Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Meet the cast of #blessed: John Dylan Atkins

As we move in toward #blessed, the first show of our second season (opening this Friday October 17th and running through 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? 

John Dylan Atkins, and I am playing Richard.

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

I am from Lewis County, specifically Hohenwald, Tennessee. I consider that to be my hometown, since I was born there and raised there for twenty-one years

What first drew you to acting?

People wanting me to act [laughs].

Where did you receive your training?

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?

A broad mentor is Albert Finney. Watching him perform before even beginning acting inspired me to want to be a performer.

More actively, Sarah Brown at the UofM mentored me from an acting standpoint. She really took me under her wing and shaped me from just a ball of raw talent into talent with direction. Jo Lenhart really taught me how to use my voice and body in ways that I didn't know how to. Because I still spoke really Southern whenever I came to Memphis and she fixed me [laughs].

What's your favorite part of the theatrical process?

Probably the relationships that you get from it and the growth of friendships that probably wouldn't happen otherwise because you wouldn't run into these people. You just get to meet so many great, unique people: professional artists and people who are doing it just to do it, because they love it.

What's your least favorite part?

Not being able to get out of my own head [laughs]. I'm really hard on myself, so until I get comfortable enough to where I'm not always in my own head it's usually fairly stressful.

What are some of your favorite past roles?

George W. Bush in Stuff Happens. Edmund in King Lear. Macduff in Macbeth. I liked playing Sandy Tyrell in Hay Fever, that was really fun. And then the Sheriff in Bat Boy: The Musical, that's just the most ridiculous show ever, it's awesome [laughs].

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

I focus a lot on being as natural as I can. That's what I get whenever I watch Albert Finney. It's what I strive to be: as real as I can be. And especially since I play villains a lot, I try to make them likable because, in real life, villains are normally likable people. You don't know that they're villains until they show you. So that's just really being natural: finding something that's likable. Even if they're the most unsettling person imaginable, I like to try to find something that the people are going to connect with so they understand where the character is coming from.

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

Work, paying bills. That's it [laughs]. I like film acting, whenever it comes up. I spend a lot of time writing screenplays, writing music. I try to write a song a day, most of them really bad [laughs] but something to keep the creative juices going.

How do you like the Threepenny process?

I love it. Mostly because... art is a really touchy thing. Most people are really sensitive. But when I'm in the room with Matt directing me, he's never sensitive, and I'm not sensitive. He gives direction in a way that it's not overly forceful. It's like we're sharing ideas, and if an idea doesn't work, I feel comfortable enough to say "this works" or "this doesn't work", where in other processes I haven't always felt that comfortable. I didn't know that my voice had as much worth in other processes, but I feel really comfortable, and maybe it's because I knew Matt before all of this, but it doesn't feel like the director is any more important than anyone else in this process and I think that is really cool and unique.

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 continue to do it because it's the only thing that makes me happy. I am probably not the most stable person with my emotions and theatre helps stabilize my emotions, so if, let's say, I'm feeling rage, I have an outlet for my rage or if I'm feeling heartbroken, I have an outlet for my heartbreak. I continually have an outlet, and I've been blessed in that way, so I have to keep doing it. It's not so much a want as it is a necessity for me, and, as cliche as it sounds, the only thing I really want is to reach people. I just want to make a difference. So if on one day I do one thing on stage that really strikes someone, and they carry that with them for the rest of their career or life, I mean, that's not what I do this for, but that makes it even better because I think that's how you transcend yourself, by your art being carried by other people, and I guess that's what I want: for my art to be carried by the people I share it with.

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

I want to send some love to my mom and my little brother. I'd like to send some love to all my teachers who got me here, over at the UofM. Special shout out to Bob Hetherington for mentoring without mentoring me. The same for Copeland Woodruff. Love to all of my actor friends in this city because they're basically the only friends that I have [laugh]. They're my family.

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

It's a really, really fun show. It's over the top. It's got moments when there's real heart. It's a classic story; a re-telling of a classic story, and... wow, this question is really hard [laughs]. I mean, I wouldn't be doing it if I didn't think it was great. I have a lot of fun doing it and I know the whole cast does. We have really good chemistry with each other, so I think that it's going to be hilarious and everyone is really going to enjoy it, so everybody needs to come and see it immediately, because I don't think there are going to be any seats the later weekends.

 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? Nose
What turns you on: creatively, spiritually or emotionally? Commitment
What turns you off? Dishonesty
What's one thing you love about Memphis? The Art
What sound or noise do you love? Music
What sound or noise do you hate? Fingernails screeching on a chalkboard
What profession, other than your own, would you like to attempt? None [laughs]
What profession would you not like to do? Doctor

Finally, if Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
I don't think I have to worry about that [laughs].

Thank you, Dylan. Check the blog tomorrow for a video interview with Meghann and Dylan.

#blessed open this Friday at the Evergreen Theatre! Show starts at 8pm and every performance is Set Your Own Admission price!

Check the blog on Monday for a new interview!

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