Saturday, August 8, 2009

WRESTLING AND SHAKESPEARE AN INTERVIEW WITH SEAN LEWIS -one of the very first interviews I ever did (summer 2005)

A Lucentio of sorts, Sean Lewis may or may not have a romantic love interest but he is definitely in love with theater. You can hear the passion in his voice as he describes his journey from wrestling to becoming a successful actor, playwright, and producer of his own one man show.

Lewis, at age 26, has been acting for four or five years, he’s not sure. Originally from Pine Bush, New York he went to college at the State University of New York in Binghamton, New York. He had a wrestling scholarship until an injury ended his athletic career. In an attempt to get back in shape for wrestling, Lewis attended a movement class taught by an acting teacher. His teacher encouraged him to try out for Romeo and Juliet, where he scored the part of Lord Capulet. Before the part he had had no history in theater. Lewis says he “felt really lucky” and ever since then, theater has been the love of his life.

Initially Lewis says “Most of my family was like, ‘What the hell is wrong with you?’” and ‘Stop messing around and get a job!’” but eventually they came around. To Lewis, it never really mattered what others thought: “I’ve always been the guy who did what I wanted and the rest of the family was left scratching their head.” Well, Lewis’ life proves that he knows what he’s doing.

Recently Lewis has begun sending out his play Forrestry, to theaters who might be interested in producing it. The play is the story of Edwin Forrestry, who is said to be America’s first celebrity. It is the story of Forrestry’s life as an actor in the 1800’s. One of the interesting events of the play is a riot brought on by a competition between Forrestry and competing English actor Maccready that became so crazy that the National Guard was called in to put it down. Lewis found the inspiration for this play while sitting in a fellow playwright’s house and flipping through a text book. The text book featured a picture of Forrestry whom Lewis thought “looked like a wolf man”, he became so fascinated by this actor and his acting style and life that it prompted him to write a play.

Another high point of Lewis’ life is his one man show based on character Sean Boogie, a name that originated from Lewis’ own nickname “Boogie”. The show is about a young white male who enjoys rap music and hip-hop and his encounters with a well- educated black professor. The play, which contains 15-20 characters all played by Lewis, deals with society’s portrayal of what it means to be “black”, and jokes about the idea of putting labels on race. For a long time before he actually wrote the play, Lewis had been toying with the idea of a one man show until one day a theater called him up and asked him to perform it. Even though Lewis had nothing prepared he said yes. The actual idea for the show came from a series of connections Lewis found while going threw his own slam poetry; before that he had no “blueprint” of what he would do. He will be doing a show this coming March from the 2nd-4th at the riverside theater, where he is also in the productions of Taming of the Shrew as “Lucentio, the young lover” and Moliere’s The Imaginary Invalid playing from June 17th-July 10th. While looking in his backpack for the dates, Lewis comments that he is always scatterbrained and just found out about this night’s rehearsal this morning as he pulls random articles and papers out of his bag.

Throughout the whole interview his love for theater broadcasted loud and clear and I’m sure that Sean Lewis is destined to make his mark on the world of stage. During the end of the interview however, Lewis gave me his outlook on the ups and downs of acting. He says it’s like “making an agreement with the audience” “I’m asking them to believe.” He also says that it’s “such a joy for me.” He only wishes that more young people today would be interested in theater. I also asked him about his pre-show routine and he answered that it involved some stretching, vocal exercises, and running around, but that he doesn’t think about the show itself “some actors need to think about it, I need to not.” He says he’s been in a lot of good productions as well as some bad ones, and when you’re in a bad one it’s like “I just don’t want to be on the stage right now…(but) I might as well try and entertain someone.” Lewis also mentions that the rejection of not getting a part can be hard “and not getting it (the part), it’s’re killing me, you’re killing me slowly,” and that there is a lot of competition involved “the acting profession can be like high school...Catty.” Another thing that he made clear is that the moving and traveling with the cast can be rough also, “If you have a really cool cast and you’re in a really cool city it can be great…But when you’re surrounded by bad people it’s like, enough of this I want to go home.”

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