In part one of a series of interviews with the cast of Loves and Hours at Laurel Mill Playhouse, meet Alan Barnett.
Please introduce yourself and tell our readers where they may have seen you perform on the stage before. What roles did you play in these shows?
I’m Alan Barnett. I started doing community theater about two years ago, and I’ve appeared with the Victorian Lyric Opera Company in Haddon Hall and HMS Pinafore (Chorus), and at Laurel Mill Playhouse in Pride and Prejudice (Col. FitzWilliam), The 39 Steps (Mr Memory, Mr. McGarrigle), and Man of La Mancha (Sancho/Manservant).
Why did you want to be part of the cast of Loves and Hours? I have never heard of this play before. Had you known about it before? And what intrigued you about the play?
I had never heard of the play until I saw the audition announcement. I was interested because 1) there are good parts for an actor of my age, and 2) the director is Daniel Douek, whom I enjoyed working with in Man of La Mancha. When I read the script I found the play’s structure very interesting; the play consists of about 50 short scenes. A big challenge in performing the play is doing the set changes without distracting the audience or interrupting the flow of the action.
Who do you play in the show? How do you relate to him or her? What traits do you share? Does this character remind you of a similar character that you have played before?
I play Dan Tinley. Like Dan, I’m a well educated middle aged man with two grown children. Although Dan lives in San Diego and I’ve lived on the East Coast my whole life, I think we have similar values and world-views, and we’re both introverts. Unlike Dan, I’m still married (if fact, in our production Dan’s ex-wife Linda is played by my real-life wife Penni!), and I haven’t had a midlife crisis. Dan is quite different from any other character I’ve played, although I haven’t played that many, since I’ve only been doing theater for about 2 years. In particular, Dan is nothing at all like Sancho, whom I played in Man of La Mancha last year.
What is Loves and Hours about from the point of view of your character?
Loves and Hours is the story of Dan Tilney’s midlife crisis, and it is told from his point of view.
What challenges have you had preparing for the role, and how did Director Daniel Douek help you through these challenges? What was the best advice he gave you on how to play your role?
The first challenge faced by an actor playing Dan Tilney is learning the lines. Dan is on stage in all but 8 of the 50 or so scenes in the play, so there are a lot of words to memorize. Other challenges stem from the structure of the play: many of Dan’s lines are narration, in which he breaks the “fourth wall” and speaks directly to the audience, while in many of the scenes Dan doesn’t say much, but instead is listening and reacting to the other characters. To meet these challenges, Daniel helped me establish an intimacy with the audience during the monologues, and he let me know when my reactions to the other characters were too blatant or too subtle.
What is your favorite line or lines that your character says, and what is your favorite line that someone else says in the show?
My favorite (and most difficult) lines are Dan’s reconciliation with Rebecca and the monologue preceding it. My favorite line in the play is Rebecca’s: “Dad, I’m involved with an older man.”
What does Loves and Hours have to say to today’s audiences?
Since Loves and Hours is set in the recent past, the characters and situations are contemporary. The appeal to a modern audience is simple and direct.
If you could change what happens to your character – what would you like to see happening to your character at the end of the play?
At the end of the play, Dan is happy, most of the conflicts in his life have been resolved, and he has every reason to be optimistic for the future. No reason to change anything.
Why should local theatergoers come and see Loves and Hours?
The play is very funny and quite poignant in turn, and I think the audience will laugh, cry, and have a good time.
What’s next for you on the stage?
I have nothing lined up, but there are several auditions I plan to attend. In particular, I hope to get a part in the upcoming review Let’s Not Talk about Love at the Bethesda Little Theater.
Review: Loves and Hours at Laurel Mill Playhouse by Ilene Chalmers.