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

  • New Permanent Year-Round Home for TSC
  • New Germantown Municipal School District Partnership
  • New Company d and Memphis VA Partnerships
  • The Comedy of Errors
  • Our 10th Anniversary Gala

We have Purchased the Former Ballet Memphis Property to Create the State’s First Permanent, Year-Round Home for Professional Shakespeare Performance, Education, and Training in Memphis

pic newhome tsc2017(August 31) -- Tennessee Shakespeare Company today announced it has purchased the former facility and property of Ballet Memphis located at 7950 Trinity Road in Memphis as its first, permanent home. 

The announcement was made by Dan McCleary, the company’s founder and Producing Artistic Director; Owen B. Tabor, the company’s Board President for the past six years; and E. Frank Bluestein, the company’s founding Executive Director.

With this acquisition, Tennessee Shakespeare Company is preparing to create the first and only permanent, year-round home for professional Shakespeare performance, education, and training in the state of Tennessee.

TSC purchased the 18,484 square foot facility outright from Ballet Memphis for $1,900,000.  There is no mortgage. 

TSC, now beginning its tenth anniversary season, expects to begin interior renovation this year and be completed in Spring 2018.

The renovation will focus on modifying existing dance studios into a state-of-the-art, professional, flexible theatre for seating up to 200 patrons, as well as a spacious Education Wing.  The public lobby, restrooms, and support areas for the theatre also will be modified.

Centrally located to all of Shelby County just north of Walnut Grove Road, between Germantown Road and the northeast corner of Shelby Farms Park, the unique glass-and-steel facility will house all of TSC’s operations under one roof:  performances, training, education, administrative offices, storage, costume shop, scene shop, and commercial kitchen.  The facility was constructed in 1998, and an addition was built in 2012.  It affords parking for nearly 70 cars.

TSC and Ballet Memphis, longtime arts colleagues whose artistic staffs have collaborated over the years, entered into a Purchase & Sale Agreement in late June.  The sale represents one Memphis not-for-profit arts organization selling to another for re-use of a special purpose building.  TSC’s agent was W. Cary Whitehead III of Boyle Investment Company.

For the last nine years, TSC has created site-specific/environmental Shakespeare and classical productions, both indoors and outside, throughout Shelby County, partnering with long-time friends Dixon Gallery & Gardens, the University of Memphis, St. George’s Church, Shelby Farms Park, Germantown City Hall, Poplar Pike Playhouse, Hutchison School, and Germantown Performing Arts Center.

“This is an important moment in Memphis performing arts,” said Dr. Tabor.  “We have researched more than 50 sites in the last few years, and the former Ballet property is perfect for our needs and for what our audiences say they would like.  The Ballet’s new home in Overton Square is so impressive, and they have been wonderful to work with during this transaction.  We wish them tremendous success.  We appreciate that this special building is the launch pad for exciting futures for two important arts groups in Memphis.

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Announcing a New, Multi-Year Partnership with the Germantown Municipal School District for Cutting-Edge Classical Curriculum for Elementary, Middle, and High School Students

pic germantown partnership1Tennessee Shakespeare Company and the Germantown Municipal School District today announced a unique, multi-year education partnership that will bring immersive, cutting-edge Shakespeare curriculum to life for every student in grades five, seven, and nine.

Starting with this school year, all GMSD fifth and seventh grade students will participate in an introductory, immersive playshop to prepare and excite them for experiencing a full, live performance of TSC’s self-created production of Shakes, Rattle, and Roll.  The show pays tribute to our hometown heritage, creatively linking the signature music of Memphis to the works of Shakespeare that could have inspired them.

All ninth grade students will be treated to TSC’s nationally-acclaimed Romeo and Juliet Project, a four-part interactive residency that concludes with an intimate and riveting live performance of Romeo and Juliet.

The Project, originally launched at Germantown High School seven years ago and now operating in many Shelby County Schools, transforms classrooms into playing spaces to change students' expectations and reception of the material. The residency begins with three sessions that engage the students in playing three different parts of the play.  The positive impact on the students’ grades, compassion level, engagement in continued exploration of classical texts, and their rehearsed ability to walk away from potentially life-threatening situations in their own lives has proven quantifiable and remarkable in the scores of schools in which TSC has taught over the past eight years. 

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New, Exciting TSC Partnerships with Company d and the Memphis VA, and Expanding Programs with Jail East and Hope Academy

“TSC gives them models to express their feelings, which they probably have never done.  For maybe the first time in their lives, they think about the world around them and their role in the community.”

- Joyce Anderson, Juvenile Manager, Shelby County Sheriff's Office

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Hope Academy residency participants

We are thrilled to announce new partnerships between TSC and Company d and the Memphis Veterans Administration Medical Association.  Also this month (August), we are happily expanding our Shakespeare programs for adjudicated youth at both Jail East and Hope Academy.

TSC is spending August in residence with Company d.  Nationally recognized, Company d is a dance company of young adults with Down syndrome under the artistic direction of choreographer Darlene Winters.  Founded in 2001, Company d is committed to inspire, empower, and teach individuals with Down syndrome who have an inherent aptitude for the performing arts.

TSC Education Manager Carmen-maria Mandley and TSC Education artists guide participants through the tumultuous world of Romeo and Juliet.  Using movement and text, the dancers are immersed in Shakespeare's images and encouraged to discover their personal connection with the characters of the play.

"Company d dancers are having a dynamic experience with TSC this week,” says Winters, Company d founder and Artistic Director.  “The play and its language are being brought to life with interactive methods.  The partnership with Tennessee Shakespeare Company is the first partnership with a theatre company in this region.  I am so excited about this new and unique experience for individuals with Down syndrome, which will enrich artistic growth and expand cultural literacy skills."

Also in August, TSC begins working with veterans at the Memphis VA Medical Association. This program brings together service veterans with theatre practitioners to use the plays of Shakespeare in addressing combat-related traumatic and re-integration issues. The model, created by the Feast of Crispian Project in Milwaukee, WI, was created to strengthen the personal psychological resources available to service veterans - especially those with post-deployment health issues - through the practice and skills of theatre combined with the timeless themes and imagistic language of Shakespeare.

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Tennessee Shakespeare Company
presents its first Mainstage production of madcap
The Comedy of Errors

in partnership with the University of Memphis’
Department of Theatre & Dance
June 8-18

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Joey Shaw (Antipholus of Syracuse) and Blake Currie (Dromio of Syracuse).

Tennessee Shakespeare Company, in partnership with the University of Memphis’ Department of Theatre & Dance, presents William Shakespeare’s madcap, joyous The Comedy of Errors on the U of M’s Theatre Mainstage from June 8-18.

Featuring a professional cast of actor-musicians and directed by Shakespeare & Company co-founder Tony Simotes, the production sets Shakespeare’s shortest, wildest play in the exotic and dangerous Greece of 1600.

The story features two sets of identical twins, who, along with their parents, were separated shortly after birth on the high seas.  Now, more than 20 years later, Antipholus (the master) and Dromio (his servant) come to a new land that is hostile to foreigners.  Little do they know, their father, chasing after them, is imprisoned and faces execution at sunset for crossing the border unless he can find someone to pay his bail.  And little do they know, their identical twin brothers live here!  It makes for the funniest, most bizarre day in the country until a final familial revelation changes everyone’s lives forever.

Returning to TSC as the Antipholus twins are Joey Shaw (Romeo; King in All’s Well That Ends Well; Quince in A Midsummer Night’s Dream) and Colton Swibold (title role in Henry V last year).  Returning as the clowning Dromio servants are Nic Picou and Blake Currie (both from Henry V).

Making her TSC debut as Antipholus’ wife Adrianna is U of M alum Claire Hayner, and returning to play her sister Luciana is Rachel Brun (Juliet; Lady Anne in Richard III; Antonio in Twelfth Night; Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream).

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Save the Date for Our 10th Anniversary Gala

We are saving a table for YOU to join us for our 10th Anniversary Season Gala!  Mark your calendar now for Saturday, April 7, 2018, when we bring you a celebratory evening of performance and dinner in the beautiful ballroom of the Memphis Hilton.

 pic gala save the date 2018b

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