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Actors I Want To Write For

Sunday, October 18, 2009 Leave a Comment

In the spirit of this post regarding plays that need doing in NYC, I thought it might be fun to give a shout-out to actors I want to write for.

Playwrights, I'm sure you've had this experience - you see an actor perform and start test driving them in your mind - writing little scenes for them or trying them out in parts already written. In The Lesser Seductions of History, I've had the opportunity to write for most of the actors in the Ensemble, and I confess that I'm addicted now. (Have actors? I want to write for them).

And lately I've been seeing some amazing actors that (Athena-like) are knocking on my brain. So while writing for the Ensemble is my happy priority, here are some of the artists (some I know, some I don't) I'd love to moonlight with. I've left off Ensemble Members and those amazing artists who are regulars at Flux Sundays (Jane Taylor, Ken Glickfeld, etc.) because you've heard about me rave about them before.

Jessica Angleskhan: She played a fierce and vulnerable Marisol in our Food:Soul of Volleygirls , and I've wanted to work with her again since. She has a natural ease with heightened language; and is one of those actors that you can drop just one word in and she'll take it and build a house with it.

Amir Arison: His virtuoso portrayal of an extremely confident Iraqi dermatologist in Aftermath was somehow both completely ridiculous and utterly sincere.

Kira Blaskovich: I still vividly remember the Shepard monologue she did in her first audition; all whiskey and smoke and nails. One Flux Sunday (the only one she's even been to, sigh) I cast her as the dangerously charismatic dude Donny because I knew she had more dangerously charismatic dude in her than all the men present.

Havilah Brewster: After her work in our Poetic Larceny, everyone in Flux was struck by her hilarious precision and that slight edge of danger that all interesting actors have. Watching her act is a little like watching a knife thrower.

Adam Driver: Adam's work in Slipping had an easy menace that was absolutely riveting. That old adage (that I may have made up) is never put a cat on stage, because its focus in the moment will always exceed the presence of the helplessly acting actors; with Adam, I would fear for the cat.

Aidan Kane: We worked with Aidan on Poetic Larceny and have very nearly cast him in three wildly different roles, a testament to his wide range. His natural charisma and good looks hide a willingness to push himself to ugly and foolish extremes.

Kelli Holsopple: Kelli's acting has a transparency like a pool of clear water; you can see clear to the bottom, and the slightest movement sets off ripples that reach to the back of the house. We've cast her in the Imagination Compact and Poetic Larceny, and both times were stunned by how much she was able to achieve with so little.

Rebecca Lingafelter: Rebecca's energy as an actor could power a small town, and she filters it through a ferocious precision that is exhilarating to watch - her performance in Artifacts of Consequence was one of my favorites this year.

Keith Powell: You might know Keith from his role as Toofer on 30 Rock. What you might not know is he is also an astonishingly talented theatre actor, director and playwright. One of my principal collaborators on my plays Kidding Jane and Good Hope, Keith is one of the most restlessly intelligent artists I know, and makes any script he works on better.

Patrick Shearer: You've heard me rave about him A Colorful World - he was able to achieve power through a simplicity that made you worry the whole stage might be crushed inward by his gravity.

Raushana Simmons: Raushanah recently took over the role of Martha in The Lesser Seductions of History, and I have been amazed by her curiosity as an artist; the way she peels back layer after layer of character until she gets to the core of it; and then how that core powers her performance with strength and simplicity.

Nitya Vidyasagar: Our Puck in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Nitya is one of those special actors who can make the most outlandishly heightened and magical text completely human and present. She also has that lighthouse affect on stage - where she looks is illuminated, and where she doesn't is darkness.

DeWanda Wise: Our original Martha, DeWanda is just plain radiant. She can be pure sweetness and terrifying rage but underneath it all is a generosity of spirit that makes it hard to stop watching. I like the way my words sound when she speaks them, and I'm hoping she can be a part of my next play Stepping.

This is a very short list, and if of course I opened it up to the Ensemble and Flux Sunday regulars, would be a mile long. I just love actors, and I adore writing for them.

Playwrights, who is on your list?
How about you, directors? Actors, who do long for as a scene partner? Critics, what pairings do your dream of?
Post away friends. And then go write for some actors.


  • David said:  

    Hey Gus, if you wanna write ten minutes for any of those cats we are always happy to give it a slot in Sticky. A few of them are even Sticky veterans.

  • Carissa said:  

    I dream of doing a Gus Schulenberg play for adults...

  • Carissa said:  

    and an Erin Browne play.
    there are so many people I would love to work with onstage and offstage, the list is longer than my cane.

  • DPS said:  

    Thanks, Gus!! That's very sweet of you. [You name it and I'm there.]


  • Isaiah Tanenbaum said:  

    Hey, didja all know that November is National Playwriting month? It is! You could write for these very actors, Gus, although I know you hardly need an excuse to get busy with the writing. Info: http://www.naplwrimo

  • Matt A said:  

    Great list, Gus! You've inspired me...

    I feel so naughty writing a Flux-centric wish-list! I'll also head this with the caveat that I couldn't possible include every string pulling at my head.

    Here comes my Christmas wish list:

    I'm dying to be in an Adam Szymkowicz comedy (dare I say I even want to direct one??). Shit. I can't get started on the list of plays by Fluxwrights whose scripts I've gotten to read.

    I want to play Marc in 'Art' with Isaiah as Serge and Brian as Ivan!

    I want to play Kelly's brother.

    I'd love to work with Marnie and Zack someday.

    And I want to watch a play where Richard Watson and Christina Shipp fight.

    SHIT! Too many to write here!

  • August Schulenburg said:  

    @David That's a great idea - I'd love to do Sticky again - when's the next round?

    @Carissa I think Rumplestiltskin may have actually been more appropriate for adults...

    @Matt Shipp vs Watson??? Steel cage.

  • Jessica said:  

    Hey Gus!
    I am flattered and grateful for your blog, and I'm sorry I don't have enough of you in my life!
    Love, Jessica