Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Spotlight On...Maxwell Hamilton

Name: Maxwell Hamilton

Hometown: Manhattan Beach, CA

Education: BA in Theater, Global Studies Minor from UCLA

Select Credits:
Slipping (Rattlestick West); Mike and Seth (Encore Theater, Piece by Piece Productions)

Why theater?: Because its limitless! There are no rules! There is no endpoint, there is no final product, it keeps evolving and fluctuating, as we in our everyday lives continue to evolve and fluctuate. Even once performances begin, there’s still so much to discover! It’s never going to be perfect, and I think that’s the best part about it.

Tell us about The Gin Baby: The Gin Baby is a play unlike anything I’ve ever read or seen before. Sarah Shaefer is one of the most fearless people and writers I’ve ever been fortunate enough to become acquainted with- and she puts it all into this play. It deals with nasty, rough, dirty, terrible, mean and gritty and extremely, extremely personal subjects and brings it right forward up on stage. No filters. No hints. No winks to the audience saying “oh... you get the point.” Nope. This play summons the brutal nature of mental illness, alcoholism, selfishness and the everyday struggle to make it to the next day- paints it on a large glass window- and then takes a sledgehammer and smashes the glass right into the audience. It ain’t cute. It’s beautiful.

What is it like being a part of The Gin Baby: Being a part of this show has been very eye opening. I’m fortunate enough to have never had to expose myself to a lot of these themes in the show. That being said- when I read this script- I knew this was something that wasn’t only going to stretch any actor working on this, but this was going to stretch my perception on what’s possible in theater. And it’s been doing that and so much more. My character, Dave, has been a really great challenge for me. Taking the Dave and Amelia’s relationship and putting it into one scene in the beginning of the play- there’s no room for acceleration. I cant walk on stage and start warming up to the reach a climax during the scene. This play goes 0-100 in zero seconds. Dave is ultimate rage, vulnerability, heartbreak and bleeding love all at once, right when the lights go up. That for me has been a huge challenge as an actor- embodying so many extreme themes and bringing it up at 100 percent before the play even starts.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: This is where I think I am a very lucky person. I’m working in the very scene that keeps me going. Before being exposed to Rising Pheonix and Rattlestick, Daniel and Addie Talbott and Sarah Shaefer- I was losing hope for theater. I thought plays were becoming pretty- they were trying to put rose colored glasses on the audience so they could take their minds off their everyday life. If I wanted to take my mind off my life, I wouldn’t go to a theater and watch actors distract me- I’d lock myself in my apartment and play video games until my eyes bled. Seriously. That’s just the way it is nowadays. Theater needed to be something else- and these companies and these people exposed me to a kind of theater that made me feel things again. Something that takes the struggle, the good and the bad the beautiful and the absolutely abysmal things people face everyday and funnel it into a piece. I want theater to hit me in the face and remind me of the vast array of feelings we as humans can feel. I don’t want to hide in a theater. If I want to hide, I stare at my phone all day.

Any roles you’re dying to play?: I’ve been very keen on picking up on new works lately and trying to help create these new roles. For me as an actor, there is nothing more satisfying to give birth to a new character. However, of course, there are some characters I’ve seen or read and am dying to play sometime in my life. I would love to play Ken, the assistant in John Logan’s Red. I saw Jonathan Groff play him alongside Alfred Molina and was absolutely blown away. Speaking of Jonathan Groff, the performances in Spring Awakening still get to me. I love rock music and I think that story is beautiful, so I’d love to be a part of it someday. However I was fortunate enough to see my good friends Adam Cropper and Coby Getzug play Moritz and Melchior this past spring, and still need time to recover from that. I don’t think I can top what those guys did.

What’s your favorite showtune?: I love rock music and rock musicals like I said, but sometimes those classic showtunes really get to me. I was walking around the east village the other day and “Cabaret” came on my shuffle (which gets really awkward if that happens at a party and I'm being DJ) but it hit me in the stomach and I couldn’t help but dance on the street corner. For now, "Cabaret" is right up at the top for me.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Everyone. I know, that’s such a terrible answer to your question, but I don’t even have a list of people that I don’t want to work with. I’m game for anything right now, I’ve got no reason to say no to anything. In the near future though I’ll be working with David Van Asselt, the artistic director of Rattlestick Playwrights Theater and I’m beyond excited for that. I had met him about a year ago and have been a huge fan of his work and especially how he works. I think working closer with him is going to be a fantastic experience.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Hahaha well hopefully my life continues on a little longer, so I could have an adult play me and not a kid. I’d have Ellen DeGeneres play me. Why not. That’d be interesting to see. I’d make it very weird. Probably have it in black and white. Call it “Uprooted”.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: My friend Lindsay Nyman is directing something amazing in Los Angeles. She’s directing a piece called “SIT” with the CRE Outreach Foundation, which works with At-Risk Youth, the visually impaired, and military veterans through performing arts. I think that’s the coolest. Her play comes out on Feb 21st at the Promenade Playhouse. Couldn’t be more excited to see it.

What’s the most played song on your iTunes?: Ooo I’m glad you asked. My top played song on my Itunes is “Sinister Kid” by The Black Keys. I like that. It’s a great song- very funky and bluesy and makes you move. And the content of the song has really been hitting home lately. That’ll be my top song for a while, I predict.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?:
The band Hanson. I’ve seen them more times than you could count on your hands. No shame. It started as a family tradition/ joke when they got big with “MmmBop”, but their recent albums are actually really good- and they tour almost every fall, and you bet my family gets tickets and makes it out there. This interview isn’t public, is it?

What’s up next?: Once Gin Baby closes im sticking with Daniel and going to San Francisco to revisit a play we’ve been working on, Mike and Seth. We’re re-workshopping it, doing some changes, and also turning it into a screenplay to hopefully shoot over the summer. Other than that- I’ve got a few choices to make. There’s some opportunity in a few different places for me right now, one of them being a car and roadtripping to the South. I don’t know yet. I’ve got some decisions to make, but I’ve got time. : )

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