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Julian Wiles, Founder and Producing Artistic Director
Marybeth Clark, Associate Artistic Director

September 21, 2008

Acting With the Body by Resident Actor Michael Lasris

Filed under: Back Stage Blog — julianw @ 11:03 pm

In college, when asked to describe myself as an actor, I responded with “tall,” “wacky” and “clumsy.” My professor told me, after reading my responses, that I clearly considered myself a “physical” actor, as all of my answers were physical traits (as opposed to emotional traits, like “brooding” or “nostalgic”). This is a true statement. I am a physical actor. I tend to develop my characters from the outside in, starting with my bodily positions and moving into emotional development. So, when I found out my first two roles for the season, Bernardo in West Side Story and The Creature in Frankenstein, I knew I had a challenge: I had to transition from a suave Puerto Rican to a “science experiment gone awry.” I can’t tell you how excited this made me to know that I am able to play back-to-back roles that show two completely different physical beings. 


With Bernardo, I had the challenge of making Kevin P. Hill’s stylistic adaptation of Jerome Robbins’ athletic choreography seem natural and NOT dance-y. And, with my extensive dance experience, this did prove to be a challenge. However, after harnessing the Latin flavor of the music and working with Resident Actor Sarah Claire Smith (Anita), who also has an extensive dance background, I was able to develop the character that I was looking for: a sexy Puerto Rican who could dance well, but still lead a brute gang.


As for Frankenstein… we’ll see how the process works! I’ve already begun research on child-like movement patterns and, hopefully, with the help of Julian Wiles (our director/playwright) and the rest of the cast, I will find a physicalization for The Creature that will carry me on the character’s journey throughout the play. Cheesy? A little. But what else would you expect from a “wacky” physical actor?



(Center:  Resident Actor Michael Lasris as “Bernardo” fights Resident Actor Brian Zane as “Riff”) 



(Center:  Resident Actor Michael Lasris as “Bernardo” dances with Resident Actor Sarah Claire Smith as “Anita”) 



(Resident Actor Michael Lasris as “The Creature” in Charleston Stage’s up coming production of Frankenstein



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