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.

News

  • Flannery O’Connor: Georgia Gothic
  • Eighth Annual Gala
  • The Shakespeare Brunch is Back
  • New Board Members and Officers for 2016-17

pic Flannery OConnorSouthern Literary Salon features
Flannery O’Connor: Georgia Gothic on April 21

Tennessee Shakespeare Company continues its popular Southern Literary Salon on April 21 with one of the more shocking American voices of the 20th Century – Flannery O’Connor.

Presented inside and outdoors at the spacious private home of Drew and Melia Murphy in Germantown (the site of previous Salons on Faulkner and Hemingway), Flannery O’Connor: Georgia Gothic runs 6:00–8:00 pm.

The evening features light Southern food, conversation, music, 45 minutes or so of readings from Ms. O’Connor’s works, and a mixed spirit of the author’s dis-liking (she preferred her coca-cola spiked with coffee).

Tickets are only are $55 and include all of the above.  Seating is very limited.

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Sierra Boggess, Broadway’s Original Little Mermaid, to Headline Eighth Annual Gala

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Broadway’s critically-acclaimed, soaring soprano Sierra Boggess (The Little Mermaid, Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables) will headline its Eighth Annual Gala performed at Germantown Performing Arts Center on March 10 at 6:00 pm.

Ms. Boggess will perform her one-hour show, Awakening, as the Gala centerpiece on stage at GPAC.  She will sing from her own Broadway and West End shows, as well as songs from other award-winning musicals.

The Gala benefits TSC’s innovative Education Program.

Sierra Boggess is best known world-wide for re-inventing the role of Christine in The Phantom of the Opera.  Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber calls her “the best Christine certainly.”  She played the role in the Broadway, West End, and the televised 25th Anniversary concert productions of Phantom filmed at London’s Royal Albert Hall (available on DVD).

She made her Broadway debut as Ariel in Disney’s The Little Mermaid, receiving Drama Desk and Drama League nominations, as well as the Broadway.com Audience Award for Favorite Female Breakthrough Performance.  Her additional Broadway credits include the revival of Master Class starring Tyne Daly, It Shoulda Been You, and School of Rock.

In the West End, Ms. Boggess appeared as Fantine in Les Miserables, and she originated the role of Christine in Love Never Dies, the critically-acclaimed sequel to The Phantom of the Opera, receiving an Olivier Award Nomination for her performance.

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pic the winters tale 2016 Photo: Elliot LaPlante. Kelli Radwanski Photography

Back by popular demand:

The Shakespeare Brunch

Join us for an elegant Sunday brunch, drinks, and an abbreviated Shakespeare reading in a beautiful indoor setting. Acted by some of your favorite TSC players, the reading is preceded by a delicious and thematic buffet with cash bar. Your $40 ticket includes the buffet and reading.

title the winters tale

by William Shakespeare

Sunday, November 20

12:30-3:30 pm
directed by Stephanie Shine
at The Memphis Hunt and Polo Club
Host Members: Margaret and Owen Tabor


Shakespeare’s late romance features a Bohemian rhapsody of near-magical redemption and forgiveness, featuring over 20 professional actors, including Carey Urban, Tony Molina, Darius Wallace, Stephanie Shine, and Dan McCleary.

Attire: cocktail/business casual.

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Three New Board Members and Officers Announced for 2016-17

(November 7, 2016) - Tennessee Shakespeare Company today announced its 26-member Board of Directors unanimously approved the elections of three new members and a slate of new Officers to its Executive Committee for FY17.

Melanie
Melanie Stovall Murry

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Michael R. Marshall

Joining the Board for three-year terms are educator Pat Casserly Kelly, lawyer Michael R. Marshall of Evans Petree, and University of Memphis General Counsel Melanie Stovall Murry.

Dr. Owen B. Tabor returns as President. His officers are Ernest G. Kelly, Jr. (Vice President), C. Cato Ealy (Treasurer), and Melia M. Murphy (Secretary). Their terms are renewable after one year.

Rotating to TSC’s Emeritus Founders Board is educator Ruth Dunning, who helped create the Company in 2007-08.

Pat Casserly Kelly, though she still finds herself teaching, is the retired chair of the English and Humanities departments at The Hutchison School and its recipient of the Margaret Wellford Tabor chair for Excellence in Teaching English. In her teaching career, she emphasized the great writers and thinkers of the Western tradition—Shakespeare, Dante, Milton, Austen, Dickens, Hardy—as she encouraged her students to become lovers of literature and independent and creative thinkers. Mrs. Kelly was a president of the Shelby-Memphis Council of Teachers of English and was recognized as a Teacher of Excellence by the National Council Teachers of English. She was a recipient of two National Endowment for the Humanities study grants, and was chosen by the U.S. Department of State for a teacher exchange program in Eurasia. She served two terms on the vestry of St. Elisabeth’s Church in Raleigh and was the Director of Religious Education there for 15 years. Currently a communicant at St. Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral, she serves as a lector, a Lay Eucharistic Minister, a member of the hospitality committee, and is serving her first year of her term on the Chapter of the Cathedral.

Michael R. Marshall is legal counsel at Evans Petree in Memphis. He is the co-leader of the Labor and Employment section and uses his experience in other arenas to reach solutions and resolutions to his clients’ disputes. He has extensive experience in litigating and resolving employment matters and other business-related disputes. He is a frequent speaker on employment-related topics. Mr. Marshall was the lead attorney in a case brought by the Memphis City Schools against the City of Memphis and obtained a $57 million verdict for education funding. Mr. Marshall graduated from the University of California and Southern Methodist University School of Law. He is a member of the American Bar Association Member, Tennessee Bar Association Member, and Memphis Bar Association member. He is admitted to practice law in Tennessee and Texas. Mr. Marshall has also served as the General Counsel for the Memphis City Schools, and is the general counsel for the Shelby County Emergency Communications District and for Lausanne Collegiate School.

Melanie Stovall Murry is General Counsel at the University of Memphis. Mrs. Murry joined the University in December 2002, serving as associate and assistant counsel. She was also an adjunct faculty member for the doctoral program in higher education administration for the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences. She serves as an instructor at the Tennessee Institute for Pre-law. Mrs. Murry graduated from the Tennessee Bar Association’s Leadership Law program and was a 2008 fellow of the New Memphis Institute. She is a graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Law, and has a Bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Saint Louis University.

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Tennessee Shakespeare Company is generously supported by:

Boyle         FedEx         Tennessee Arts Commission

International Paper             University of Memphis  logo-arts-memphis



     First Tenneessee Foundation    

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Individual Season Sponsors:

Barbara B. Apperson Angel Fund; Nancy Copp; Ernest, Pat, Martha, and Marian Kelly; Milton T. Schaeffer; The Family of Owen and Margaret Tabor;
Ann and Wellford Tabor.

Season Partners:

Boyle Investment Company, Dixon Gallery & Gardens, Hutchison School, Shelby County Schools, St. George’s Church, The University of Memphis’ Department of Theatre & Dance

Tennessee Shakespeare Company is a proud member of:
Alliance for Nonprofit Excellence       ArtsMemphis    logo-gacc          Tennesseans for the Arts     Tennessee Theatre Association     Where We Live