Jesse Siak, a Man of Many Faces

Q: You are no stranger to the Dock Street Theatre stage. What are a few of your favorite past roles that you’ve performed with Charleston Stage?

I’ve actually gotten to play several “bucket list” roles at Charleston Stage! Among those are George in Of Mice and Men, Dr. Frankenstein in Young Frankenstein, William Shakespeare in Shakespeare in Love and Leo Bloom in The Producers.

Q: Do you have a favorite piece written by Edgar Allan Poe?

I honestly wasn’t a fan of Poe when we were learning about him in high school, mostly because I didn’t understand his impact and style. It’s on everyone’s list, but “The Raven” is absolutely amazing. His use of imagery is astounding and haunting, and the gradual crescendo and repetition is so much fun. It’s dark and simple, but so complex. People spend their lives analyzing it and for good reason!

Q: You are playing the iconic role of Edgar Allan Poe. How have you prepared to take on this historic figure?

I grew a mustache. That’s it. Just kidding. The great thing about this role is that the end of Poe’s life is actually quite the mystery, and the events surrounding his death are equally confusing. I’ve been trying to tap into the shell of Poe and the effects his writings might have had on him. As an artist myself, I know how easy it is to be swept away in our work and sometimes the line between fiction and real life is blurred. I’ve also been trying to find the balance of Drunk Poe, Crazy Poe, and those beautiful moments where Poe isn’t “performing” and just gets to “be.” Basically, I’ve just been trying to find the heart under the floorboard.

Q: What makes this production a great play for Poe fans and first-timers?

Julian has done such a terrific job of incorporating Poe’s works into a through line of a show. As Poe gets swept up in his writings, so do we. This play is a mystery, and just like Poe’s works, it doesn’t necessarily spell things out for the audience. Some of it is bizarre, some absurd, some spooky, and some moments are so simple, real, and precise, you can’t help but lean in and try to figure out what comes next. It’s accessible, but doesn’t play down to the audience. And Poe fans will get to see some of their favorite works come to life onstage–I think that’s pretty cool.

Q: You are also the Associate Director of Education. What are your duties for that?

I’m going on my 7th year at Charleston Stage. As Associate Director of Education, I help train the Professional Resident Actors as teachers, lead our in-school outreach workshops, help administrate TheatreSchool classes and Performance Troupe, teach middle school classes, run the TheatreWings High School Apprentice Program, and direct MainStage and Family Series Shows–and really anything else that may be needed. I’m never bored, and always grateful.

Q: What excites you about working for Charleston Stage?

I think one of my favorite things about my job is that I never have the same day twice. I’m always doing something different, growing as a teacher, performer, professional, and human being. I truly love the people I work with, and my students are the best in the world. We are a community that wants so much to spread the joys of theatre to as many people (and kids) that we can. Like many great theatres in this Charleston Community, we strive to bring professional, quality theatre to our patrons, new and old and educational programs to anyone who will listen. Every day, we try to learn and get better and never settle for anything other than our best.


Join Us for a Virtual Performance of Nevermore! Voyage Into the Netherworld, Available Oct. 12 – Nov. 6, 2020, at!