Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Spotlight On...Kyle Michael Yoder

Name: Kyle Michael Yoder

Hometown: Indianapolis, IN

Education: BA Cognitive Science, Yale University

Select Credits: Spread The Gospel (Russell), Icarus (Beau), The Crucible (John Proctor), A Midsummer Night's Dream (Lysander), Translations (Doalty), The Lieutenant of Inishmore (Davey Claven)

Why theater?: Having artists and audiences in the same room is one of the most intimate experiences you can have in the arts.  I tell stories and make theater because that intimacy opens people up to ideas and experiences other than their own and creates a space for real conversations to happen. At the end of the day, I want to understand people and to foster greater understanding between them. I studied Cognitive Science at Yale because I wanted to research the psychology, neuroscience, philosophy, and economics underlying human behavior; I act, write, and direct theater because I want to continue that exploration and bring people together in mutual understanding.

Who do you play in The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui?: I play Ernesto Roma, Arturo Ui's chief lieutenant and right-hand man. (Think Corey Lewandowski with a dash of Mike Pence thrown in for good measure.) Because of the ensemble nature of the production, I also play a number of other characters who I'll leave as a surprise here. :-D Lastly, alongside Noam, I'm a Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Lyra Theater, and as such also in charge of the creative direction for the company as a whole.

Tell us about The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui: The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui is the story of a demagogue coming to power in a democracy. It's the story of what happens when fear is allowed to rule under the guise of security. It's the story of what happens when imaginations run wild. The play was written in 1941 and the translation we're using was adapted in 2013, but watching this production, it feels like it was ripped from the headlines of the last year.

What is it like being a part of The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui?: It's amazing. As one of the Artistic Directors of Lyra Theater, it's such a joy to have such a wonderful and talented group working on our first production. Our designers have created a complex, multilayered world that really gives the actors a lot of room in which to play, and the cast has taken full advantage of that fact. Noam and I worked together during our time at Yale, and getting to work with your friends is one of the great perks of being in theater. :-)

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I am drawn to projects that engage artists and audiences in an examination of human psychology and encourage them to take social action. Artists have a unique position in the world: we are entertainers, but also facilitators of ideas. Whether we are considering some grand policy debate or the personal tribulations of our next-door neighbor, artists have a responsibility to make our audiences not only feel, but think.

Any roles you’re dying to play?: Oh man, so many. Right now, I'm really eager to play Kyle in Toni Press-Coffman's Touch. I also really want to play Hamlet in Shakespeare's masterpiece and Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet. But honestly, I'm always on the lookout for new opportunities explore just what makes a character tick.

What’s your favorite showtune?: It's definitely a toss-up between "Let It Sing" from Violet by Jeanine Tesori and Brian Crawley and "My Shot" from Lin-Manuel Miranda's Hamilton.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Will Eno. Will Eno. Will Eno. Also Joss Whedon. Just. Yes.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself, and what would it be called?: Can I play me in a movie about myself? And can it be called, "Can I Play Me in a Movie About Myself?"?

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: Violet, when it had Sutton Foster in the lead role! I CAN'T BELIEVE I MISSED THIS.

What shows have you recommended to your friends?: Before it closed, I heavily recommended The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time as a play that opened its audience's eyes to an experience of the world that is unfamiliar to many, making them more empathetic in turn. Taking a brief detour into the world of television, everyone should be watching Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. He understands that, by making people laugh, you make them listen, and then uses that platform to showcase stories and issues that need to be discussed seriously.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?:  Peanut butter. Right off the spoon.

What’s up next?: I've got a few things in the works that will be announced soon, but I'm really excited to continue building Lyra's constellation of artists with our open-submission platform and our Project Vega lab for new plays. We've got a few other exciting initiatives coming up as well, so stayed tuned!