Thursday, Jan. 21, 2010

A Few Words With Andrew Edwin Voss pt. 2

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. Here are a couple of excerpts from the transcripts:

Graduating and Choosing Your Own Material

Me: you’ve said you’ve had some rehearsals of Red Light Winter already. Was that with the blocking and everything?

Andrew Voss: Yeah. We’ve kind of loosely sketch blocking. And then as our comfort level with the text got better, we added some physical aspects. We’re now at the point where we’re running the first act tomorrow. And that’s not the act that I have the sexual encounter in. We’ve set a date for when we’re going to disrobe. That’s the 12th. It’s an interesting thing There’s rules and embarrassment and etiquette.

Me: I would imagine there’s a difference between a resident acting company that’s been working together for some time and a group of actors who have studied together in college. I would imagine there’s a level of intimacy there.

Andrew Voss:
There’s a level of friendship and trust. I’m so able to trust these two actors from having worked with them before. And actually, David Rothrock [who plays Matt] is my roommate.

Me: Oh, really?

Andrew Voss:
So obviously we already have the friendship. And Theresa [Tess Cinpinski who plays the woman] and I have known each other for about 4 years. And two of that was in this intensive acting conservatory style 12 hours a day together if you add rehearsals in . . . so it’s fun that we’re all in the same place and we’re all growing and now that I’ve already graduated. Theresa’s already graduated. Dave will be graduating, we sort of get to pick our shows now. And we were all in on the decisions. Theresa and I were a big part of the decision to do the play. So we kind of knew what we were getting into when we chose the play. [The show’s director] Ben Wilson gave it to me, I read it and I said, “we have to do this.” And then all five of us read it and said, “wow, we have to do this play.” So that’s how we knew. This is a must-do project for us.

The Set Design and Intimacy

Towards the end of our conversation, Voss was walking around on the small empty stage of the Alchemist, which at that stage was still half dressed with the set for Alchemist’s RUDOLPH. It walked to him from the third row back as he walked around the stage with an eye towards the way things would look for the production.

Andrew Voss:
Evan, our designer designed Godbridge. He’s brilliant. He doesn’t like symmetry.

Me: The sign of a true genius.

[laughter]

Me: Because it’s one thing to do a piece as intimate as Red Light Winter at a studio theatre space like this [the comfortable small space of The Alchemist] but it’d be another to do it in a much more tiny space like even UWM’s studio theatre or [the very cozy space] of the Boulevard up the street.

Andrew Voss: Yeah.

Me: So I would imagine that you’re going to be trying to draw-in the audience with the way you have things blocked.

Andrew Voss: Yeah. The audience IS in the room. And that’s something we all agreed upon. They are here to see something very, very, very candid. So [the set] will be angled this way [towards the audience] and I think we’re going to be using that door [pointing to a door towards the back of the stage] unless he’s building another one as the door for the hallway in the second act . . . but it’s going to fit great in here. And you’re right—this [the front row] is so close. They’re going to be right in our laps.

Me: Yeah. I remember seeing a contemporary comedy at the Boulevard where there were a couple of characters in bed together, but full on nudity even in a slightly larger space . . . . and simulated sex . . . and simulated rape . . .

Andrew Voss:
and simulated sex . . . and simulated rape . . .

Me: on this stage.

Andrew Voss: Right. I hope [playwright] Adam Rapp comes to see it. We will invite him. He’s from Chicago. So we told him if you’re home, you should come and see the show.

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

TOMORROW: A complete review of the show.

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