Three young velvet clad actors sat down with me in front of the Know Theatre’s stage. At the end of the interview as I took the picture accompanying the article the three actors, Vandit Bhatt, Anne Marie Carroll, and Todd Patterson, all realized they were wearing something velvet. All three are very unique but they all bring two new elements to the Know’s 2007-2008 Season, freshness and enthusiasm. All three resident Know actors warmly demonstrated a rich passion for their craft. At the same time they are just really nice people who put forth a sense of normalcy one doesn’t expect if you buy into the old fashioned stereotypes of actors. I’ve met a few actors around Cincinnati and sometimes connecting with their audiences is not the favorite thing in the world. I was floored by the comfort all three had talking with me about their ideas, their careers, their acting experience, and their life this season working at the Know. That personal connection to the performers adds so much more to the theatre experience. At local theatres, like the Know, you can meet the actors and talk about their craft, their performance, the art of acting. That gives you value for your ticket far exceeding the price.
In our discussion I asked the trio about their favorite role so far. For Anne Marie Carroll it was her portrayal of May in “Fool For Love” by Sam Sheperd. She is a very beautiful woman who has a very Midwestern mindset. She came across as a grounded person who works very hard and is very conscious about the effort she puts into her craft. I also asked about the role this season each actor was looking forward to. With a warm wit Anne Marie declared that she is really looking forward to the next show. Males dominated the first production (“The Pillowman”), which included Vandit and Todd in key roles. Anne Marie professed her bias for musicals and she’ll get her chance to perform on stage in “Christmas to Come” opening on December 6th. Behind the scenes she was responsible for one of the more curious technical elements of “The Pillowman.” Near the end of the show Todd’s character, Katurian, is shot in the head. Yea, the run of the play is over, so I gave away the ending! A “squib” is then used to splatter fake blood on the back wall. My friends and I who saw the show together got into a nerdy discussion as to how they did it. We sat in the front row and couldn’t figure it out. It was like a magician’s trick. The two guys gave her a little lite ribbing about it. My guess is that it was one of the more technical challenges the actors face, as opposed to the technical staff. It might also be one of the more enjoyable parts of the show for Todd, who likely had to trigger it. I have to wonder who got to clean it up every night. The bad part is, they wouldn’t tell me the secret. I’m going to have to follow-up with them later and find out how they did it. Those are the little theatre stories that don’t get told in the media, but that make theatre a lifestyle unto itself. Anne Marie’s favorite drink is a “Moscow Mule” (Vodka, Lime Juice, Ginger beer- served in a cold copper cup) She’s not yet found a bar serving one in Cincinnati. She’s had a little bar tending experience, so I’ll take her word that it is a good drink. Her other big interest is in photography, which she as a younger person dreamed of taking portraits as a way of supporting her acting career. She chuckled remembering that, most because of the fact that she was trained in traditional photography (on actual film) and she therefore feels left behind in the world of photos.
The most laid back of the group was Vandit Bhatt. He had a beard for the show and comparing it to his head shot, I wondered if he purposely grew it for the show or if that was just a new look for him. He showed that heis laid back when he didn’t mind that I mispronounced his name. He at least didn’t show it. I’ll likely mess it up again, but my shortcomings don’t phase an actor who comes across with a sly sense of wit, but with an undertone of intensity that exploded with his performance in “The Pillowman.” He was the last person asked about his favorite theatre genre, and after the first two answered “musicals” he smoothly quipped “Ah…I shy away from Musicals,” after which Ann Marie and Todd burst out laughing. I take it that Vandit is not keen on singing, or at least his singing in comparison to the others. I think I should have asked him about that, but not every actor needs to be an opera singer. Vandit favors a Rum and diet Coke as his drink of He’s not one to drink for the experience of drinking, it is more about the other affects of drinking. He was emphatic that he does not drink Tequila. He favors Shakespeare as his favorite theatre genre and is wild about movies.
The most energy of the trio clearly lies with Todd Patterson. His personality is so very contrary to his first Know performance at the introspectively intense Katurian. His outside interests includes sports (soccer), but he sticks to acting in the theatre realm. He’s a beer drinker, so the Christian Moerlein OTR Pale Ale is he drink of choice at the Underground bar. I asked about how they worked on dialects for the roles in “Pillowman” and Todd mockingly and loudly whispered “For some people it didn’t take that long…” which was a light hearted ribbing of Vandit. The production included accents for three of the four leads. “It is another layer you put on-top of your role,” he said.
When I asked if they still get nervous before a show, the consensus was fairly clear. They don’t dread the show until the last second before the curtain goes up. Each had a different comment that showed a different layer of each actor’s personality: When thinking about doing a good job on stage or when thinking about performing here is what comes to mind: Todd: “Not gonna fuck it up” Ann Marie: “My nerves lie with singing.” Vandit: “Nervousness, at least for me, is that you don’t want to disappoint the audience”
“They trust us with the characters,” Todd confessed while saying that in most other theatres he and Vandit wouldn’t have been given the roles in “The Pillowman” they played. “This is the best an actor can get right out of college,” Vandit said, enforcing the trust he feels the Know Theatre has placed on him.
The next production all three appear in is “Christmas.to.Come”” a reworking of a reworking of Dickens “A Christmas Carol.” The show starts December 6th and runs through the 28th. Tickets are available online at www.knowtheatre.com or by calling 513.300.KNOW.