Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Spotlight On...Christo Grabowski

Name: Christo Grabowski

Hometown: Maputo, Mozambique

Education: Waterford Kamhlaba, UWCSA (United World College of Southern Africa); Middlebury College

Select Credits: Victory (Ball), 27 Wagons Full of Cotton (Jake), Hecuba (Polymestor), The Good Woman of Setzuan (Yang Sun), Jekyll (Jekyll/Hyde), I Hate Hamlet (Barrymore), Road (Brink/Ensemble), Metamorphoses (Ensemble), One For the Road (Nicolas)

Why theatre? I’ve had a passion for theatre ever since a very young age, and while it wasn’t until Sophomore year of college that I convinced myself I wanted to pursue it for a living, I probably should have seen it coming from a long ways. I suppose I could turn to the deeper meaning and contributions of theatre in society as motivation, but in all honesty, I want to pursue a career in acting because it makes me happy on a very basic level. From the great people you get to meet and work with, to the exhausting experience of tech week, to the thrill of putting yourself out on stage in front of a packed audience, there’s nothing quite as exhilarating and satisfying as being involved in a theatre production, and I simply can’t imagine doing anything else.

Tell us about Spatter Pattern: Spatter Pattern, or How I Got Away With It, seems at first glance to revolve around a college professor by the name of Marcus Tate who is accused of murdering one of his students. It borrows many elements of the noir genre, and can easily trick you into focusing solely on this aspect of the plot. However, as it turns out, the play is really centered on the theme of coping with grief and guilt. The protagonist is a writer trying to deal with the loss of his lifetime partner, who ends up becoming embroiled in Tate’s story. It’s full of twists and turns, and while I don’t want to give too much away, I can say that it’s a play in which you can’t take everything for granted as being real. For this particular production, we’ve gone with a minimalist approach, with a barebones set that allows us to fluidly move in and out of scenes, creating a sort of “stream-of-consciousness” feel to the piece.

What is it like to be a part of Spatter Pattern?: It’s been an incredible experience overall. This is my first time acting alongside professionals, and my first show in NY, so it’s all very new and exciting. One aspect of acting in college which is something of a mixed blessing is the fact that you work with the same directors and actors over and over for four years, which allows you to build a great rapport with them all, but also leads you into a comfort zone with each other that can lead to laziness and falling into predictable patterns. Getting to meet and work with an entirely new cast and crew has been truly refreshing. As far as the play itself goes, my character actually consists of six smaller roles all portrayed (by design) by the same actor, which is a great opportunity to explore a huge variety of accents, postures, mannerisms, etc.
What kind of theatre speaks to you? I’m generally very open-minded, and tend not to disregard any particular style or genre out of hand. However, by nature I’m more drawn to material that is edgy and dark. I’ve recently become a huge fan of the work of Sarah Kane, and had very seriously considered putting on a production of Blasted as my senior thesis. While I don’t approve of gratuitous violence and sexuality on stage which is only present for the shock value, I do think that theatre provides us with a unique opportunity to explore the more disturbed, depraved aspects of our human natures, the parts of ourselves that we repress and revile.

Any role you’re dying to play?: Last semester I took a class on modern British playwrights, and was introduced to Peter Barnes’ satirical The Ruling Class, which was adapted into a movie featuring Peter O’Toole. The play as a whole is dark and witty, and I was very drawn to its protagonist, Jack Gurney, a paranoid schizophrenic British nobleman who inherits his father’s title as an Earl. The role is fascinating to me because the character goes from being a self-professed “God of Love” to becoming a psychopathic incarnation of Jack the Ripper. It’s just so full of potential to explore a dynamic range while still maintaining the arc of a single character.

What show have you recommended to friends? Last Fall I took part in a student production which contained a scene from Andre Gregory’s Alice in Wonderland (the tea party scene). It was undoubtedly one of the most entertaining pieces of theatre I’ve had the opportunity to work on, and seemed to get a consistently positive reaction from the audience. I also think it was a wonderful learning experience that taught me to embrace making bold decisions and trying out new things. A great deal of credit goes to the director of that show, Becca Wear, but there’s also no denying that the play lends itself to experimentation and playfulness.

What’s up next?: I’ll be returning to school in September, and already have two shows lined up for next semester: Nick Dear’s Art of Success, and a student production consisting of a collection of scenes which has been endearingly nicknamed Frank. Aside from that, I’ve got my senior work to consider. At the moment, I’m collaborating with a colleague to write an adaptation of Prometheus Bound. If all goes well, we should have an acceptable first draft by the end of this summer, and continue to work on it until the production goes up next spring.

Check out Christo in Spatter Pattern at the Atlantic Stage 2 until July 31!