Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2010

A Few Words With Andrew Edwin Voss pt. 1

The Co-Star of Youngblood’s New Show Talks About Red Light Winter

By Russ Bickerstaff
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Recent UWM Theatre graduate and Youngblood co-founder Andrew Edwin Voss has been fortunate enough to be quite a busy. In addition to helping form the fledgling theatre group, he’s made some memorable appearances onstage in Milwaukee Chamber’s production of Picnic and Youngblood’s own environmental production of Savage In Limbo at the Landmark. This month he appears alongside Tess Cinpinski and David Rothrock in a production of the Adam Rapp drama Red Light Winter. It’s a play that explores the intimate side of human nature in the very intimate theatre space of the Alchemist. A couple of weeks ago, (Tuesday the fifth, to be precise) I had a chance to talk with Voss over a couple of beers in the third row of the Alchemist . . .

 

Me: You’re playing Davis, right?


Andrew Voss: Right. Do you know the play?

 

Me: I’ve only read the synopsis and various reviews from other markets.

 

Andrew Voss:  What do you think of what you’ve read?

 

Me: It sounds interesting in this space. It’ll be very intimate. Where is this in your comfort zone? You’ve appeared shirtless on one of the largest theatrical stages in Milwaukee [for Milwaukee Chamber’s Picnic]

 

Andrew Voss: I’ve appeared nude at UWM. I did a play called Mill Fire and I was nude. It wasn’t sexual nudity, though. My character was burned over 80% of his body. So my clothes had to be cut off of me. It was sort of representational image . . . that was crazy.

 

Me: [laugh]

Andrew Voss: To be nude and dying. This [Red Light Winter] is a little . . . I’m comfortable with it. When we talked about doing the play . . . we said we can do it one of two ways. We can castrate it and make it . . . not  “G “ rated, but make it “PG-13” or we can not.

 

Me: [laugh]

 

Andrew Voss: And it just seemed like an obvious choice to keep all of those elements in there. They’re very necessary in the play because it’s not just about them being physically nude. It’s the emotional nudity that’s really jarring.

 

Me: If I’ve read correctly, it’s really, really heavily into the nature of human intimacy and sexuality.

 

Andrew Voss:  Oh yeah.

 

Me: Which I would imagine would be much more intimate than anything you’ve done so far.

 

Andrew Voss: Certainly. I’ve never simulated sex onstage or anything like that. And certainly not simulated rape.

 

Me: okay.

 

Andrew Voss: We use that term loosely because  it’s certainly not a traditional . . .what you would think of as rape. There’s violence leading-up to it and it is in itself a violent act, but it is consensual in the end. So it’s just a really scary moment and we’ve rehearsed it a couple of times now. And it’s jarring. I feel like I . . .

 

Me: And you’ve got to have a level of comfort with the other actors, too.

 

Andrew Voss: Yeah, had I not been in school with Theresa [Tess Cinpinski—the sole female in the three person cast] for two years, I don’t know if we could’ve come nto this so prepared for it. We would’ve taken a lot more . . . goin’ to the bar and having drinks and getting to know the person before we’d be able to do that. But . . I just feel like it’s something . . . it was interesting to find out that a lot of the local Milwaukee theatres had . . . this play had been shopped around to almost everybody and nobody could do it. When we were in rehearsals with Picnic and I told [Milwaukee Chamber Theatre Artistic Director] Michael Wright we were going to do this, he was super happy. He’s like, “I read it, I loved it, but we could never do it!”

 

Me: Well, yeah, I suppose if you’ve got a board of directors and an older audience.

 

Andrew Voss: Yeah, it certainly wouldn’t fit at the Chamber. Even in their black box space. It’s so cool that our company [Youngblood] is able to be free of a lot of that. We’re going after a totally new audience. So we don’t have as many rules to follow. YET.

 

[laughter]

 

Andrew Voss:  We’ve got good mentors. We’ve got a lot of people who are excited about us. And supportive of us doing this kind of work—new work and edgier work. Stories that need to be told but aren’t always told in this market.   

 

TOMORROW: Familiarity Offstage Meets Intimacy Onstage

 

Youngblood’s Red Light Winter opens Thursday. It runs through February 6th at the Alchemist Theatre

 

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