Joel: This is the final interview in our series “Meet the Young Cast Members of Olney Theatre Center’s Over the Tavern.” We end today with the eldest son.
Connor: I’m Connor Aikin and I’m 16 years old. I’ve learned a lot on the job, but I’ve been in the TWIGS program at Baltimore School of the Arts and that really helped my develop my craft. I’ve been in Enemy of the People with Shakespeare Theatre Company, Ah Wilderness with many more. My most memorable show so far has been at the Kennedy Center in a production of Coriolanus with the Royal Shakespeare Company.
What is it about this play that made you want to appear in the Olney Theatre production?
The play is just so hilarious and touching at the same time. I knew that it would be a ton of fun.
Who do you play in Over the Tavern? Tell us about your character and how you relate to him.
I portray Eddie Pazinski. He is a Meathead and numbskull most of the time, but he is also an extremely passionate person I think, a trait he gets from his father. He gets lectured and corrected all the time, something he doesn’t appreciate, which I can relate to. And as tough as acts he is a big softie, and he gets really upset when he sees his siblings hurt or upset, another thing Eddie and I have in common.
What is Over the Tavern about from the point of view of your character?
Over the Tavern from Eddie’s point of view is a coming of age tale that follows the journey of a immature, dirty-minded, adolescent boy to the strong, independent man that Eddie thinks that he has become.
What personal experiences helped you shape your performance?
Well I have gone to Catholic school so I understand the whole Catholic guilt thing, and that has really helped me understand Eddie and his concern with sinning and being “impure.”
What has Director John Going taught you about your character and what has he told you ‘not to do’ when playing him/her?
To be honest Mr. Going has been pivotal in helping me discover Eddie. I don’t think I would have as good an understanding of the character without him. He really showed me how Eddie’s thought process works and his technical advice (blocking, business, inflection, dialect, et cetera) has helped me to find Eddie’s physicality, and in turn has aided me in creating a much deeper character than I thought Eddie could be. One of Mr. Going’s biggest corrections for me is to slow down. When doing Eddie in the rehearsal process I had a tendency to go a little too fast with my delivery, as I perceived Eddie as kind of a fast paced character. Mr. Going taught
me that the attitude and energy level was right, but that if I made him too fast paced than the audience will have trouble not only with understanding me but forging a connection with the character.
What did you perform at your audition and how long after you auditioned were you notified that you had the role? Where were you when you found out that you had the role and what was your reaction?
When I had auditioned I performed the scene with Eddie and his Mother, Ellen, when he returns from his fight with Vinny and the scene where he is searching for Rudy’s catechism. After the callbacks it took a week or two for them to get back to me. I was at home back from school when I found out. I was pretty ecstatic.
What have you learned about yourself as an actor since rehearsals?
Hmm, that’s a good question.
I think this run has definitely been a great learning experience and has been a wonderful opportunity for development. In that respect – I have learned that no matter how good an actor I become that I can always do better – and learn more to help me be better at what I do.
What has been the hardest scene to ‘master’ in rehearsals and why?
Definitely the scene where Eddie first enters and is looking for the catechism. It is just so laden with business and intention and subtext that it was hard to make it work as a scene because of how much is going on in one little area, but one day in rehearsals I had an amazing epiphany and then I truly understood Eddie. After that the rest of the scene came easily!
Which scene – that you are not in – moves you the most and why?
Definitely the hospital scene. To me it just has the most emotional impact because throughout most of the play Chet is seen as malicious and abuse and angry, but then it is revealed that “Pop,” the grandfather, is really the root of most of the family’s problems. When I first saw the scene in rehearsal I was surprised, it just made Chet such a tragic character.
How are you juggling performing in the show and school?
Well it’s been tough to say the least, but the school has been doing what it can to support me, but usually I do make up work and homework during my breaks. Most of the time though I do all my work in class.
Tell me how your parents are an important part in your lives when performing on the stage?
Well right now my father is deployed to Afghanistan, so my mother is doing all of the driving for me and it’s been tough since both of our schedules are so crazy, but we’ve been holding on and working hard! So when I get on stage I feel that I have to perform to the best of my ability so I can make them both proud.
How has all your Shakespearean training and experience helped you prepare for your role as Eddie?
Having Shakespearean training has really helped me out in every performance I have done so far. I can really analyze a scene and pick out the subtext and emotional undertones of a situation, which helps in character development and forming a bond with the other characters.
What are you doing next on the stage after Over the Tavern?
No clue as of yet.
What do you want audiences to take with them after seeing you perform in Over the Tavern?
Their trash. And a smile on their face too!
Over the Tavern plays through October 21, 2012 at Olney Theatre Center – 2001 Olney Sandy Spring Road, in Olney, MD. For tickets, call the box office (301) 924-3400, or purchase them online.
Part One of Meet the Young Cast of Over the Tavern with Noah Chiet.
Part Two of Meet the Young Cast of Over the Tavern with Corrieanne Stein.
Part Three of Meet the Young Cast of Over the Tavern with Christopher Cox.