Ashley Wood will be starring as Bernard in WaterTower Theatre’s upcoming play, Boeing-Boeing.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN IN ACTING? HOW DID YOU GET STARTED?
The first professional production I acted in was The Adventures of Oliver Twist with the Dallas Children’s Theatre in the summer of 1992. I played the Artful Dodger with what I’m sure was a severely butchered Cockney accent (I was 19, and I had grown up in West Texas). Three years later I got my Equity card when I did All in the Timing at Theatre Three.
I got interested in theatre in high school – I played Biff in Death of a Salesman (well, a 40-minute version of it for the UIL One-Act Competition), and I was hooked.
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE YOU FACE WHEN PREPARING FOR AND ULTIMATELY PLAYING A ROLE?
The practical challenges of preparation vary with each production, absolutely. Sometimes the biggest challenge is finding the common ground between myself and the character. Sometimes it’s the line load. Sometimes it’s finding the rhythm of the speech. Sometimes it’s finding – and maintaining – the right physicality. But, of course, each of these challenges is always there to some degree. In performance, I suppose the toughest thing is walking the tightrope between knowing what’s coming next – or what’s supposed to come next (it is live theatre, after all – and, truly, anything can happen) – and being unencumbered just enough by that knowledge to live in the moment. It’s a really odd mixture of things that goes through your head when you’re out there… “It’s warmer in here than it was last night….Dang it, I just juxtaposed those words and it totally changed the rhythm and weakened the line…I wonder if so-and-so forgot that prop again tonight…I just got spit on…Wow that’s the strongest reaction the audience has ever had to that moment…I shoulda gone to the bathroom before this…I just spit on somebody…Ok, gotta count here…I didn’t know Lawson was coming…Man, so-and-so’s on really on fire tonight…Hmmm, that light cue was a little early….A CELL PHONE? REALLY? IT WAS IN THE CURTAIN SPEECH, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!” Meanwhile, what’s coming out of your mouth could very well be something like: “O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I.” And, unless you really are doing “O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I,” there are other human beings onstage who need you – not just to say your lines and put your body where it’s supposed to be, but to be alive with them. It’s quite a trip.
WHAT IS MOST REWARDING ABOUT BEING AN ACTOR?
There are lots of rewards – one of the biggest being that there are other human beings onstage with whom you get to be alive. We get to be like little kids and tell these stories together. And, because we have a live audience, the feedback is instantaneous – whether it’s positive, negative, or anywhere in between. Also, there’s always something new to experience, something new to learn. Even though most of us in Boeing-Boeing have already done the show, it can’t help but be new and different this time around. If we’re doing our job “correctly,” it’ll be new every night.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVORITE PART ABOUT WORKING WITH WATERTOWER THEATRE?
Well, so far I’ve only done Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, back in 2007. I like the fact that it’s a large performance space, yet it still feels intimate. And the audiences are genuinely interested and responsive.
-By Addison Magazine