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. Steven Brown has been performing at multiple theatres in the Memphis area for almost two decades. His last appearance with Threepenny was in our production of William Shakespeare's Macbeth. We are delighted he will be joining us once again for Beer Flight Theatre Night.
|Steven Brown - Des|
Welcome to the blog. What is your name and what show are you performing in?
My name is Steven Brown, and I'm playing Des in "New World Order" by Harold Pinter
How did you start performing in theatre?
I first got started in theatre in high school. I was one of those kids who could never decide what they wanted to be on career day, so I decided to give the acting thing a try. I took a theatre class my Freshman year, got into my first show sophomore year and just kept going after that, all the way through college and beyond.
How did you first encounter Threepenny?
The first show I did with Threepenny was A Midsummer Night's Dream. I had already been around Matt a little bit. We'd worked on a few shows together and seen each other around the community. He approached me about Midsummer, and I liked the idea and the concept of the theatre: pay-what-you-can and a focus on classics like Shakespeare and contemporary works in a sort of stripped down setting. So I did that show, and after that I told him if there were any others I would be here.
How do you go about preparing for a role?
Well first thing I do is just read the script quite a few times, just trying to get a sense of where everyone is coming from and seeing how my character relates to everyone around them. No matter what kind of role I'm playing, I need to find that relation with the other characters. After that, I think it's all in the words. I work the lines until I have them word-perfect in my head, so no matter what rehearsal calls for, I have them down in my mind and can be adaptable with them. Because, to me, the character lies in the words. Thought gets you to where you need to be, but words are how you express that to the audience, and when you can perfectly connect the words to the thoughts behind them, that's when you have a good performance. But in order to do that, you have to have the words. They're your constant.
What are your thoughts on Harold Pinter and this play, particularly?
I've not had an extensive background with Harold Pinter before this. I've seen a few of his plays before around, mostly in college. I'm aware of his trademarks: the "Pinter Pause" and everything. I am glad we're not sticking hard and fast to those directions and being a bit more free-form. But I really do enjoy it. I think "New World Order" has a really great economy of story. He packs a lot into a little bit, hiding things in the subtext. The words you see are the tip of this huge iceberg. There is so much subtext to be found or created. There's a freedom to that as an actor because you can find your character and your own motivations to get where you need to go.
* editor's note: Harold Pinter routinely worked moments of silence into his scripts, usually with the simple stage notes of "pause" or "silence," hence the "Pinter Pause." Actors, directors, critics and theatre scholars have long debated the artistic and technical intent behind these stage directions. Pinter himself (in later years) said they could be cut if they didn't make sense.
How does it feel to be performing a short 10 minute piece as opposed to a long-form play. Is it more or less pressure?
Actually, no, it seems like a chance to really play. Not indulge or anything, but normally in a play it's about responding in a way to keep the action going. It's about responding on the line, there's not a lot of acting in between. But with this, with Pinter and because it is so short, there is almost a responsibility to find those moments in the character and in the story that are expressed through silence or in waiting for a response or trying to form a response and letting the audience see all that forming. So because it is so short and there is so much subtext to be packed into that small amount of time, it's almost more fun than a full-length show. So I don't feel more pressure.
Any last words to the audience about the play or the beer or anything else?
Hopefully the beer and the show and everything will be great. I think these three shows really go together in a very interesting way. They all sort of come from two people in conflict and I think that's really interesting.
Thank you Steven. 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!