In Part 1 of a series of interviews with the Director and cast of Spooky Action Theater’s Jarry Inside Out, meet Ian LeValley.
Why did you want to become a member of the cast of Jarry Inside Out?
I really enjoy playing with new works. That’s something that I came around to through my wife’s love of new work development.There is an uncertainty and freedom that keeps you on your toes. And i know Richard, he’s a smart man, he’s not going to produce something he doesn’t trust and feel passionate about. And Catherine’s reputation showed that she was no slouch. Even when I was told it was a work in progress I knew I would be game for the ride, and I have not been disappointed, It’s a roller coaster. I also have an affinity for plays about historical figures and events that have a surreal quality about them.
Who do you play in the show and how do you relate to him?
I play Dr. Saltas, Jarry’s thought no. 2, Marco Polo and Phleabeard. Saltas loves highly literate women, thought 2 is lecherous, Marco Polo Falls for the wrong Women and Phleabeard.. well he has a poop fetish…
What is the play about from the point of view of your character?
I think for Saltas it is most certainly about a docturd who befriends a great man, and becomes his fiercest defender.
What do you admire most about your character and what do you not admire about him?
I think Saltas is a narcissist which is a quality I don’t love in myself or others. However, I think he recognizes a purity and a true love of another’s talent. And I think that being able to put your own ego aside to see pure artistic integrity in another is a big step for someone like Saltas. Thought 2 is a protector and defender which I admire very much, he will also defend unpopular sometimes unethical decisions. And Phleabeard has a poop fetish so…
What did you learn about the Playwright Richard Henrich after you were cast in the show that you didn’t know before you were cast?
That he is a persistent and passionate man. He has been working on this for a long time and it gives hope to those projects of my own that I have tucked away.
What advice and suggestions did Director Catherine Tripp give you that helped you prepare for your role?
Have you ever worked with her before? What is her style and process?
I have not worked with her before. She was great. She set the tone early on by telling us to not be afraid of leaning into the absurd but she wasn’t interested in us applying the absurd without finding heart. I think she is an open and trusting director who believes in a collaborative process, which is very empowering. Not to mention she has brought together a very clever and creative group of people so she was very smart to put those talents to work. She had no trouble letting us explore and no trouble letting us know what worked and what never to do again. She has created, what I believe is a clear cohesive visual language for this play.
What have been some of the challenges you have faced in rehearsals and/or preparing for your role?
My body hating me for the physical demands that I want it to step up to. I’m not a kid any more and physically I am no Ryan Sellers. Catherine was constantly worried that we not push too far beyond our physical limits. My confession is that I have taken a lot of Ibuprofen, sought the aid of a masseur, and have a pending appointment with a chiropractor. Growing up I watched my mother, who was a dancer, throw every ounce of herself into beauty and grace and i feel that whenever you are given permission to create a physical language you should speak loudly and clearly.
What character is so much like you and why?
I don’t know that there is a single character that is so much like me. In this situation we are all elements of Jarry’s Brain and the thoughts are so much like my own. They so seeds of doubt, they tell me that I am brilliant, they fly away when I need them to stay they stay when I need them gone they say inappropriate things, they are irrational they constantly fight and contradict. and I love them while at once despising them
What line that someone else says is your favorite?
Oscar Wilde as the Lilly: “I am White.” It’s all in Mikey’s delivery
What themes and issues does the play address that current audiences will be able to relate to?
The importance of thumbing your nose at the status quo, how does an artist find his own voice while still trying to eek out a living. How the people around you can elevate you and drag you down. Those themes are all there but I think the audience just needs to come bathe in this world and let it wash over you. For me this play is like attending any museum of contemporary art; after you have walked through, you need to have a coffee or an absinthe, decompress and you will find yourself revisiting the pieces that elated, angered and exhilarated you at first glance compared to how they effect you after some time has passed.
What are you doing next on the stage after Jarry Inside Out?
It is another new play by Susan Zedar, which is part of the Women’s Voices Theater Festival, called When She Had Wings It is a beautiful play inspired by Amelia Earhart and it will be at Imagination Stage
What do you want audiences to take with them after watching Jarry Inside Out?
I would hope that it would spark an interest in researching Jarry. No telling what rabbit hole will you end up in? He was a fascinating character who lived in an amazing time in Paris. And his work helped to define the next half, if not full, century of art and literature. If not for him there is no DADA if no dada no surrealism no absurdism on and on. So I guess he got his wish of immortality in a way. Good for him.
Running Time: 2 hours and 10 minutes, with an intermission.
Jarry Inside Out plays through June 21, 2015 at Spooky Action Theater, performing at Universalist National Memorial Church – 1810 16th Street NW, in Washington, DC. Tickets can be purchased at the door or online.
Robert Michael Oliver reviews ‘Jarry Inside Out’ on DCMetroTheaterArts.