Monday, March 26, 2012

Spotlight On...Brendan Griffin

Name: Brendan Griffin

Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA

Education: Kenyon College

Select Credits: Clybourne Park (Jim, Tom, Kenneth, Playwright's Horizons, Broadway); Bottom of the World (Josh, Atlantic Theatre Company); Back Back Back (Kent, The Old Globe), Cyrano de Bergerac (Christian, The Old Globe); Founding member of Chicago's Dog & Pony Theatre Company.

Why theater?: Geez. If I'm being a smart ass I'd say it's because it's what I happen to be paid for at the moment. I'll let you know when Warner Brothers calls with a four picture deal and then I'll tell you why film. Well, I suppose theatre is what I learned to do first, but to chart the evolution of my participation in it and my reasons would be epic in length - so i'll keep it simple: Where else do you get to participate with other people like this? I mean, it is fundamentally bizarre, and there are a lot of sound arguments for theatre being a decaying entity, but when it's done right from nose to nuts it's a really exciting process. Performer or audience member.

Tell us about Clybourne Park?:
Clybourne Park is a special thing. It's a special play that does all the right things without being precious or bellicose. I mean, it is bellicose but in a really fun way. It's where all those that are suspicious of the theatre at it's myriad agendas can convene with what is, in it's most delightfully profane, a great piece of entertainment. And then, in a phantomly way, it sneaks up on you with its arguments and leaves you looking for the bar to continue the conversation. In a world where we indulge in a lot of issue plays, Clybourne's issues are hidden just well enough to have a subtle and insidious impact.
What is it like being a part of Clybourne Park?:
Pretty surreal. This was my first Off-Broadway show and it started as a pre-screen audition with Lisa Donadio. A few weeks later I had the part and two years later we're headed to Broadway. Holy shit. And it's not some piece of tooth aching candy, it's a real fucking play. I never would have thought.
What kind of theater speaks to you?: The kind that doesn't suck.

What or who inspires you as an artist?: Paul Newman. Over and over again I say Paul Newman as much for his resume as for his achievements outside the lines. I'm just sorry I'll never get to meet him or work near him, even. He's the kind of leading man that was a character actor underneath, and he enjoyed getting older because that's when he got to play those character roles. He was also a man of humility and privacy that sought work that meant something to not only him but the people around him. He had a life beyond what we saw, and he was the best at what he did, and that's not bad.

Any roles you’re dying to play?: My wife says she's dying for me to play Stanley in Streetcar. Personally that role kind of scares the shit out of me. I'd love to play Hamlet even though that scares the shit out of me, too. Things like Pinter, Letts, Odets, David Hare, etc. are things I like. Paula Vogel is awesome. But not specific characters, really. I like doing Shakespeare and look forward to doing it again. I guess I do a lot of new plays so it's hard to say. It's nice to have there be no point of reference for your performance.

What’s your favorite showtune?: '’It Isn't Over’' from Parade. Does that count? It's not very showtuney but it'll have to work since I don't know many showtunes. I do like the showtunes that were turned into all those jazz standards.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?:
It depends on who reads this blog. Sam Gold, Daniel Aukin (or Sullivan), David Cromer. Fellas? - The list goes on. I hate questions like this because you make a list and then someone asks you something like this and you can never fucking remember. I'd like to do a play with Reed Birney or Johanna Day. I bet they're a couple folks who wouldn't mind eating with their hands. Ian Rickson. I got to meet Roger Rhys once at Whole Foods and he seemed cool as hell. Jesus, this list is a lot of guys. I love working with women, too. I swear.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?:
Ed Asner. I have no idea what it would be called.

What show have you recommended to your friends?:
Peter and the Starcatcher. That play was awesome. Kin, Circle Mirror Transformation, August: Osage County. Definitely not Sleep No More. That sucked.

What’s the best advice you can give someone trying to make it in theater?: Sack up and buy a nice pair of shoes. I see a lot of dudes at auditions wearing a pair of Euro-hip shoes from Aldo that are beat to shit.

What’s up next?: That's not entirely up to me. Not yet.

For more information on Clybourne Park, visit