So, Matt, tell us a bit about the character you play.
I play two characters throughout the play. Black Dog is a mean, nasty pirate who bullies people to get what he wants. Israel Hands is an equally mean, equally nasty pirate, but he's not terribly bright. My favorite thing about them is that, well, they're pirates! Pirates are definitely in the running to be the coolest thing ever, and it's a lot of fun to play not one, but two.
You've worked with Makeshift before, right?
I've done lots of shows with Makeshift in the past. I've been (in no particular order) three princes, a king, a French guy with a sword, a French Guy with a talking cat, and a bird.
What's the hardest thing you've ever had to do as an actor?
Auditioning. Since we're talking about Treasure Island, I'll compare it to treasure hunting... except instead of a shovel, you're digging with your face. There's a tiny fraction of a chance you'll get what you're after, and it doesn't actually hurt to try, but it's really uncomfortable while you're doing it no matter how much you prepare.
How do you prepare before you go on stage to perform?
Honestly, I don't. I just step on stage and "go." Even with all the lines and blocking and memorization, theatre is so spontaneous that I feel there's not much an actor can do to prepare once the rehearsal process is over. The important thing is to be aware of everything that's going on onstage and to work with it, since no two performances are ever going to be the same.
How do you memorize all those lines?
It just sort of happens as part of rehearsal. If there's a large monologue I need to memorize I'll take a few hours to go over it, then recite it in my head everywhere I go just to be sure, but the "basic" lines come naturally through rehearsal.
Is it hard to learn all the sword fighting?
The hard part isn't learning how to use the sword or even memorizing the fight sequences. The tricky part is keeping total coordination and control during the fight. All the fighters need to be not only aware of themselves, but of each other. If someone messes up it can be a disaster; at best, the fight looks bad. At worst, someone can get hurt. Safety is priority number one.
Makeshift Theatre Co Presents: Treasure Island Opens this February.
For tickets and showtimes please visit http://www.makeshifttheatre.com/