Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Spotlight On...Lowell Byers

Name: Lowell Byers

Hometown: Chappaqua, NY

Education: Denison University BA, Old Globe/USD MFA

Favorite Credits: Title role in Pericles (Old Globe), Sergeant Trotter in The Mousetrap (Alabama Shakespeare Festival), Thurio in Two Gentleman of Verona (Old Globe)

Why theater?: You just can't beat the thrill of a live performance. It's a chance for the cast and audience to be living and breathing in the same room together and just live in that current moment.

What inspired you to write and perform in Luft Gangster?: As a writer, I just felt the story had to be shared. It delivers what I believe is an incredibly inspirational message that one can never lose hope, in spite of being faced with insurmountable odds. Coming from an athletic background myself, these are the stories that I am most drawn to. As an actor, there is nothing more powerful than interviewing the actual individual you are playing. When I traveled down to South Carolina to interview my cousin face to face and see the look in his eyes when he was reliving some of these moments, I felt compelled to take on his role.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I love a good play in a black box. One where the actors are telling the story and can successfully immerse the audience into their world. Some of my favorite productions are those with a minimal set, maybe a few chairs and props which is what I love about Austin Pendleton's vision for Luft Gangster. I had a chance to see a production of Coriolanus in London two years ago at the Donmar Warehouse which incorporated a minimalist theatricality and was massively successful.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: I love working with veteran actors. They always seem to know how to encourage productivity in the rehearsal room which I think is extremely important. As a theater actor, it's important to know when to lighten the mood, and when to get down to work. I had a chance to work with Hal Linden while playing the guard in The Twenty-Seventh Man at the Old Globe two years ago. He celebrated his 84th birthday during our run, and he was a guy who had seen it all. I would love to work with John Lithgow. I have tremendous respect for his theatrical and cinematic work. He is an intelligent actor who always does incredible work.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: I loved seeing The Humans on Broadway. In my opinion, it wasn't anything too fancy other than a great script with a great group of actors. We need more original work in today's theatre and this was it.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: "I'm not that serious". Even though I come off somewhat stern, secretly, I love to goof around. I love a good goofy comedy and love to laugh.

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: I'm a big fan of Arthur Miller and never made it out to see Death of a Salesman. I tried to go later in the run and tickets were sold out. From what I hear, it was an amazing production. And of course, the industry lost two of the greats in the recent passing of Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Mike Nichols.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Junk food and sweets. Who doesn't right? I have a sweet tooth and love to visit the old fashioned bulk candy stores.

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: I love to cook. I learned various greek recipes from my grandfather who was born in Greece. Stuffed peppers and eggplant dip are my two favorites and family recipes from my great grandmother. That is always my comfort food.

What’s up next?: I'm collaborating with my partner in Cloverleaf and we are currently writing a web series together that is scheduled to shoot later this year. Other than that, I'm working on my next original play which was based on my graduate school thesis with the Old Globe MFA program in San Diego.

For more on Luft Gangster, visit www.sheencenter.org/shows/luftgangster/