Thursday, August 15, 2013

Spotlight On...Luke Wise

Name: Luke Wise

Hometown: Madison, Indiana

Education: BFA in Acting from Ithaca College

Select Credits: Proof (Hal, The Bridge); Hamlet (Osric et al, The Kraine); A Frog in Boiling Water (Jason, The Beckett/Theatre Row); Romeo and Juliet (Romeo, Ithaca Shakespeare Co).; Macbeth (Malcolm, Ithaca Shakespeare Co).; Rhinoceros (Berenger, Ithaca College); Dave Davinci Saves the Universe (Dave Davinci, Ithaca College); Much Ado About Nothing (Claudio, Ithaca College); Measure for Measure (Barnardine, Ithaca College)

Why theater?: To be honest, I don’t have the slightest clue. I think it has something to do with Christopher Plummer’s performance in "The Sound of Music" (there’s not much live theatre in Southern Indiana). I would watch it, in its entirety, everyday when I was 3. Some days I’d watch it two or three times. That’s 8 hours and 42 minutes of 3-year-old attention span for anyone who’s counting. I’d sob hysterically if my mom didn’t switch the VHS tapes fast enough, so I got my hands dirty and learned how to use the VCR myself to expedite the intermission. When I was 4, my parents finally broke down and took me to see a live version at a dinner theatre. I remember nothing of this performance I’m sad to admit... but, funny enough, the actress playing the Mother Abbess became my voice coach years later. This is a really difficult question for me. If you turn the sound off and watch Mr. Plummer’s eyes, you’ll come pretty close to my answer though.

Tell us about Tartuffe: Our Tartuffe is the same bawdy, sexual, farcical exposé of aristocratic hypocrisy that we know and love by Moliere. In keeping with the spirit of the original production, which was censored by the clergy for hitting a little too close to home, we’re setting this production in Park Slope and taking an unflinching jab at our friends from Brooklyn.  In our production Tartuffe is a PBR slinging, Catcher in the Rye wielding, plastic-neon-crucifix wearing hipster who’s ingratiated himself with Orgon, a burnt out hippie who has resigned himself to a comfortable life of privilege and yuppiedom. It’s all in good fun. The treatment is less of an anachronistic social attack, and more of a larger than life,  contemporary periphrasis of your stereotypical Brooklynite. The play zips by in a snappy 80 minutes. It’s a great introduction to classical theatre and Moliere for anyone who hasn’t had the chance to experience his work outside of the classroom. Which isn’t to say the seasoned, PhD’d, French Classical Drama expert won’t find something to love as well. It’s also great for kids. The antics will keep the little ones entertained, and the sexual innuendo will likely go over their heads, but certainly pique the sensibilities of adults. So in other words... bring the whole family! It goes up at the new First Street Green Park in the East Village. You can find the dates and directions on FringeNYC’s website. It’s close to a ton of awesome bars and restaurants too, like JoeDoe (far tastier than the much hyped Prune across the street if I do say so myself... the chef is a fellow Ithacan, so I may have a tiny bias). Have I sold you on Tartuffe yet? Did I mention it’s FREE???

What is it like being a part of Tartuffe?: It’s an absolute blast! The rehearsal room is generally in stitches. We’re constantly cracking each other up and certainly not shying away from the farce. I play Damis, who exerts an extraordinary amount of energy given his little stage time. I feel like I’ve completed a triathlon by the end... not that I know what that feels like. We have a fantastic ensemble as well, which makes the piece very accessible and the language easy on the ears. We’re itching to share this baby!

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?:
I’m drawn to theatre and storytelling that creates an expectation and mercilessly shatters it... not cruelly, but certainly without a care for like-ability.  I’m inspired by generous performances. Douglas Hodge’s Cyrano comes to mind. Shocked he didn’t get a Tony nom this year. That being said, Tracy Letts was absolutely mesmerizing. I think I actually drooled on myself during the third act.

Any roles you’re dying to play?: Eek! Where to start? Richard II pops into my head first... some people reading this may be spitting in disgust, but I find something very compelling and dramatic about this play. He was also a red head!

What’s your favorite showtune?: Not sure if this counts because it’s from a film, but I love this great Jule Styne song, “I Fall in Love Too Easily.”

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?:

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Michael C. Hall and it would be called "The Life and Times of an Idiot: a user’s guide to f#@cking up everything and general mayhem". 

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Natasha Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812
What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Right now I’m dying for some catfish tacos, fried pickles, and a Basil Hayden’s with one cube to wash away the guilt.

Whats up next?: I’m actually changing gears a little bit for the next few months. A play I wrote, The Stand-Ins, will be getting its premiere at Manhattan Rep this fall and then I’ll be working on a film I wrote, and am also directing. It’s a story about a Brazilian woman, so we’ll be doing some filming in Brazil! ...and then back to the frigid NYC winter for the rest of the shoot. BRRRRRRR!! Speaking of winter... what happened to the summer in NYC?

For more on Tartuffe, visit and