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. Michael Khanlarian recently appeared in Threepenny's production of Cindy Lou Johnson's Brilliant Traces. Most of Michael's recent work has been with Tennessee Shakespeare Company, where he is currently touring with the Romeo & Juliet Project and will be appearing in their upcoming productions of To Kill a Mockingbird (Bob Ewell) and Much Ado About Nothing (Leonato). We're always happy to have Michael back on our stage.
|Michael Khanlarian - Jerry|
Welcome to the blog. What is your name and what show are you performing?
My name is Michael Khanlarian. I am playing Jerry in The Zoo Story.
Now Michael, you have been on the blog before so we already know a little bit about you, but what have you been up to recently?
Most recently, I've been working with Tennessee Shakespeare Company on the The Romeo & Juliet Project. We go through schools all around the Mid-South. Freshman have to read Romeo & Juliet, so we go through it with them and relate it to their lives. That story is really about teen violence, so we connect this 400 year old story to the students lives and it's always lovely to see how they react to those similarities. It's one of my favorite things that I've ever done.
How do you go about preparing for a role?
Well, for Zoo Story it's just getting my lines *laughs*. I mean the line load is just so heavy. Other than that I don't know if I have a specific process for each one. I mean once I have the lines, I think it's like Steven said, it's about getting the lines in your head and trying to inhabit them. Though maybe not word-perfect like Steven, at least not in this show *laughs*.
*Editor's Note: Michael is referring to the Threepenny blog interview we did with Steven Brown earlier this week. Scroll down to find it
What are your thoughts on Edward Albee and The Zoo Story, particularly?
You know, I don't know a great deal about Albee. I've heard a few stories about him. Mostly how specific he is about the way some of these lines are said. He is very specific about the blocking and some of the ellipses, and I've heard some stories about him being a quote/unquote "tyrant" about how these lines are supposed to be emoted. Interesting, but I really don't know if it's true. But this story, it's really like all stories, it's about two people connecting, or trying to find a way to connect. In Brilliant Traces it was two people stuck in a cabin who couldn't leave. In this one, there are two people stuck in a park who could leave at any time, but they choose to stay, so it's why are they choosing to stay and connect with each other. They're two vastly different people, so what is it about this moment that makes them connect?
You know it's interesting. In your shows with Threepenny, you've always been sort of coupled up, paired with another actor in a two person piece. Is that more of a challenge than a larger ensemble?
I don't know if it is more of a challenge, but it certain presents it's own unique challenge; mostly from the fact that you only have this one other person to depend on, where with a larger ensemble there are multiple people around to sort of help you if you get lost. Now with this show, it's sort of different, because it's so line heavy for me that if I get lost, I'm in trouble. Because Peter, the other character [played by Corey Parker] is a listener and I just talk and talk. I have a five page monologue at one point, that feels like a twenty page monologue to me sometimes *laugh*. So that's a big challenge
Any last thoughts on Beer Flight Theatre Night as a whole?
We were just saying, after the run-though was over that it was lovely that all the shows basically revolve around two people, one has three but that character is sort of removed in some ways, so it's all about the pairs. It's not a light evening at the theatre, I would say. And beer is wonderful, but sometimes I think we could maybe use some hard liquor at this show *laughs*. Ultimately I think these shows, like most good shows, discuss what it means to be human and what connects us as human beings. And that's the most important thing: if I can see something real on stage and something that makes me feel connected to the actor even though I know they're not really this person, then I'm happy
Thank you Michael. Check back tomorrow to meet our last performer!
And be sure to come check out Threepenny and Memphis Made Brewing Company's Beer Flight Theatre Night, opening TOMORROW NIGHT August 26th at Evergreen Theatre. One Weekend Only!