In Part 3 of a series of interviews with the cast of WSC Avant Bard’s production of Friendship Betrayed—a classic comedy by Spanish playwright María de Zayas y Sotomayor—meet James Finley.
Joel: Where have local audiences seen you perform recently on stage?
James: This year I have been seen in Live Action Theatre’s Capital Fringe Festival production Hero Complex, as well as the Ragpicker in Avant Bard’s The Madwoman of Chaillot, and before that in Rorschach Theatre’s Very Still & Hard to See.
Why did you want to be part of the cast of Friendship Betrayed at Avant Bard?
So that my wife (Director Kari Ginsburg) and I might actually see each other during the day sometimes ;-) No, but really, I was in the reading Avant Bard did of Friendship Betrayed as part of our Gaurav Gopalan Reading Series, and was taken with the play then.
Who do you play in the show? How do you relate to him?
I play Liseo, who is kind of entitled and oblivious. I think we can all relate to the idea of wanting to have your cake and eat it too, but hopefully we don’t act on it (and pay the price) the way Liseo does.
What’s the show about from the point of view of your character?
It’s about the cost of betrayal, and learning that something new is not necessarily something better.
Kari Ginsburg, the director, has set Friendship Betrayed in the 1920s. How are you creating a classical character with Roaring Twenties appeal?
I expect the real work will be done by the haircut and wardrobe our kick-ass production team is giving me. That, and we are hoping that the era of the 1920s brings with it the excitement of new possibilities and new attitudes, and that excitement hopefully infuses our characters.
What is your favorite scene that you are not in, and why?
I want to say the fight; but since I choreographed it, that feels like a bit of a cheat. Instead I’ll say the tango. If someone has to ask why a tango is exciting, well, I’ve got no help for them.
What is your favorite line or lines that your character says, and what is your favorite line that someone else says in the show?
Liseo makes references to the Greek and Roman pantheon several times, in an effort (I think) to sound more sophisticated than he is. He describes one of the women as “as ungrateful as Medusa and twice as cruel,” which is just fun to say.
My favorite line from another character is from Gerardo (Brendan Edward Kennedy), who, speaking to Fenisa, addresses her as “Soul of that ungrateful soul that has my own soul in torment.” Gerardo has some really terrific language; he’s sort of the original emo-poet.
What are you doing next on the stage?
I can be seen next as Clifford in the upcoming production of Ira Levin’s Deathtrap at NextStop Theatre.
What do you want audiences to take with them after seeing Friendship Betrayed?
I think I’d like them to examine their friendships, and hopefully find they treat their friends better than some of the characters in Friendship Betrayed!
I just want them to have fun and be tickled with these characters as much as we have been while creating this show. Cherish your friendships! Also, don’t date a Liseo. Get yourself a Gerardo.
Friendship Betrayed plays from September 10 to October 11, 2015 at WSC Avant Bard performing at Gunston Arts Center, Theatre Two – 2700 South Lang Street, in Arlington, VA. For tickets, call the box office at (703) 418-4808, or purchase them online.
Meet the Cast of Avant Bard’s ‘Friendship Betrayed’: Part 1: Alani Kravitz.
Meet the Cast of Avant Bard’s ‘Friendship Betrayed’: Part 2: Daven Ralston.
Meet the Cast of Avant Bard’s ‘Friendship Betrayed’: Part 3: James Finley.
Meet the Cast of Avant Bard’s ‘Friendship Betrayed’: Part 4: Melissa Marie Hmelnicky.
Meet the Cast of Avant Bard’s ‘Friendship Betrayed’: Part 5: Zach Roberts.