Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Beer Flight Theatre Cast: Michael Ewing

Hello All,

Threepenny Theatre's one weekend run of one act plays will feature the works of three of the greatest modern playwrights (Edward Albee, Harold Pinter and Tennessee Williams). Today we will meet another of our actors. He recently appeared in Hattiloo and Threepenny theatre's collaborative production of Free Man of Color. His appearance at Beer Flight Theatre Night will be his last performance in the Memphis area for a while, and while we are sad to see him go, we are glad to have Michael Ewing performing with us one more time.

Michael Ewing- Man

Welcome to the blog. What is your name and what show are you performing in?

My name is Michael J. Ewing and I will be playing Man in "Talk to Me Like the Rain and Let Me Listen" by Tennessee Williams.

How did you start performing in theatre?

The first thing I did was in 8th grade. I got to play Scrooge in an abbreviated version of A Christmas Carol for kids. So I got to play a lead, and I say that because it sort of kindled something there. But because I was an athlete, running track and cross country through college, theatre sort of went on the back burner. So, to shorten the complicated story, I auditioned for a play my last semester in college, and I didn't get it, but it triggered something. So, after college I moved to this little ski town in Colorado for a year and did four shows back to back to back to back, and it was great and I loved it. I moved to New York City and just got completely overwhelmed and intimidated so I went and got a "real" job for about two and half years. But eventually, after traveling a bit, I sort of had a... I guess you could call it a crisis of purpose, and I said "f*** it I'm gonna give it a shot". I was in the Philadelphia area, and I just started looking for things and I've been scrambling and scrabbling it together ever since.

How did you first encounter Threepenny?

Through you *laughs*. I first heard about it last year when I was doing The Seagull (at Playhouse on the Square). So I came over and saw Long Day's Journey into Night, and I was just blown away.

How do you go about preparing for a role? Be it a short 10 minute play or a larger one like Free Man of Color or The Seagull

For me, it's an amalgamation of approaches. To begin with, I read the play, or read it again if I'm already familiar with the work. Then I quickly try to get a sense what the director's vision is, and, from there, I try to bring my myriad of experiences and technique to the table. I did a lot of improv early on, and while I feel I'm not a great straight improvisor, what I did get from those experience is this willingness to not be afraid to fail, because failing at improv is the scariest thing in the world. Also, it created this sense of "yes, and..." when I work, that has served me really well as a regular actor because it keeps me open to what my fellow actors come up with,  and what the designers and directors decide to do. So, initially, I try and be a sponge for everything and then as the rehearsal process continues, you start to narrow things down and make clearer, more concrete choices.

What are your thoughts on Tennessee Williams and this play, particularly?

Well, I've talked to few people about this play and I think for some it's really cool and others it's a little scary because this play is kind of a tone poem. And that's a real challenge as an actor, because there is this really fine line between it being too precious and it being almost ridiculously melodramatic. In a way it's sort of a nugget of Tennessee Williams himself. I think you could make that case for almost all his works have that pull between "is it too precious/is it too strident" That's the big challenge, I think.

How does it feel to be performing a short 10 minute piece as opposed to a long-form play. Especially considering how Williams puts so much emphasis on creating a mood. Is it more or less pressure?

This is what sort of comes back to my improv "yes, and..." training. I really don't worry too much about that sort of thing, anymore, that pressure. Plus, I've already worked with Matt on Free Man of Color, and now, on this second go-around I have even more faith in putting myself in his hands and going where he wants to go. I've been doing this long enough that I don't worry. Some people will think this is really cool and for some people it won't be their cup of tea, and I have little control over that personal preference. I can just do the best I can when the performance comes.

Any last words to the audience about the play or the beer or anything else?

Be an improvisor. Be a "yes, and..." open audience member, cause it's a nice little variety of shows, and I think there is a conversation among the three pieces that is something to look for.

Thank you Michael. Check back later this week to meet another performer! And be sure to come check out Threepenny and Memphis Made Brewing Company's Beer Flight Theatre Night, opening August 26th at Evergreen Theatre. One Weekend Only!

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