Interview with Paul Kiernan (Petruchio)

Five Questions with Paul Kiernan, TSC’s Petruchio

April 1, 2014

  

How is rehearsal going for you, Paul?

Well, we ran the first act tonight. We sat in a circle and we jumped up and we said the words and we did the entire first act on the first day of the second week of rehearsal.  It was amazing.  I was so deeply humbled and impressed by the cast.  I am trying my best to find my way around this character that, admittedly, is not a character that I would normally be cast as, but I believe I am pushing myself and jumping into the fray.  Some days it feels like I am way out to sea and then, I find a moment, a line, a blip that tells me, okay, perhaps this is the right direction and then, I feel like I have a hand-hold.  I am so enjoying this process, the way the director has us working.  The amount of improvisation and the amount of work off-text has been a luxury. Yet, more than that, I am seeing how necessary the work is and how quickly and deeply it is feeding the text for me.

Has anything surprised you yet?

Dan McCleary. I worked with Dan many years ago as an actor. I did four shows with him as an actor, but I have never worked with him as a director before. Now, Dan is, as I have clear memories, a formidable, clear, passionate, deeply brilliant actor. I shall never forget his Richard III. However, being a good actor does not mean you know how to direct. Those are two completely different skill sets. Many actors cannot direct, and many directors should not act. Dan is just as skilled, just as passionate as a director as he is an actor. He is clear, he is supportive, he knows the text inside out and, above all, he understands how to talk to actors and give us exactly what we need.

I am also surprised that I am jumping in on this show. I was very worried that I would be unable to step from my comfort zone and risk enough. I am surprised how easily and how skillfully Dan has guided me to a place where I am willing to do things that I cannot imagine ever doing. There are little triumphs happening for me that, at night, I cannot believe. During an improvisation of a moment in the play where I was trying to make a point about the fact that clothes and outer trappings are not who a person truly is, I took off my shirt and stood, naked to the waist, in front of the cast. Now, for me, a heavy man, who is not very fond of his body, being able to stand shirtless in front of strangers because that is where the moment went was kind of big deal for me. I was able to do it because that is the kind of work Dan has built and has given us permission to do. It was a huge risk for me. I know that to make this production what it needs and wants to be, I must push myself.

You also have a successful film and television career going.  What’s it like being on stage and in a leading role at this point in your career? 

I am not famous by any stretch of the imagination, but I am very happy to do the TV/film work. But being on stage, for me, is always, always the best work, the most challenging work, the most rewarding work. The time, the intensity, is very different from film/TV, and it is where I learn most, grow most, and where I always feel most comfortable and alive. Being on stage is a blessing, it is a privilege, and I never forget how lucky I am every day when I walk into the rehearsal room and I get to say these words, play this character, and work with this remarkable group of people.

I have never wanted to play leads or be the star. I just want to be a part of the company and do my job as best I can. I want to serve my fellow artists, give them my very best, add to the show and then, hand it off to the audience.

What have you enjoyed about being in Memphis so far?

Well, to say “everything” is going to sound silly but, it is very true. I am blown away by the generosity of my house host, Barbara Apperson (a TSC founder), opening her incredible home to me, making me feel welcomed and special and safe. It’s kind of hard when you are on the road, you don’t have all your little familiars. You aren’t in your own bed, you’re not in your kitchen, you cannot walk to your coffee shop. All the while, you’re trying to lay yourself bare, risk it all and do the best work you can. Having housing like I have here in Memphis, so welcoming, so kind, really makes the whole situation that much easier. Also, I sure do like the puppy that I am living with too. She’s sweet.

I am so enjoying the dedication of the company. The feeling I got when I arrived was that this was going to be fun, this is going to be a good show but, most of all, this is going to be something you will be proud of, the community will be proud of, and an experience you will not soon, if ever, forget. There is a great sense of ownership I have felt in the community about this company, and that is incredible. Sometimes, when you do enough regional theater, it can feel distant. You’re just doing another show, in another town, for another audience. Here, I feel it’s very personal, very important to the community, and that makes the work that much more exciting and that much more important.

I have completely enjoyed the Germantown Commissary. That is some damn fine pulled pork.

You and Dan both acted in a production of The Taming of the Shrew in Orlando, 19 years ago in Orlando, what do you recall about that production?

Am I supposed to be able to recall anything from 19 years ago? I recall I had more hair. That was, as were all the productions I did at Orlando Shakespeare Theatre, a great show. Dan played Petruchio, and I was Tranio. I remember the concept was a riverboat situation, much gambling and such. I remember Dan coming into the pre-wedding scene, dressed in his wild outfit to shock and appall Kate and all the characters questioning him and then, he said the line, “Were it better I should rush in thus.” And then, he dropped his pants and he had on white boxers with big red lipstick marks, big kisses all over them. Well, he stood, with this great, kind-of “that’s right, I just did that” look on his face, and the audience rolled with laughter, and he held that laugh for so long, it was great. Then, he would lift an eyebrow, or smile, and the laugh would keep on rolling. That was a funny, funny moment. It was a very good production, and I had a lot of fun working with that company. Also, it is where Dan McCleary got his nickname, Gator. Ask him about that sometime.

Anything else? I know liquid refreshment awaits you.

It’s a privilege to be here. It’s an honor to be invited to be a part of this company, to work on this play, and to be welcomed into this community. I am glad there is so much love for Shakespeare here, and I hope that continues to grow. I don’t think people understand how important a resident, professional theater is. What it adds to a community. How it teaches, how it enlightens, and betters the life of a community. The arts are so important. Especially today when, in schools, the arts seem to be the first things on the chopping block. Reading plays is important. It is a very clear, immediate, kind of history. Seeing live theatre is primal for us as people. It goes back so very far. No matter what period, no matter where on the Earth, it is important to remember that somewhere, someone is standing up in front of the fire and telling a story. We have to tell these stories. If we don’t, we risk losing who and what we are, where we started and what we have achieved. We risk forgetting how to come together and experience laughter, love, sorrow, and joy as a group, as a people. So, I am very thankful, very blessed, very honored to be able to come and stand up in front of this fire, with this company of brilliant story-tellers and share what I know is going to be a splendid story, with the people of Memphis.

TSC Presents The Taming of the Shrew

Tennessee Shakespeare Company presents its Vaudevillian The Taming of the Shrew inside Hugo Dixon’s new 1927 home

poster-shrew2014Memphis, TN (March 20, 2014) – – Tennessee Shakespeare Company (TSC), the Mid-South’s professional classical theatre, presents William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew inside Dixon Gallery and Garden’s Winegardner Auditorium from April 23 – May 4 in Memphis.

Directed by TSC’s Founder and Producing Artistic Director, Dan McCleary (Hamlet, The Tempest, Glass Menagerie, Macbeth, Othello, Julius Caesar, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like It), this roaring ‘20s production is sponsored by Ann and Wellford Tabor.  The exclusive media sponsor is CA Media/gomemphis.com.  Additional funding comes from First Tennessee Foundation’s ArtsFirst.

Likely inspired by the European traveling troupes performing Commedia dell’arte, William Shakespeare composed either or both The Taming of the Shrew and The Taming of a Shrew between 1590-1594.  Commedia was a comedy of broad humors that cast skilled actors and clowns in stock character roles, playing traditional storylines but with improvisations employing daily news and lazzi (gags, bits).

With a familiarity and even popularity today that rivals that of over 400 years ago, Shrew features a famous pair of hard-headed, though soft-hearted, lovers in Kate and Petruchio as they make their way from an impossible first date, through a rushed marriage and famished honeymoon, and finally a rare coming-together that has been staged as many ways as there are productions.

Read more: TSC Presents The Taming of the Shrew

TSC Stages Romeo and Juliet at Germantown Performing Arts Center January 28 and 30

Tennessee Shakespeare Company Stages Romeo and Juliet at Germantown Performing Arts Center January 28 and 30

Part of its renowned Romeo and Juliet Project funded by the National Endowment for the Arts

(Memphis, TN, January 9, 2014) – Tennessee Shakespeare Company brings a sweeping, youthful, full-cast production of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet to the Duncan-Williams Performance Hall at Germantown Performing Arts Center on January 28 and 30 at 7:00 pm. Opening night on January 28 will include a complimentary post-show reception with the actors.


R&J CastChildren 17 years and younger will be admitted FREE for both performances when accompanied by a paying, attending guardian. Limit: four per guardian.Directed by Stephanie Shine, Romeo and Juliet is part of Shakespeare for a New Generation, a national program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest. This marks the first time in TSC's young history that it has been nationally-recognized with NEA funding.

The professional, multi-ethnic cast of actors and designers from around the country also will feature a six-actor ensemble from the theatre department at the University of Memphis.

The production is part of TSC's larger social and educational investment in its community: The Romeo and Juliet Project. Piloted in 2012, funded locally by ArtsMemphis to expand into Memphis schools in 2013, and now funded by the NEA and ArtsMemphis for 2014, the Project will send TSC's actor-teachers into Carver, Booker T. Washington, Ridgeway, Kirby, and Bartlett High Schools to teach every Freshman the play through an interactive, three-day anti-violence residency through February.

Read more: TSC Stages Romeo and Juliet at Germantown Performing Arts Center January 28 and 30

Fifth Annual Valentine's Gala a Record Success

Fifth Annual Valentine's Gala a Record Success

(February 18, 2014) - On Friday, February 14 at Germantown Performing Arts Center, 450 guests enjoyed a rare Valentine's treat with Tennessee Shakespeare Company.

Broadway's longest-running Phantom of the Opera, Howard McGillin, accompanied by pianist Joe Thalken, left the audience on its feet several times -- particularly when he followed his hour-long performance with a mesmerizing encore of "The Music of the Night," from Phantom.

Afterwards, Howard and Joe graciously shared dessert, photos, and autographs with TSC's Platinum and Gold sponsors of the event, which set a fundraising record for TSC's innovative Education Programs through tickets, sponsorships, and exclusive auctions.

Howard's performance followed a sumptuous dinner that sat guests throughout the theatre, surrounded by TSC's famous open bars.

Save the Date for next year's Valentine's Gala: February 14, 2015!

 

(Pictured: Gala Chairwoman Anne Hamer McCarroll, in red; and Howard McGillin in performance. Photos: Joey Miller.)

Tickets Selling Fast for TSC's Fifth Annual Valentine's Gala at GPAC

Tickets Selling Fast for TSC's Fifth Annual Valentine's Gala at GPAC

A Celebration in Song with Broadway's Longest-Running Phantom, Howard McGillin

Sponsored by: Stephen and Alicia Davis, Jack and Sandra Jones, Dr. Owen and Jeannie Tabor,

and Deborah Dunklin Tipton

$175 Single Tickets Now On Sale

Only a Handful of $150-Seat Packages for 10 Remain

All to Benefit TSC's Nationally-Recognized Education Program

Get your tickets now!!

(Memphis, TN, December 27, 2013) -- Actor Howard McGillin, Broadway's longest-running Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera, will headline Tennessee Shakespeare Company's Fifth Annual Valentine's Gala on February 14, 2014, at Germantown Performing Arts Center.

Mr. McGillin's 50-minute show to benefit TSC's education program will feature his Broadway songbook and stories from his fabled 30-year career.

A two-time Tony and Drama Desk Award nominee for originating the role of John Jasper in The Mystery of Edwin Drood and his portrayal of Billy Crocker in the Broadway revival of Cole Porter's Anything Goes, Mr. McGillin has starred in the West End revival of Mack & Mabel, Broadway's The Kiss of the Spider Woman, The Secret Garden, Sunday in the Park with George, and as Captain Hook in the national tour of Peter Pan. Only six Platinum, Gold, and Silver seating packages (with tiered benefits) remain for 10 guests each. Please call TSC's Development Office today at 901-759-0620 for the best deal with the most benefits.

Preferred seating is available in the order in which calls are received.

Single tickets are now available by either calling the Development Office or clicking the "Purchase Tickets" button to the right.

The evening, which is expected to sell out, also includes a lavish buffet dinner, an exclusive opportunity to win a trip to Cumberland Island, Georgia, for only $25, TSC's singular live auction, and a fun new silent auction of 30 Celebrity Wine & Spirits baskets.

For more information, please call 901-759-0620 or go to www.tnshakespeare.org.