Friday, October 16, 2015

Spotlight On...Alex Etling

Name: Alex Etling

Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA

Education: I earned my BFA in Acting from the Conservatory of Performing Arts at Point Park University.

Select Credits: Alex in The Little Dog Laughed by Douglas Carter Beane, Blick in Time of Your Life by William Saroyan, and a fun and challenging doubling of Feste and Antonio in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.

Why theater?: Two reasons - the immediacy of interacting with a group of strangers all experiencing an emotional journey together - there's simply no other medium that can replicate that genuine connection between performer and audience. Also, the process of creating theatre is deliciously linear for an actor. Film is produced in such a disjointed way, and so much of the final story is told in the editing room, that sometimes you lose sight of the journey of your character. In theatre, the actor has so much more control over the trajectory and cohesive path of their character. It's tremendously satisfying.

Tell us about Row After Row: Shifting between the Civil War battlefields of 1863 and a pub in present day Gettysburg, Row After Row is a dark comedy that asks what it means to be brave in the modern world – do you charge ahead and fight at all costs, or stand your ground to protect what’s most important?

Who do you play in Row After Row?: I play Tom, a Civil War re-enactor and American History teacher, facing some very tough decisions. He's frustrated, and only made more so by the fact that he truly sees both sides of every issue - there's no black and white, only dozens of shades of gray. Will he stand his ground, or charge ahead…or maybe even desert his cause?

What is it like being a part of Cave Theatre Company?: As one of the founders, the Managing Director, and one of the actors, it's unbelievably gratifying to be able to participate in all levels of putting on a production, and produce art on your own terms. Now is the time to do your own work! In an interview I read recently with Time magazine about his latest historical film, Tom Hanks said, "…now when anyone says to me, “How do you get started in Hollywood?” I say, “If you’re not already creating, get out!” Because all the tools are at your disposal to put together any idea you want." I think there's something really incredible about the current creative industry - the barrier of entry to create has been lowered to such a degree that you're really only limited by your own creativity or resourcefulness. Many people would argue with me, but I believe that now is a great time to be an artist.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I'm such a sucker for the nexus of poetic language and ultra-naturalistic dialogue. I absolutely love playwrights who can weave gorgeously poetic ideas into the modern vernacular and context. Those are always my favorite lines to figure out and deliver.

Any roles you’re dying to play?: Katurian, in Martin McDonaugh's The Pillowman. It's my favorite play, and the mix of storytelling and humor is amazing.

What’s your favorite showtune?: "Nobody Needs to Know", from Jason Robert Brown's The Last Five Years.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Anyone? Like, really anyone? I think it would be Sir Ian McKellan and Sir Patrick Stewart in Waiting for Godot, like they did back in 2013. Every night, we'd switch roles, rotating between the three of us and having a great time. After our production closed (500 performances later), I imagine I would be knighted as well, so I wouldn't feel left out.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Hm. Well, I've been told that Jason Sudeikis and I share a resemblance, so that might work? I imagine the movie would be called "How Cave Theatre Co. Took the New York Theatre Scene by Storm"…too long a title?

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: I would have to say that being in the audience for the infamous opening night of the Orson Welles-directed performance of The Cradle Will Rock, performed illegally by the actors while sitting in the audience - that would have been a pretty unforgettable theatrical experience.

What show have you been recommending to your friends?: You know, there's this great play called Row After Row being performed by this hot new Indie theatre company called Cave Theatre Co., and…ok, ok, just kidding. Well, I'd really like to see Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King at Cherry Lane Theatre. I'm really fascinated by the experience of immigrants coming to America, and the idea of the American dream in the modern context.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Midnight cycling around the Central Park loop - I do it almost every night, and I love passing the characters that are in the park at that time - there's this guy who walks around playing a trumpet, and another guy on a skateboard with a big white parrot on his shoulder. And raccoons - I love seeing all the raccoons. They're the best.

What’s up next?: In October, Cave Theatre Co. will be performing our monthly Torchlight Series, this time with a fun twist on spooky campfire stories, just in time for Halloween. Then, we'll be moving on to our second full-length production - Touch by Toni Press-Coffman!