In Part 8 of a series of interviews with the Director and cast of Peace Mountain Theatre Company‘s production of Arthur Miller’s All My Sons, meet
Joel: Tell readers where they may have seen you perform on local stages.
Bill: Most recently I played Edward Seaga in the Baltimore Center Stage world premiere of Marley. I have also appeared in productions with Silver Spring Stage, including Orson’s Shadow, Red Herring, Farragut North, and the multiple award-winning Other Desert Cities. I received a WATCH award last year for my performance as Big Daddy in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at Rockville Little Theatre.
I started acting in the Army in the early 1970s and I have performed in Cincinnati and New York as well as the Washington area. I studied acting at HB Studio in New York and I have a BA in theatre from Miami University (Ohio) and an MA in theatre from Ohio State University. I only returned to performing about three years ago after a long hiatus, during which I had a successful career as a writer and editor for major publishing houses in New York and for the World Bank and other international organizations in Washington.
Why did you want to appear in this production of All My Sons?
I love a challenge and the depth of Arthur Miller’s characters is a challenge for any actor. I studied Miller in school and taught his plays in graduate school. I have also appeared twice in productions of A View From the Bridge and done scene work using some of his other plays. I love working on his well-crafted plays. All My Sons is not as frequently produced or as well known as some of his other plays, so this was a wonderful opportunity to explore the a strong character in a play that will be unfamiliar to most audience members.
Production quality is important to me and I try to pick projects that will set and meet high standards. I heard that Laurie Freed was a director who would do that and that she would attract a talented group of actors to work on the play. I am delighted to be working with her and with the wonderfully talented cast she has assembled.
Tell us about the character you play in the show.
Joe Keller is a successful self-made industrialist and a devoted family man. He is uneducated and a little rough around the edges, so he has struggled a bit to keep up with changing times. During World War II his foundry produced aircraft parts, some of which were defective and caused the deaths of 21 pilots. All My Sons, like Death of a Salesman and A View From the Bridge, follows the model of classical tragedy. Joe is the protagonist, whose fatal flaw is his single-minded, and entirely respectable, focus on building something for his family while ignoring the larger consequences of his actions.
Why is this show relevant for today’s theatregoers?
In the age of social media and the information free-for-all of the Internet, we have become a narcissistic society, more interested in ourselves and our own choices than on the affects those choice may have on others. There is, as All My Sons shows us, immorality in making such choices. Every day our news media report bad choices made by good people or good people “gone bad.” Miller is holding a mirror up to that.
What stands out most to you about All My Sons?
There is an undercurrent of love in nearly every scene of All My Sons. We see it among the members of the Keller family, the members of the neighborhood families, as well as in the affectionate relationships of one neighbor for another. But that love has been warped by the events of the past, leaving raw nerves, bitterness, and resentments. In part this is a story about what war does to love, how it twists it into a misshapen thing that can poison our lives.
What do you want audiences to take away with them after seeing All My Sons?
Through their tears, I hope they can take away with them an understanding that selflessness is necessary to serve our sense of communal well-being.
All My Sons plays from October 15-25, 2015 at Peace Mountain Theatre Company performing at Congregation Har Shalom – 11510 Falls Road, in Potomac, MD. For tickets, call (301) 299-7087, or purchase them online.
Meet the Director and Cast of ‘All My Sons’ at Peace Mountain Theatre Company: Part 1: Director Laurie T. Freed.
Meet the Director and Cast of ‘All My Sons’ at Peace Mountain Theatre Company: Part 2: Elyon Topolosky.
Meet the Director and Cast of ‘All My Sons’ at Peace Mountain Theatre Company: Part 3: Chris Daileader.
Meet the Director and Cast of ‘All My Sons’ at Peace Mountain Theatre Company: Part 4: Michael Sigler.
Meet the Director and Cast of ‘All My Sons’ at Peace Mountain Theatre Company: Part 5: Natalie McManus.
Meet the Director and Cast of ‘All My Sons’ at Peace Mountain Theatre Company: Part 6: Julie Janson.
Meet the Director and Cast of ‘All My Sons’ at Peace Mountain Theatre Company: Part 7: Charlene Sloan.
Meet the Director and Cast of ‘All My Sons’ at Peace Mountain Theatre Company: Part 8: Bill Hurlbut.