility. So I actually like auditioning, which a lot of people hate.

What's your least favorite part?

Lately, it has actually been opening night, and the reason is sometimes I get such an adrenaline rush that I start hiccuping. I get these wild hiccups and my arms kind of start shaking, and it's only on opening night that this happens. I get this uncontrollable energy that I can't hold down sometimes and it's almost a little bit too much: my body can't take it, so I start hiccuping and I even feel like I might throw up, because the adrenaline is so overwhelming. Once I get settled into the play, a good ten or fifteen minutes in, it goes away, but probably starting an hour before go and running right up til fifteen minutes in, it is wild.

What are some of your favorite past roles?

One would be Troy Maxson, who I played in Fences at the UofM. Another would be Brutus in Julius Caesar that I played at Tennessee State. I really liked playing Banquo. I tend to like playing a lot of Shakespeare, I've noticed. I played Banquo in... ahhh

In "that one"? 

Yeah, in "that one" [laughs]. I'm not superstitious, so I don't mind saying it, but we're around other theatre people, and I don't want to spook them. So I won't say it. The Scottish Play [laughs].

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

My style is kind of weird, because I always tend to get the characters who are storytellers, which goes back to what I was saying about James Earl Jones. I always felt he was a great storyteller, and I think I kind of modeled him a little bit, so it seems like every role I get, I get these characters who have these long monologues, and I'm always looking at everyone else thinking "Why don't they have long monologues. I always have these long, long monologues." [laughs]. So I always try and go after these monologues first, which sort of shows in my rehearsal process. The monologues I'll have down quick. It's the dialogue, the talking back and forth that is the last thing that I get because I try and get the big stuff out of the way and the short stuff I save till later. That stuff is important, but it's the way I work. I'm actually kind of more comfortable at times with the monologue because I can rely on myself, because it's all me [laughs].

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

I'm on the board of a film company called Cellardoor Cinema, and we hold a film fest every year. It's called Unreal Film Fest and we just had our fourth annual festival this past week, Sunday through Wednesday. We concentrate on fantasy movies, sci-fi movies and horror movies. This year they decided "Hey, since Jerry speaks so well, how about you be host", so that was even more I had on my table. I also still do alot of film around the city. So last Saturday, for example, I ended up filming an action movie here in the city, which was fun and interesting. After that, I had to go straight to work [laugh] and then straight from work I had to go home and try and run lines for #blessed, so I'm always busy doing something it seems. I never really have a chance to slow down. Which I am kind of used to. I'm used to having multiple jobs. Like right now, I have three jobs, on top of everything else. It's kind of the reason I don't do a whole lot of live theatre. I'd rather respect the process and the other actors and not lag behind. But with this role, I realized I had the time and I could really do it well, so I said sure.

How do you like the Threepenny process?

I like it, it's different. Because we're not just going "Let's beat this into you. Let's beat this into you." Most theatres will have you just keep running the play and running the play and running the play. Lot's of times I've done shows and they will table-read once or twice and then do a scene once and then just run. Here, we do scene work, individual scene work repeatedly. We don't just run the play over and over. It's more like film in that way. You'll do an individual scene multiple times in rehearsal.

The process can be difficult. I've been doing a lot of film for the last seven years, and I usually try and not do film and live theatre at the same time. Because you'll be doing film and someone will say "you're being too big, bring it in, bring it in" or I'll be doing theatre and the director will say "You're being quiet, we need you a bit brighter", so it's kind of funny how it goes back and forth like that. So I try to not to mix the two... but right now I'm mixing the two and it's working well [laughs].

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 really like what I do, because when I was young I realized, like I said, I like performing. I'm not really one of those people who likes attention in real life. I'm still kind of shy. It's weird, theatre has gotten me out of that shyness, but I still have that shyness in me, so I guess you could say it's a way for me to express myself. Because growing up I was always very quiet. I didn't make friends unless you came up to me first. Not that I was stuck up or anything, I was just too shy to go talk to someone. With theatre, the part of me that is not shy, the other part, comes out, so you actually get to see more of my personality in theatre than if we actually sat down and talked [laughs].

As far as my craft, I honestly don't have to be rich or anything like that. I just want to be a steady working actor that can actually pay his bills [laughs] and not have to work in corporate America to make ends meet. I would rather do film or theatre for the rest of my life and actually do it well enough that people will say "Hey, you know that Jerry guy? He's actually pretty good. We should hire him." From there, it would be nice for people to then say "Let's invite him to this school to let him talk about his life", because I've got so many stories about auditions and people I've met and traveling [laughs]. It's a unique process that a lot of people don't go through. Our job is to put joy and laughter and thought in front of other people. Lots of people don't have that. In business, they are always trying to sell you something. They don't care that you're happy, they just want to get that sale across. We actually care that you get it. So I actually like having that control over emotion: being able to make people feel good or really care about something, especially something socially. If there is a play that is topical and makes you think, it's great. Because if you can change just one life, then you've done your job. If you can change one thing about the way a person thinks and open up their mind, I think that's incredible.

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

Mom and Dad, I'll always love them. The people I'm working with in this cast. And anyone who reads this and wants to act. Don't be scared, just go and do your best, and it should be enough.

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

Very well written. Also, it's one of those things that is eye-opening. Because I believe some of the people in the crowd will see themselves in this play. Some of them will, some of them won't, some of them will be blind to the fact, maybe on purpose. But I think it's going to be an incredible play and people are going to enjoy it and are really going to be shocked by the great acting that we have in it.

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

What is your favorite word? Love
What is your least favorite word? Funky
What turns you on: creatively, spiritually or emotionally? Anything that gives me inspiration
What turns you off? Close-minded people and stupidity
What's one thing you love about Memphis? The open-hearted love you can find in this city.
What sound or noise do you love? A crowd cheering
What sound or noise do you hate? A crowd booing
What profession, other than your own, would you like to attempt? Computer science
What profession would you not like to do? Cardio-respiratory therapy

Finally, if Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
"My son, you fought through all your trials and tribulation, and now you got to spend eternity with Me."

Thank you, Jerry. Check the blog tomorrow for a video interview with Jillian and Jerry. and check the blog on Monday for a new interview!

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