This is Part Three of a series of interviews with the talented cast of Round House Theatre’s How to Write a New Book for the Bible. Today, meet Ray Ficca.
Joel: Why did you want to be involved in this production?
Ray: I am just thrilled to be working at such a great theatre. This is my first show at Round House.
Introduce us to Bill who you play in How to Write a New Book for the Bible?
Bill has a great sense of humor.
What is the play about from Bill’s point of view?
It is a play about his family. It is a play about all families. Bill asks the audience to look to your own family story to experience what some religions would call the presence of God.
What personal experiences did you bring to your performance and does the character remind you of a family member? Did you base your performance on someone else?
I was taught by the Jesuits at Georgetown, so I can relate to the spiritual nature of the play. Bill Cain and I are very different people. But I did try to incorporate some of his rhythms into my role.
Are you a religious person? Did the show challenge and/or change any of your religious beliefs or views?
I am a religious person. I very much enjoy how this play’s highlights the spiritual nature of our lives. That is something both religious and no-religious people can relate to.
How does religion play an important role in the play and in your character’s life?
Religion exists in the play but is not a necessarily major theme. I think that would be family. Bill admits to the audience that he is a priest and then explains how many can’t believe he is.
Bill Cain puts you through the ‘emotional wringer.’ How would you describe his writing here?
Bill is a very clever writer. He is a very funny writer. He doesn’t constantly slam you over the head with what he is trying to say. He is can be very subtle one moment and loud and brassy in an instant. He knows how to keep an audience and actors fully engaged in the story.
What impresses you most about how about the lines he wrote for your character?
That I can say them and make them sound truthful.
What is your favorite line or lines that your character recites and what is your favorite line that someone else in the play recites?
I like when my character says, “I want to believe this matters. I want to believe that the before and after and the transition in between matter.”
Mitchell’s portrayal of Melanie (a twenty something female nursing student) is one of my favorite characters in the play. Watching him do that is worth ever moment. I like all four (or so) of her simple lines. Other actors would really kill this small character by overplaying it.
Danny in the “letters” section is fantastic.
I love when MaryBeth as Bill’s Mom says, “He’s got nothing better to do, he’s a writer.”
What has surprised you most about the audience reaction to the show?
I am surprised how every audience member can relate to some part of the show. Every audience member I speak to shares a story from there family with me.
You have some amazing designers working on this production. How does the design enhance the story or atmosphere? Is there a scene where you say, “WOW! – the design is so effective and/or stunning here.’
I think the “letters” section of the play brings all the elements together in such a great way. It is quite an actors/director/designer/stage manager/deck hands/board opts/ collaboration.
What does How to Write a New Book for the Bible have to say about and to families?
I think it encourages the audience to think about family. I can’t imagine experiencing this play and not thinking about you family.
Which character besides the one you play reminds you most about yourself?
I am most like the Pete (Father) character. I try to be as positive and optimistic as I can. I fail a great amount of the time, but I really try. Bill thinks and worries a lot more that I do.
What has been the most fun working with your fellow actors in this production?
Danny’s Al Pacino readings of scenes.
What impresses you most about their performances?
Ryan told us that this play must play new every night. This cast shows up every night to do just that.
This is Ryan Rilette’s directorial debut at Round House Theatre. How would you describe his directing style?
Challenging and nurturing. He’s also a lot of fun.
How has he helped you mold your performance, and what has been the most beneficial advice or suggestion(s) he gave you about portraying your character?
Take a breath. Funny, I breathe a lot (almost every second of every day), but sometimes I don’t allow myself to do it while rehearsing a play like this. Ryan knows when to tell you to breathe as well as when to say,“Just say it”!
How has this experience made you a better actor and what did you learn about yourself as an actor being in this production?
I can’t just pull out the bag of tricks on this one. I have to just do it and be truthful.
What’s next for you on the stage?
I will be at Totem Pole Playhouse (just outside of Gettysburg, PA) in The Sunshine Boys and Barnum. Then teaching at The National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts in September.
What do you want audiences to take with them after seeing How to Write a New Book for the Bible?
If your parents are still with us – call them. Otherwise, say “I love you” to an important person in your life.
How to Write a New Book for the Bible plays through May 5, 2013 at Round House Theatre – 4545 East West Highway, in Bethesda, MD. For tickets, call the box office at by phone at (240) 644-1100, or in person at the box office, or purchase them online.
Part 1: ‘Raising Cain: Meet the Cast of ‘How to Write a New Book for the Bible’: Meet Mitchell Hébert.’
Part 2: ‘Raising Cain: Meet the Cast of ‘How to Write a New Book for the Bible’: Meet MaryBeth Wise.’
Read Rick Westerkamp’s review of How to Write A New Book for the Bible on DCMetroTheaterArts.
Here is the cast and Artistic Team of Round House Theatre’s How to Write a New Book for the Bible.