In part 5 of a series of interviews with Greenbelt Arts Center’s Dinner with Friends, meet Brian Lewandowski.
Joel: Please tell our readers where they may have seen your work on our local stages. Who did you play in these productions?
Brian: I’m relatively new to acting, and have been in a guest production of Agatha Christie’s The Hallow at Greenbelt Arts Center in June 2016, and in Neil Simon’s Chapter Two as George. In The Hollow, I played John Cristow, a consummate ladies man juggling multiple affairs. In Chapter Two, it was George Schneider, a man struggling with the death of his wife, seeking solace in a sudden new relationship that started with a call to a wrong number. I play Tom in Dinner with Friends, a different character from both, but with some definite elements if each, having met his lover over the phone, having his own affair, and struggling with the demise of his own marriage.
What made you want to be a cast member of Dinner With Friends?
I wanted to audition at an established theater, to get more experience with a seasoned director and cast. I definitely appreciate the consistent schedule and rehearsal space; it feels like I can focus on my role so much better. I’m learning a lot, everyone has been top notch. I hope you get to see us during the run.
What is the show about from the point of view of your character?
Being brave enough to make a life changing choice, even if you don’t ever fully realize the cost. Also, really *really* great food.
How do you relate to your character? What traits that you possess do you see in your character and what traits that your character has-do you wish you possessed?
I’m right at that sweet spot of Tom-ness, the same age, similar career level, similar energy level, similar life experience. Same great hair. :-) I don’t feel like I’m putting too much of myself into Tom. It feels like more of him is naturally coming out of the performance. But yeah, it still is eerily familiar. He’s a little more open and aggressive in his approach, rash is probably the best way of putting it. Well intentioned, if oblivious to the consequences. I’m probably a little more subdued. But we both want to enjoy life while we still feel so young.
How can audiences relate to the messages and themes and characters in the show?
The dialogue is pretty true to life, at least from my experience. Many people have been through divorce, or felt like they had make bad choices when friends broke up. I think each character embodies some aspect of that process, and the kind of arguments you have with yourself as you work through the absurd scenarios that a divorce creates.
What challenges have you had learning and molding your performance? How did your director Bob Kleinberg help you to fine-tune your performance?
Tom has a lot of anger early on, but it’s not something that can or should be sustained too long at a time. Bob was great in trying to bring some balance and range to Tom, helping me to turn anger into agitation, disbelief, regret, embarrassment, sarcasm, and even forgiveness.
What have you learned about yourself-the actor-while going through the audition and rehearsal process?
I feel I learned a lot from the direction and from watching my fellow actors in their scenes. I really appreciate some of the subtleties of their speech, timing, and actions. They are all so great; I’ve had to work hard to keep up, but it’s been fun too.
If you could write another ending for your character, what would it be?
That he would have had a chance to better explain himself to Karen. And that maybe he’d have learned to be a little more self-reflective like Gabe. I do feel like Tom is just going to be repeating a cycle in his life, or at least is not pausing long enough to see that he hasn’t really grown.
What’s next for you on the stage?
Hahaha, man! The time commitment is tough. I often think how much easier my life would be to have my evenings back! But every time I wrap up a show I feel a great sense of accomplishment and appreciation for my fellow actors, and I start to look for the next show so I can experience it all over again. I may need a little break after this one, but I don’t think I’ll be away too long.
What do you want the audience to take with them after seeing Dinner With Friends?
I think there is so much to take away, so many different stories, perspectives and just great moments. There are definitely sad things here too. But there is a sense of hope, that life will change, even if some relationships will survive, and some won’t. In the end, we can accept what we lost, forgive if we want to, and move on.
Meet the Cast of ‘Dinner with Friends’ at Greenbelt Arts Center: Part 1: Director Bob Kleinberg by Joel Markowitz.
Meet the Cast of ‘Dinner with Friends’ at Greenbelt Arts Center: Part 2: Jenna Jones Paradis by Joel Markowitz.
Meet the Cast of ‘Dinner With Friends’ at Greenbelt Arts Center: Part 3: Michelle Johncock by Joel Markowitz.
Meet the Cast of ‘Dinner With Friends’ at Greenbelt Arts Center: Part 4: Jim Adams by Joel Markowitz.
Review: ‘Dinner With Friends‘ at Greenbelt Arts Center by William Powell.