It is a real joy to witness creativity thrive in and around all of the artists at Peninsula Players. From those emerging craftsmen participating in our internship program, to the seasoned artists who are relishing the break from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Creative energy flows around everyone on campus and in every workspace; from the costume, properties and scene shop to the kitchen where our cooks, Deb Lampert and Shirley Wendlandt, keep company members energized with their tantalizing cuisine.
As company members gathered for meals during rehearsals of “The Actuary,” playwright Steven Peterson and Director Kevin Christopher Fox would discuss scenes, moods, moments and what might need tweaking.
Kevin made his directorial debut at Peninsula Players with “The Actuary.” He is an actor and director based in Chicago who began his theater career as an intern at a summer theater in eastern North Carolina while a high school student. As I introduced readers to Steve last week, I thought you might like to meet Kevin as well!
Q. Did you grow up in the Midwest?
I’m from Asheville, North Carolina. (I) Came to Chicago when I was 17 and (have) been based there ever since.
Q. Is this your first visit to Door County? How do you like to relax while you are here?
I came to visit friends up here a few times last year, but this show has been the first long stretch I’ve spent here. I love running on Gibraltar Bluff Road and sitting by the lake down by the Lodge at Pen Players.
Q. Why do you think theater is important?
Living, breathing humans in a room together with other living breathing humans, telling stories and exploring humanity together. It’s visceral, theater. Technology separates us as much as it connects us. Live theater will return in prominence as people realize they don’t get this feeling in many aspects of their lives. We’re built for community, humans are, and theater reminds us of that in the best way.
Q. Have you collaborated with playwright Steve Peterson before?
I first worked with Steve two years ago, directing a reading of what was then called “Baby Shower Bombshell” at Chicago Dramatists. Or, maybe then it was called “Whozit” -can’t remember now. But we worked together on a few versions of this play, now called “The Actuary” in a workshop and more readings. It has been a rewarding collaboration. That sounds like a canned phrase, so I want to tell you what that really means. It means hours and hours and hours of reading and notes and meetings, and rewrites, and then more readings and notes and meetings…rinse and repeat, over and over through several drafts of the play. We put in tons of time and energy because we were chasing the best possible version of this story we believed in. We are a good match.
Q. How is the chemistry between the cast of “The Actuary?”
What does great chemistry look like? You know it when you see it, right? There’s a gleam in their eye as they quip or fight or make out. It’s lifted into something special that makes us say ‘they’re great together.’ For that to happen onstage, something very real has to develop in rehearsal. There, chemistry starts with trust. I trust being vulnerable in this moment of rehearsal is safe with you. If you reward that with your own trusting gesture, I feel safe trying things in rehearsal and we discover new moments and solve problems uniquely. There are multiple pairings of couples in the show so this is HUGELY important, this question of chemistry. And with all of that said, I can say “The Actuary” cast has phenomenal chemistry.
Q. Is the rehearsal process at Peninsula Players unique? If yes, how so?
Are you kidding? YES. It’s SO unique. We all live here, next to one another. We eat together. There is less between us and realizing the show we want; arriving there is joyful collaboration with few impediments, because we’re all so happy to be here.
Q. How would you describe the story of “The Actuary?”
“The Actuary” is about a man who conquers Time with Love: A Romantic Comedy in Reverse!
Q. What is your least favorite question about your work?
“Do you just tell them where to go?
Q. What piece of art is hanging above your sofa?
Three five foot flowers I painted with my daughter. They. Are. Gorgeous.
Q. What is your next project?
Next big show is also a new play, called “Flamingo and Decatur” by Todd Taylor.
Q. What do you hope audiences take away from the play?
A ton of laughs, a ton of heart, and a couple hours seeing themselves up there. That’s what we’re up to here with this theatre thing. An audience member said to me the other night. “I loved it. It was so different. And so funny. And so well done.” I teared up immediately because that is exactly what I hope everyone takes home from “The Actuary.” Also, that woman was not my mother.
To learn if “that woman” is or is not your mother you’ll have to see “The Actuary” before it closes July 2.
Arrive early and relax by the bay, where the sun sets, the curtain rises and the stars shine! For more information, call the Box Office at 920-868-3287 or visit www.peninsulaplayers.com.