October 6, 2009

Reflections from "The Boys"

If you saw our recent production of The Boys Next Door, you saw the endearing humor and humanity the cast brought to their characters. Here are some reflections from some of the actors about their experience finding their way through Tom Griffin's touching work.

“Becoming Arnold was a great challenge and a great honor as well. I made a lot of discoveries watching documentaries, talking with psychiatrists, and hanging out with ‘special needs’ folks. Yet the most brilliant revelation I made, speaking both as an actor and a person, was how I didn't need to adopt an outside understanding to play this ‘special’ role. You see, I've been Arnold; Arnold is me. He's the me who gets too loud when he doesn't get his way with the TV. He was the me who packed a picnic basket and ran away to live in the band shell in the park. He was the me who didn't know how to talk to girls, how to dress cool, how to figure out fractions, how to stand up to a bully, or how to look someone in the eye when they laugh and say, ‘You spent all that money to be an ACTOR?’ What I want to say is, I'm special. We're all ‘special.’ This experience has shown me that we are better served to look inside ourselves and discover the many things we share with the mentally disabled of our society, rather than define that group by their differences.” -Ryan Clemens, third-year MFA Actor (Arnold Wiggins, thesis role)

“Being one of ‘the boys’ was truly one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had. Mark Paladini, our director, told us from the beginning that he trusted us. Throughout the rehearsal process he would just let us explore and try different things. He was always open to ideas and would often ask, ‘What would you like to do here?’ We would tell him and his response would inevitably be, ‘Great! Let’s see it.’ Sometimes our ideas worked and sometimes they didn’t. And if they didn’t Mark was always there with another idea to make the moment work. I can remember during one rehearsal Mark told Ryan to come up with a funnier tick. The one Ryan had been using just wasn’t funny enough. Mark said, ‘I don’t know what it looks like, but I know there is a funnier one you can do.’ So, for the next 10 or so minutes Ryan tried every different tick he could think of until he did one that was so funny I couldn’t even look at him. ‘That’s it,’ I whimpered as tears of laughter ran down my cheeks, ‘That’s the one.’ It was this kind of collaborative effort that made The Boys Next Door the success it was.” –Chad Rasor, third-year MFA Actor (Norman Bulansky, thesis role)

“For me, part of fun in The Boys Next Door is getting to be one of ‘the boys’ with three of my cohort classmates. When there’s already a meaningful relationship, whatever connection we’ve found seems to build on something tangible. I also appreciate Mark for his artistic sensibility – how he guides us to find our moments (both comic and tragic), yet maintaining the humanity of these characters. Through the process we laugh, cry, get angry, excited and paranoid… but in the end we find ourselves embracing these characters as we embrace each another and ourselves.” –Shinn-Rong Chung, third-year MFA Actor (Lucien P. Smith)

“For me the key to a truthful portrayal of 'Barry' or any of 'the boys' relies upon finding those things in ones own life that relate to what the character is going through. I do not have schizophrenia, but I do remember several years of my childhood I spent fully invested into an imaginary world--I was a baseball player. I have a good relationship with my father, but I know what it is like to want my father to be proud of me. I like to think I have a good sense of humor, and am a patient person, but I know what it's like to be so frustrated when some one doesn't understand that my patience and sense of humor goes out the window. I said all that to say all of humanity is in each one of us. We are not so far from the socially, mentally, and psychologically disadvantaged as we think we are. Hopefully this play provided some insight into that world, and helped us recognize the need for unconditional love, understanding, and the humane treatment of all. Being in The Boys Next Door was an experience of a lifetime! Mark, the director, truly embraced the idea of letting the actors play. The result of that 'playing' was a collaborative finished product that was satisfying, fun, emotional, and educational for the actors, and audience alike.” –Matthew Winning, 3rd year MFA (Barry Klemper, thesis role)

1 comment:

  1. Good job, guys. I'm sorry that I missed it, but I was glad to be a part of it in a small, small way.