This is the first in a series of interviews with the cast of Spooky Action Theater’s Last of the Whyos. In Part One: Meet Randolph Curtis Rand.
Why did you want to become a member of the cast of Last of the Whyos?
I was in the first reading of the play, about 30 years ago. We rehearsed it, and then Barbara had an emergency, and the reading didn’t happen. There were others, but I was never involved again. This is the period, at the end of that open sentence.
Who do you play in the show and how do you relate to him?
I play Sweeney, who is a ward boss for the Whyos, one of the legendary gangs of NY. The ward boss didn’t really get his hands dirty, but had moved up through the ranks, and was now more a political figure- making sure the gangs did things that the politicians wanted. Can’t really say I relate- performing, for me, is about imagination.
What is the play about from the point of view of your character?
The desire for immortality.
What do you admire most about your character and what do you not admire about him?
Admire: He’s survived! Not admire: His single mindedness.
What did you learn about the Playwright Barbara Weichmann after you were cast in the show that you didn’t know before you were cast?
Her son is a grown man. I remember only a baby.
What advice and suggestions did Director Rebecca Holderness give you that helped you prepare for your role? You have been working with Rebecca many times now. What is her process?
Clearly I love working with Rebecca, because, with few exceptions, it ‘aint ever been because of the money! There is always a journey with her. She has exquisite taste in material, and if you ask me, she picks work that troubles her, putting herself in the middle of a big question, that she has no idea how to answer. And she demands us all to be right there with her. That passion, and that openness to stand in front of a group of actors, who are looking to her for abject approval and be able to say I don’t know” – that’s trust! And she’s got big cojones!
What have been some of the challenges you have faced in rehearsals and/or preparing for your role?
Sometimes I “get” a play quickly, and sometimes I don’t. This is one of the “don’t” times. There is a lot of digging, mostly to just be present, say the lines, and stay open to letting them change me.
What character is so much like you and why?
I don’t think there is any secret about this- again, imagination is all that really counts. There is no character “like” me, as characters don’t exist except on paper. In this way, “I” am “like” any character I play right now.
What line or lines that someone else says is is your favorite?
All the characters are figuring out something that is changing for them, and they say that “figuring” out loud. Ada seems the most advanced being in the play, as she is the most articulate, but she is also, perhaps, the most troubling.
What themes and issues does the play address that current audiences will be able to relate to?
As far as themes and issues for the audience goes, I have no idea. When Barbara wrote the play, it was contemporary, now it’s a period piece. She’s re-visited it, but I would say that they are mostly cuts which sharpen and focus the play. And the fact that the “modern” scenes are now 30 years in the past puts the play into greater relief. But themes and issues? That’s the audience’s job. I’ll let them tell me what those are.
What are you doing next on the stage after Last of the Whyos closes?
I’ll be working with Elevator Repair Service in April, in a revival of The Sound and the Fury, at The Public Theatre in NYC.
Last of the Whyos plays from February 5-March 1, 2015 at Spooky Action Theater performing at the Universalist National Memorial Church at the corner of 16th and S Streets, in Washington, DC. For tickets, purchase them online.