Friday, July 13, 2012
Spotlight On...John Zdrojeski
Hometown: Wethersfield, CT
Education: B.F.A. in Acting from Boston University
Select Credits: Peer Gynt (Peer Gynt, Tribeca Performing Arts Center, Incite 2012); Assassins (John Hinckley Jr., Boston University Theatre); Arcadia (Valentine, TheatreLab at Boston University); How I Learned to Drive (Male Greek Chorus, Boston Center for American Performance, Studio 210)
Why theater?: I’ve thought about this question a lot since I graduated in May. In terms of why I enjoy acting for the theater, it’s really for two reasons. First off, from the first read-through to the last performance, theater is filled with unlimited learning. The form forces you to make new discoveries every time you work. If you don’t, you’ll just end up hating the whole process or performance. Second of all, it’s very athletic in a lot of ways, which I really appreciate. I imagine preparing for theater is in some ways like preparing for a marathon. You spend weeks and months practicing, working through your habits, in order to be in an ideal place when it comes time for perform. Then, during performance, you maybe get an intermission, but other than that, you’re devoted to telling a story for a few hours, and then you rest and repeat. There is no going back. I love that.
Tell us about Monster: Monster is a fairly faithful adaptation of the original Frankenstein story, while also being very much its own entity. There are some plot differences, most of which come from the need to flesh out certain characters to make the story theatrically sound. However, I love the original story, and one thing I think Monster really does a great job with is playing with the sympathies of the audience in a way very reminiscent of Shelley. I also think Bell does a great job of both acknowledging the Romantic nature of the original story and subverting it at the same time. To put it simply: all the eternal questions posed by the original Frankenstein are still there, but with a keen awareness of what is disturbing to modern audiences.
What is it like being a part of Monster?: I am fortunate enough to have worked on this play with Jim Petosa in the Boston Center for American Performance production earlier this year. To get to perform both times with such talented and different people has been an absolute privilege and a joy. I also have to say that while I loved the people who I worked with the first time around, I was not as big a fan of my own work in the first production, so I am tremendously happy to have another crack at the Creature. I’ve said this to Britian Seibert (who plays Elizabeth) incessantly, but the degree of specificity one finds taking time away from a text and then approaching it again is incredible. It is easy in my mind to generalize and turn the Creature into a monster who is just really angry at the world. However, both Shelley and Neal Bell create a character who is incredibly eloquent and sophisticated in how he exacts his revenge on Victor. The first time around, I think the creature was more of just a pure rage monster for me. Now, I think I tell his part of the story a little more accurately.
What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: Overall, I will always be drawn to productions that make the interplay between the actors the highest priority. At this point in my life, I hate (and I mean hate) theater that dispenses with the moment to moment truth of human interaction for the sake of a pretty stage picture. In May, I saw a production of Strinberg’s Creditors directed by Stephen Elrod and performed by Edmund Donovan, Nick Carter, and Britian Seibert, who also all recently graduated from BU. They had very minimal set, simple costumes, and little to no theatrical lighting whatsoever. One was left with the actors and the text. It was one of my favorite things I have ever seen, and it made me so happy and excited to be an actor and to tell stories like that in that way. The design did what it needed to to help the actors tell the story. That is the kind of theater I want to make, see, and talk about.
Any roles you’re dying to play?: Too many to list, but my top picks are probably Hamlet, Lord Goring in An Ideal Husband, Jaime in The Last Five Years, Andrew Jackson in Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Matt in Red Light Winter, and Max in Gina Gionfriddo’s Becky Shaw, although I need to be a little older for the last two.
What’s your favorite showtune?: “Make Them Hear You” from Ragtime.
If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: In terms of actors, I’d love to play opposite Phillip Seymour Hoffman in something. He’s my favorite actor in the world right now. I’d also love to do anything with Adam Rapp.
Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Any of my friends from BU would probably give the most accurate portrayal, and it’d probably be called “John, Boomer, and Other Variations”. (My nickname is Boomer.)
What show have you recommended to your friends?: I’ve been just trying to get to know the city a little bit, so I haven’t had time to see any shows, but I would recommend everyone come see Serious Money, the other show PTP is putting up this month.
What’s up next?: I’m playing Assef in The Kite Runner at the New Repertory Theater in Watertown, MA, and after that I’m coming back to New York to start living life as an actor here.