In Part 3 of a series of interviews with the cast of Loves and Hours, meet John Dignam.
Joel: Please introduce yourself and tell our readers where they may have seen you perform on the stage before. What roles did you play in these shows?
John: I’m John Dignam and I’m from Catonsville, Maryland. My previous roles include: Tony Cavendish in The Royal Family at Salem Players; Willy Wonka in Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka at Salem Players; Dr. Scott in The Rocky Horror Show at How Do You Like Me Now Productions; and Otto Rupf in Romulus at Memorial Players.
Why did you want to be part of the cast of Loves and Hours? I have never heard of this play before. Had you known about it before? And what intrigued you about the play?
I had never heard of the play previously. I heard Daniel (Director Daniel Douek) was looking for someone of my age/gender and I knew that Daniel is a great director and wanted to work with him.
Who do you play in the show? How do you relate to him or her? What traits do you share? Does this character remind you of a similar character that you have played before?
I play Tom Houghton (I also play the bit part of “Roger” in one scene). I hope I don’t share too many traits with Tom, who is an arrogant, self-absorbed, successful businessman who is emotionally abusive toward his wife, Sara. I have never played such a character but am enjoying getting in touch with my inner a**hole.
What is Loves and Hours about from the point of view of your character?
I think Tom would say it’s about getting through life as a “success” with as few emotional commitments as possible (but that’s not what it’s about).
What challenges have you had preparing for the role, and how did Director Daniel Douek help you through these challenges? What was the best advice he gave you on how to play your role?
I think (hope) that my family and friends would say that I’m a genuinely nice person with a good heart, so I really had to work hard to portray a somewhat miserable person who treats his wife so shabbily. Daniel really helped me, not with advice, but rather with an exercise. Early on in pre-production he had me and Terri (who plays Sara) sit on a sofa on stage and he interviewed us as Tom and Sara. That more than anything has helped me get a feel for the role.
What is your favorite line or lines that your character says, and what is your favorite line that someone else says in the show?
I rather like the end of a line Tom says directly to the audience, referring to his wife, Sara: “I don’t know what she’s doing. I haven’t for a long time now” because it’s a rare moment when the audience might feel a little sympathy for him. There are many lines of the other characters which I love, but if I had to pick one it would be something the lead character, Dan Tilney, says to his ex-wife, Linda, when recounting how during a past marriage therapy session she had said what she loved about him most is how he loves her. Dan says he was hurt by that, “Because it was as if you couldn’t come up with anything better.” And when Linda questions why, he says, “It felt as if you were trying to say you don’t love ME anymore.”
What does Loves and Hours have to say to today’s audiences?
That no matter how complex, frustrating, or downright unpleasant our relationships can sometimes be with those we love, it is all worth it for the moments of true happiness we also share with them.
If you could change what happens to your character – what would you like to see happening to your character at the end of the play?
I suppose it would be nice if something happened to Tom which brought him a bit more happiness, such as finding a more satisfying relationship. Tom is arguably the least happy person in the production, and I feel a bit bad for him.
Why should local theatergoers come and see Loves and Hours?
Because it has a little bit of everything: comedy, drama, tenderness, anger, hope, hopes dashed, absurdity, sex, love, minimalism….
What’s next for you on the stage?
Immediately following Loves and Hours I will be playing Milt Fields in the Laurel Mill Playhouse’s production of Laughter on the 23rd Floor.
Running Time: Two hours and 30 minutes, with one intermission.
Review: Loves and Hours at Laurel Mill Playhouse by Ilene Chalmers.
Interview: Meet the Cast of ‘Loves and Hours at Laurel Mill Playhouse Part 1: Alan Barnett.
Interview: Meet the Cast of ‘Loves and Hours’ at Laurel Mill Playhouse. Part 2: Terri Laurino.
Interview: Meet the Cast of ‘Loves and Hours’ at Laurel Mill Playhouse. Part 3: John Dignam.