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

October 19, 2018

Meet Colin Waters, Starring as Lennie in “Of Mice and Men”

Filed under: Back Stage Blog — julianw @ 10:24 am

 

 

Q: Where did you grow up? Were there any activities you did as a child that led to your passion for the arts?

A: Technically, I grew up in Northern Kentucky, only 10 minutes from Cincinnati, Ohio. So, it is just much easier for me to say I am from Cincinnati, even though many of my friends here like to give me grief about it, haha. I know it’s confusing but… tomato-potato, am I right?Anyway, I grew up very blessed to be in a thriving arts community. So by the time I was 8, I was acting in shows and I haven’t looked back since.

 

Q: Where did you receive your training?  How did this prepare you for your work in the theatre world?

A: I went to school at Western Kentucky University. There, I got a B.F.A. in Performing Arts with a concentration in Acting. I also double minored in Musical Theatre and Performing Arts Administration. My time at WKU really exposed me to many different styles of performance and gave me many opportunities to explore my craft. I am very grateful for how they prepared me.

 

 

Q: You are playing the iconic role of Lennie. Please discuss the challenges/rewards of performing this character and what are you hoping audiences will take away from your performance?

A: Lennie is definitely one of the more challenging roles that I have played. With his given circumstances it has been quite the exploration to find the story I want to tell through him. I think so many times Lennie is seen as an iconic role because of the cognitive barriers he struggles with and the challenges he faces. However, I think he’s so much more than that. I want audiences to take away that Lennie is so much more than the label society tries to put on him. Instead we should think about his loyalty and his compassion for others and his zest for life. Those are the things he should be defined as.

 

 

Q: Why is “Of Mice and Men” still relevant for audiences to see? How does this classic story inspire you?

A: I think this show is still relevant today because it discusses so many different issues we are still facing in America. The show looks at racism with the mistreatment towards Crooks, sexism with the glorification and dehumanization of Curley’s wife, and ableism with the remarks thrown at Lennie. In a time where we are seeing so much discrimination towards minority groups, a story like this needs to be told. This story inspires me because even though it doesn’t have the happiest of endings (Spoiler Alert!!! But honesty not really because if you haven’t read this book by now then what are you doing….) we still see those on the outs find comfort with one another and they show the power than coming together can create.

 

 

Q: You are also a Resident Actor this season. What are some of your duties and what is one of your favorite things about being a part of Charleston Stage?

A: I am a Resident Actor with Charleston Stage and boy what an incredible time it has been so far. Along with performing in the company’s season, one of my main duties is to teach as a part of the education program. I teach two classes with one of my incredible fellow Resident Actors every week, and a Performance Troupe class with the always wonderful Marybeth Clark. I sometimes also travel to schools in the area for in school workshops. It can be busy at times but is incredibly rewarding. One of my favorite things about working with Charleston Stage would be a tie between working on “Of Mice and Men,” because it has been a blessing to perform a dream role right out of graduating college, and the class I get to teach with Marybeth every week. She is an incredible educator and every week I learn so much just from teaching alongside her.

 

Q:  What other roles will you be performing with Charleston Stage this season?

A: After “Of Mice and Men,” you can see me in “A Christmas Carol” as the Ghost of Christmas Past and Herb in “Junie B.”.  After the new year I will also be in “Number the Stars,” “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time,” “The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley,” and “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast” where I will be playing LeFou!

 

 

Performances continue running Oct. 19 – Nov. 4 at the Historic Dock Street Theatre. Ticket sales available online by clicking here.

 

 

 

 

October 17, 2018

Meet Jesse Siak, Starring as George in “Of Mice and Men”

Filed under: Back Stage Blog — julianw @ 10:53 am

 

 

Q: You are playing the iconic role of George. Please discuss the challenges/rewards of performing this character and what are you hoping audiences will take away from your performance?

A: George is a very multi-faceted character. He can be seen as short-tempered and mean, but considering the fact that he took care of a person with special needs (before we really knew what this was), unrelated to him, is kind of remarkable. He is a very kind person, deep down, and he really wants what’s best for Lennie and himself. He wants a place of their own, for his own reasons, of course, but if they did have a place to themselves, he wouldn’t have to worry about public perception of Lennie. No one could fire them. They could live a simple life. I think a challenge is letting George’s compassion for misfits shine through his hard exterior. Also, his struggle with the “final decision” about Lennie is quite a challenge. How do you put down a horse that’s sick when that horse is a part of you? When you love that horse? You know that horse is suffering and you know the alternative to you peacefully ending its life is much worse. Breaking down his hard exterior and letting the light shine through is the biggest challenge. The greatest reward? Getting to be friends and travel along with Lennie–a pure soul.

 

 

Q: Please explain the relationship between George and Lennie. Why do you think this friendship exists and what are the challenges within this duo?

A: George and Lennie are a wonderful pair of opposites bringing out the best in each other. George is pretty sharp, Lennie is not. Lennie is super strong, George simply gets by. In the end, though, they just want a peaceful, simple life. I think they really need each other for balance. George is so serious all the time, but Lennie brings out the “play” in George’s life. George grounds Lennie and keeps him out of trouble. And when Lennie does get in trouble (quite frequently, actually) George is right there to get him out–but scolds Lennie about it anyway. They need each other or life isn’t any fun–it’s just a routine. One might say that Lennie needs George to survive, literally. George needs Lennie’s kindness, purity, and friendship just as much, if not more. Life is really bleak without Lennie. (Probably why there isn’t a sequel.)

 

 

Q: Why is “Of Mice and Men” still relevant for audiences to see? How do the words of John Steinbeck and this classic story inspire you?

A: “Of Mice and Men” will always be relevant.  Friendship and the bonds that unexpected characters can form are so meaningful, and this story lets you see the good in people. We are in a difficult climate where sometimes being “different” is synonymous with being “bad.” We don’t take the time to understand each other’s differences and love each other in spite of them. We don’t give people second chances as much as we should. We outright judge people by the way they look, or talk, or laugh before really trying to see who that person is and what they stand for. George shouts at Lennie, but keeps Lennie by his side because, even though they’re polar opposites, they’re there for each other. This is a story of love and ultimate sacrifice. It’s simple. It’s beautiful. I think the world can use stories like this and learn from them.

 

Q:  What other roles will you be performing with Charleston Stage this season?

A: I will be Marley and several other characters in “A Christmas Carol.” I will also be directing Steel Magnolias and Number the Stars.

 

 

Performances of “Of Mice and Men” run Oct. 17 – Nov. 4 at the Historic Dock Street Theatre. Ticket sales are available online by clicking here.

 

 

 

 

October 3, 2018

Meet Cody Rutledge, Scenic Charge/Scenic Design Associate/Set Designer for “Of Mice and Men”

Filed under: Back Stage Blog — julianw @ 9:35 am

 

Q: Where did you grow up? Were there any activities you did as a child that led to your passion for the arts?

I grew up in McMinnville, TN. I was active in all clubs at school and the community theatre near my town, the Arts Center of Cannon County in Woodbury, TN. I also took as many art classes as possible in high school.

 

Q: Where did you receive training? How did this prepare you for your work in the theatre world?

I first went to school at Middle Tennessee State University, but then transferred to University of Memphis, known as Memphis State to some. There I obtained my B.F.A. in Theatre with a double emphasis in Scenic Design and Musical Theatre. Along with my education, I received my training through various internships and Summer Stock throughout the country. I have painted in five different states. By doing this I got to experience professional theatre faster than most of my colleagues.

 

Featured: Set Rendering for “Of Mice and Men” Designed by Set Designer Cody Rutledge.

 

Q: What is your full-time position with Charleston Stage?

I’m currently the Scenic Charge/Scenic Design Associate. Last year I was a Resident Actor for the company and got the chance to paint for Charleston Stage and design along side Julian during Shakespeare in Love and design BILLY, GOAT, GRUFF The Musical myself. This year I will be painting everything you see on stage, and set designing Of Mice and Men, Number the Stars, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, and The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley.

 

Q: Please discuss your process and what was involved with set designing for the classic play Of Mice and Men.

When I started the process I wanted to do something different, and really transform our space. The show is very intimate, so it’s designed around that along with the feeling that came from the Great Depression and the work force during that time. When I started, I drew multiple sketches that eventually transformed into draftings and elevations on my computer after many talks with the director and design team. Then when all was done I created a miniature scale model of the set.

 

Featured: Set Rendering for “Of Mice and Men” Designed by Set Designer Cody Rutledge.

 

Q: What are you most excited about that audiences will experience with your designs for Of Mice and Men?

It really is something different we have done with the space. I’m excited for the audience to experience some vibrant color and the use of real metal in the set. And I’m hoping that the story will be a bit more intimate with the way we use the set.

 

Featured: Set Rendering for “Of Mice and Men” Designed by Set Designer Cody Rutledge.

 

Performances of Of Mice and Men run Oct. 17 – Nov. 4 at the Historic Dock Street Theatre. To purchase tickets online, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

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