Randy Harrison Interview: Ibsen's Ghosts at Berkshire Theatre Festival
The Actor Talks About Renewing a Classic
Posted by Larry Murray on; August 5,2009.

Randy Harrison outside the rehearsal studio. Larry Murray photo.

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To explore what was going on, we headed down to Stockbridge to talk again (2008 Interview) with actor Randy Harrison (see bio below). The rehearsal studios at BTF are very simple, even primitive. They are nestled into a wooded lot that also contains the "camp" kitchen where the actors and apprentices eat their simple meals. The sun was out at last, and with it at his back, through the battered old screen door came Harrison, making a beeline for the tape recorder and me. He was all smiles, and we chatted amiably before settling into what would be a serious discussion.

The Berkshire Theatre Festival has slowly become his regular summer home. The Festival is an artistic and spiritual resource where he retreats to try new things and challenge himself. "It is all of those things to me, plus I get a lot of new opportunities here," he said happily.

Opportunities like playing the son Oswald in Ghosts for the first time. In the play his mother, Mrs. Alving (Dillon), is keeping secrets from him, worsened by horrible advice from a puritanical preacher, Manders (Adkins), and complicated by an infatuation with the maid Regina (Franklin) and her devious father, Engstrand (Epstein). Into this household returns the more worldly Oswald, who is mortally ill. The character is a contradiction, someone who is full of life but facing a death sentence. I wondered just how Harrison was playing the son, as someone with vitality, or as a gloomy Gus.

"That's one of the interesting aspects," Harrison answers, "Oswald talks so much about the joy of life, and that's reflected in his painting. But it is this same vitality that is so much a part of him that killed his father. His dad was not able to express himself like that." In the play it is clear that Mr. Alving was a frustrated man who simply had no outlet to express his own joie de vivre in that repressive society.

"His mother says that for all his life his father was stuck in this gloomy town, one completely devoid of real passion and that there was nothing but business and social status." Back then it was all a matter of simply keeping up appearances, of conforming to the rigid strictures of the Victorian era. "Yes, and so the father self-destructed." But because Oswald had his painting, "He was also able to have a great deal of vitality and life."

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@темы: 2009, Ghosts, theatre