Michael: In the context of your personal, individual careers does Terminus fall into a pattern? Or does it represent a break in the kind of work you normally do?
Nanna: Well, about six months ago, I was just thinking, “it’s about time that I do an Irish play.”
Is that true? Did you really say that?
Nanna: Oh, yeah! Because there was a period where I was doing a ton of Irish stuff, and then that went away and, you know, you do the next thing and the next thing… And I literally did have the urge to be in an Irish play again.
And is Terminus filling that need for you?
Nanna: Oh, absolutely!
Katie: It’s been a massive learning experience for me, because I think a show like this forces you very quickly to gauge your strengths and weaknesses as an actor because there’s no one else up there. So, it’s technically probably the most challenging thing I’ve ever done, but also one of the most exciting. It’s been amazing, and it’s been wonderful, but it’s been very different.
Tom: The three plays I’ve directed have been all very different. The challenge for me was to figure out what my role is in this particular project, and I was scared to do too much. So basically I decided to stick with what I know, which comes from 16 years of being a professional actor and doing a lot of work with Shakespeare and where language is at the forefront of the experience. I just decided to be a conductor, and conduct it like a piece of music. But also infusing it with specific emotional content. I came at it from two different ways and for me it was a huge learning experience in terms of how to help people reach their full potential And it’s funny, now I think of them as different instruments. I think Nanna Ingvarsson is a cello, definitely…
Nanna: I used to play that in middle school!
Tom: Really? Katie Ryan might be a clarinet, or an oboe. And Dylan Myers is a violin. Anyway it’s a strange little band we have, with three very individual performers.
After acting for so long is it difficult to transition to directing?
Tom: It has not been, I must admit. It has not been at all. My great teachers, Michael Kahn and Joy Zinoman, have always said that I should do it. And I started doing it, and I realize why they said it. I love being an actor. But the only way I can describe the feeling of directing is fully alive. And sometimes as an actor, not always, but sometimes, I feel like I have to trick certain parts of myself to be a good. Actually, directing has helped me in my acting. I realize that in the past I probably tried to control the big picture too much at the expense of being totally in the character. So I understand now the importance of letting someone else take care of all that. And sometimes you have to, because there are bad director. So sometimes you have to manage the whole event so you don’t suck.
Walking in to rehearsal, did you have a clear idea of what you wanted in terms of characterization, or have the actors surprised you?
Tom: I think I instinctively knew how I wanted to cast it, and they just brought massive amounts of ideas and skills. So I am just conducting it
How did you approach the design?
Tom: I wanted to have one gesture that functioned as a place to tell the story. One theatrical element, a kind of purgatory, that seemed like it could be in the city s. I started with the definition of the word “terminus”.
And what does the word “terminus” mean?
Tom: Well, the first thing that came up is the episode of The Walking Dead (laughter), which everybody asks about. But anyway, the first definition is a train station. Another is an ending point. Another is a figure that rises out of the ground, in sculpture. Based on these definitions we created a platform to tell the story
Everybody always hates when I ask this question: in five words or less describe Terminus.
Dylan: Cutting through the truth with a chainsaw
That’s seven words, but I’ll let it slide.
Katie: Beyond desperate need for connection
I like it.
Nanna: Brutal, grotesque, gut-wrenching and funny
Cool. Mr. Story?
Tom: Brutal, brilliant, dizzying, roller coaster nightmare.
Wonderful. And my last question, which is the most important one: what are you asking Santa for Christmas this year?
Dylan: Guitar lessons.
Nanna: Sleep (laughter). Or maybe a weekend in the Bahamas or something.
Katie: Further employment once Terminus is over.
Tom: I’m asking Santa for a demon lover made of worms (laughter).
I’m sorry, what was that?
Tom: Demon lover made of worms.
Katie: (laughs) Just come see the show…
Thank you all so much for sitting down with me today. Good luck during the run.
Running Time: One hour and 50 minutes, without an intermission.
Terminus ended its run on January 4, 2015 at The Studio Theatre’s 2ndStage – 1501 14th Street NW, in Washington, DC.
An Interview with Studio Theatre’s ‘Terminus’ Cast and Director: Part One: Nanna Ingvarsson, Dylan Morrison Myers, Katie Ryan, and Tom Story.
An Interview with Studio Theatre’s ‘Terminus’ Cast and Director: Part Two: Nanna Ingvarsson, Katie Ryan, and Tom Story.
John Stoltenberg on Terminus in his column ‘Magic Time!
Review of ‘Terminus’ at The Studio Theatre. by Robert Michael Oliver on DCMetroTheaterArts.