Thursday, June 7, 2018

Spotlight On...Ryan Wesley Stinnett

Name: Ryan Wesley Stinnett

Hometown: Army Brat (Although I’ll hit 10 years in NYC this August… so here!?!)

Education: MFA in Acting: University of Virginia

Select Credits: LOCKED UP BITCHES (Dir. Michael Raine), The Nomad (Dir. Elizabeth Swados), Take Care (Dir. Niegel Smith)

Why theater?: The community. The community of the people it takes to put a show on and the community of the audience that attends it. Nothing beats the energy of a live performance. An entire theatre breathing and experiencing the same emotions in unison, how could you not want to be a part of that?

Who do you play in the hollower?: Pigman

Tell us about the hollower: Without giving too much or not enough away, I would say that the hollower is a kind of modern ghost story. It’s not a ghost story in the traditional sense at all. The things haunting the characters of this play are all real-world occurrences. These characters are haunted by societal expectations, misogyny, gender roles and all the other systemic things that affect people daily. The play also has a lot of humor and each individual audience member is likely to connect to the show differently.

What is it like being a part of the hollower?: It’s definitely been a ride. This is the kind of play that opens itself up to you more and more every day. I’m still constantly understanding and learning new things about this show. I can’t wait until we have audiences because they will teach me even more about what is happening in the world of this play.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I am not a fan of theatre that beats the audience over the head trying to educate them. To me, theatre pieces that set out to educate generally wind up feeling self-congratulatory and the message gets lost, no matter how good their intentions are. However, I am a huge proponent of entertainment for entertainment’s sake because I firmly believe that when theatre is done correctly you should always be learning something new about the world and your place in it. I like my theatre to have a point and a purpose, but I don’t particularly like it when it makes its mission known. I like difficult plays that take risks with form, subject matter, storytelling, and language. I also like really, really silly and over-the-top things. When I do my own writing I tend to gravitate towards an absurd, accessible humor that celebrates universal themes and is appropriate for audiences of all ages. When I perform other people’s work I tend to gravitate towards much darker themes and subject matter.

Any roles you’re dying to play?: I would love to play any character in American Idiot or Hair (Don’t even get me started on how they are companion pieces and should be performed in rep), Andre in Three Sisters, and either son in Long Day’s Journey Into Night. Really I’ll do anything. I’m not that picky. I’d also kill to just be a factory worker in Kinky Boots or a parent in School of Rock. But let’s be real: the role I am most dying to play is anything that will get me my Equity Card. You could even get me to do a George Bernard Shaw play for that.

What’s your favorite showtune?: See above. Anything from Hair or American Idiot.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: I would absolutely love to work with Charles Busch. I’m a huge fan of his work and fun fact: the only play that I ever won an acting award for [so far] was a production of Psycho Beach Party that I did in North Carolina. As you may have already guessed, I played Star Kat, the most handsome surfer on the beach. I just love how silly and over-the-top his work is but how they also have a very strong kindness to them. They are never mean-spirited in their humor. I am also such a fan of the Youngblood Playwrights at Ensemble Studio Theatre. Past and present, I have always found them to be super top-notch. I would love to work with any of them. I am consistently impressed by the work happening at EST.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: At this point in my life I would probably be played by the newest, quietest, and most lonely freshman at Marymount Manhattan. The film would be called NON-EQUITY GREENROOM. They would do a fine job with the role, but they would become so frustrated with NYC that after the filming they would drop out of school and move back to Topeka, KS.

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: Easy: Passing Strange. Thank God Spike Lee filmed it.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: I have been such a bad theatregoer this year. That is, I suppose, the biggest problem of being lucky enough to be cast in back-to-back shows: you have no time to make it out to see what else is being produced around town. What I can say, though, is the show I am most excited to see and the one that is being recommended to me the most right now: Clare Barron’s Dance Nation at Playwrights Horizons. Hopefully I will be able to snag a ticket to see that before they are all gone. Better yet, hopefully Playwrights will offer me a complimentary house seat because I just plugged their show.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: The Voice. And I do not feel bad about that at all. Wait. What is a guilty pleasure?

What’s up next?: Unsure. Having just spent my entire 2018 thus far working on projects that couldn’t be more different from each other, a hip-hop parody of a certain Netflix show called LOCKED UP BITCHES and the super dark haunt-comedy the hollower, I’m don't even know what the next natural progression would be. Maybe a show that mixes upper-case and lower-case lettering in its title? Perhaps it will be getting my Equity Card for doing a Shaw play after all. Most likely though I will take a bit of time to give some much-needed love to some writing projects that I have been a bad parent to lately. I’d also like to get back into comedy for the summer so if anybody needs a timeslot filled on a character night, hit me up.