Noah Chiet talks about playing Adam in the critically acclaimed One in the Chamber, now playing at The Mead Theatre Lab.
Joel: When did you first get the ‘theater bug’ and what is your first memory of appearing on the stage? Where did you get your theater training?
Noah: As I always tell people, I’m pretty sure I came out of the womb singing and dancing. After trying almost every sport imaginable, I finally admitted to my parents that I wanted to be an actor, and they pushed me to do my first show. My first time appearing on stage was in a production of the The Wizard of Oz. I played an old-man munchkin and Niko – leader of the flying monkeys. I guess you could say the moment I “caught the bug” was when I felt those hot stage lights go up. I started my theatre training at what was the former Musical Theatre Center (now: Adventure Theatre MTC), and I feel as if I got the rest of it first hand by observing and working with DC’s talented actors and directors.
When did you first get involved in One in the Chamber and why did you want to be part of this production?
I had previously worked with Liz Osborn and Adrienne Armstrong a few summers ago in Lake Untersee at the Source Festival. Liz knew Marja Lewis-Ryan, the playwright of One in the Chamber, and had talked with her about bringing it to DC after it had a very successful premiere in LA. From that point, Adrienne joined Liz as a producer and they worked together to bring it here. Since I had previously worked with the both of them, they told me about this amazing play and character and I joined in! I wanted to be a part of this production because it is such a powerful piece of work and the themes presented in the play could NOT be more current. I also knew that I would get the chance to work with Liz and Adrienne again, two unbelievably talented actresses, so I didn’t want to miss out.
You play Adam in the show. Who is Adam and what is the show about from Adam’s point of view?
Adam is a product of a tragedy and the way in which it was handled. When Adam was 10 years-old he accidentally shot and killed his younger brother. The play takes place 6 years after that incident, and follows a social worker who visits Adam’s house to determine whether or not he is able to be taken off parole. Throughout the show, Adam is mentioned and discussed by his family and the social worker yet he doesn’t appear until deeper in the play. From Adam’s point of view, the show is a recollection of his story and how both he and his family has coped with a terrible event and how it has impacted their lives.
How did you prepare for your role and how did director Michael Piazza help you prepare for your role? What was the best advice he gave you on playing Adam?
Adam is a character who has gone through a tremendous amount of complex feelings and pain, so finding a place to pull from within my own life was not the easiest task. Yet there are many moments in his time on stage where he is joyful and reminiscent of the memories before his little brother was killed and his life was changed forever. The wide range of emotions Adam experiences are definitely heavy, but as an actor, it was my job to dive into the character and script head first and to embody Adam. Michael Piazza was one of the best directors I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with. Since he is also an actor himself, he could really understand where the actors were coming from and communicate well. The notes he gave were so precise and useful – yet he truly gave me the freedom to create and evolve this persona and to experiment with Adam throughout the rehearsal process.
How would you describe the play that Marja-Lewis Ryan has written and what scene that you’re not in is your favorite and why?
One in the Chamber is a very potent piece of work. Marja’s script is so brilliant and it truly captures the natural way a family acts and responds. To be honest I love every scene in the show but if I had to pick one it would be the discussion between Jennifer, the social worker, and Kaylee, the older sister. Marja did a great job of capturing the mentality of teenagers and how they act today. There’s a plethora of funny moments in this scene that are great to have since this is a pretty heavy show.
What has impressed you the most about your fellow castmates’ performances?
Seeing how everyone has developed their characters from the first script read until now is truly amazing. It’s a joy to work with this group of actors, but you’ve gotta come see them for yourself to know what I really mean.
How would you describe the audiences in DC and what has surprised you about their reaction to the show?
The audiences so far have been really great. The Mead Lab at Flashpoint is an extremely intimate space so the audience is literally sitting in the dining room of a house. Having the audience so close combined with the intensity of the play truly creates a bond between us and the crowd. The thing that has surprised me the most is how deeply the audiences are connecting with the piece. We have talkbacks after every show and hearing how the audience feels and relates to the piece and just simply discussing the play is very rewarding.
Are there any roles that you have performed on the stage or film before that are similar to this role that you are playing in One In The Chamber?
The past three summers I played teenagers that were all going through some type of struggle. In Lake Untersee at the 2013 Source Festival, I was a boy struggling with a very deep secret. In Bethesda at last year’s Festival, I played a boy who had was dealing with crazy family dynamics. And now in One in the Chamber, I play Adam who is dealing with the immense weight and pain of death and guilt. All these roles can relate in the sense that they all deal with events or situations taking a massive toll on a kid.
What do you want audiences to take with them after seeing One In The Chamber?
One in the Chamber is a powerful play that brings up many different issues such as guns and how the government deals with families who suffer from these events and how they’re cared for after the fact. However, the play is not political in nature. It is simply a fictionalized account of how a family managed after their loss. I hope audiences leave One in the Chamber reflecting on and processing all of these issues.
Running Time: 75 minutes, with no intermission.
John Stoltenberg names Noah Chiet as a Scene Stealer for his role as Adam in One in the Chamber.