Thursday, August 6, 2015
Spotlight On...Harrison Unger
Hometown: Dobbs Ferry, NY
Education: BA from the University of Pennsylvania; Acting: British American Drama Academy (London) and the Atlantic Acting School (NYC)
Select Credits: Some favorites include Robert Lebrun in UglyRhino Productions’ adaptation of Kate Chopin’s The Awakening; the Narrator in Batz, a Batman comics- themed spin on Gatz; Greg, a dorkily endearing 7th grader at the Chesterfield Middle School Spring Fling Dance in Spring Fling ’98 with FullStop Collective; an embellished version of myself in Calliope Theatre Co.’s Six Windows Presents A Hero of Our Time, a very meta play about a young theatre company on the closing night of a play.
Why theater?: The incredible sense of connection you get with a live audience—that immediacy and spontaneity is infectious and at its best can vividly affect people, onstage and off.
Who do you play in Maybe Tomorrow?: Ben Humphrey, the loving and goofy boyfriend to Gail, a woman like any other, except that she chooses to live on the toilet of their trailer home for two years without ever getting up.
Tell us about Maybe Tomorrow: It’s a new tragicomic play that takes an incredible-but- true news story as a jumping off point and goes in very dark, hilarious, touching, and altogether unexpected directions. Plus somehow it’s also surprisingly relatable. (Alarmingly relatable if you’ve spent a two-year stint in a bathroom.) Did I mention there’s an actual toilet onstage?
What is it like being a part of Maybe Tomorrow?: Playwright Max Mondi has written a wonderful and wonderfully complex play, which has been a continually enjoyable challenge to delve into, and having director Tomer Adorian as our guide in that process has been an immensely positive experience. Plus the whole production team assembled by The Poet Acts, Inc. has been amazing—so supportive and capable. A real pleasure!
What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: Work that blends comedy and drama or blurs that line entirely, as is often the case in life. Shows that inspire the imagination while also speaking honestly about the struggles and joys of being a person in the world.
Any roles you’re dying to play?: Katurian in Martin McDonagh’s The Pillowman would be a fun challenge in a favorite play of mine. And I wouldn't mind finding out if there's a Hamlet kicking around in me somewhere, if given the right opportunity.
What’s your favorite showtune?: "Move On" from Sunday in the Park with George has always really resonated with me. And Sweeney Todd is a definite favorite show—I mean, the whole thing is a masterpiece.
If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: In theatre— Mark Rylance, Annie Baker, Sam Gold, the Debate Society, Alex Timbers, David Cromer, Daniel Sullivan; too many!
Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: People have told me Paul Rudd or Chris Pratt, which, I mean: I should be so lucky. If it's completely my choice though: I'm going with Paul Newman, no contest. In terms of a title, I’d say probably something with a pun on my first initial/last name combo.
If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: Oh wow, too many again—Mark Rylance’s Hamlet for the Royal Shakespeare Company; Cate Blanchett opposite Geoffrey Rush in the Sydney Theatre Company production of Oleanna; Mike Nichols’s production of The Seagull in Central Park with Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christopher Walken, Natalie Portman, Kevin Kline, and many other greats; countless more.
What show have you recommended to your friends?: Recently: The Flick, running now at the Barrow Street Theatre: it's flat-out incredible. Preludes at LCT3, an especially great show for any artist to see. Cuddles, which was part of Brits Off Broadway at 59E59, and Jacuzzi by The Debate Society at Ars Nova. (Those last two have finished their runs now though.)
What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: No guilty pleasures! If you truly like something and it gives you pleasure, no need to feel guilty about it, just enjoy. Go for it!
What’s up next?: I'll be acting in the short film "Your Resources" by recent Northwestern MFA grad Will Arbery (named one of Variety's "110 Students to Watch"). Then in October I'm re-teaming with my good friends over at Calliope Theatre Co. for a feature film (tentatively titled "No Can Do") about a group of Teach For America teachers on a weekend getaway that doesn't go as expected.
For more on Maybe Tomorrow, visit www.MaybeTomorrowThePlay.com. For more on Harrison, visit www.harrisonunger.weebly.com