Jon, Guy, and Ben have one very important thing in common: their first names are made of three letters, and that is an amazing feat in and of itself. But more importantly, depending on who you talk to, they also star as Chorus members in the play The Cure at Troy. The following is an interview with the three-lettered phenoms and all the magic, at Troy.
RA: So I was able to see the play a couple of weeks ago and I found it was very different from what I was expecting. What originally drew you to work on this show?
JH: It wasn’t so much the play so much for me as it was the director. I’ve worked with her once before but she is known to be excellent and finds what’s important about a play and that speaks to all of us.
RA: And have you worked with her [Tina Landau] before?
JH: Yeah, once before in Atlanta, but this guy [Guy Adkins] has worked with her a lot.
RA: So you’re familiar with The Viewpoints she uses? I’m not quite sure what to call them, other than yoga. But you all created that?
GA: Oh the movement?
GA: Yeah, pretty much with Tina’s guidance we do this sort of Viewpoint technique of hers that she developed… and it’s like a movement vocabulary. And the three of us worked extensively with her on that and once we sort of had the vocabulary down she would just sort of send us off into a room and we’d make stuff up, movement-wise, based on gesture work, based on you know what we thought maybe Greek warriors posed like, or what--she said make up a couple of pieces of movement that you think have to do with this play.
Ben Gonio, Guy Adkins and Jon Hill are the Chorus in The Cure at Troy at Seattle Rep, seen here looking very serious. Photo by Chris Bennion.
RA: So to me this movement looks like yoga, how do you see it working with The Cure at Troy and what do you hope it says to the audience?
GA: The movement?
RA: Yeah, the movement.
GA: Well I don’t know what I hope it says to the audience, but I know what it means to me.
BG: The hope, well, a lot of this is really is really, well in simplest terms, trying to find a symbolic way of expressing the poetry.
GA: And to use the chorus you know… they sort of provide an accessibility to the language, I think, for the audience through song and movement and that was always sort of the Greek chorus’ job and so that's Tina’s idea of how we use movement and music.
BG: We’re like the portal or the guide, we’re like the middle-way…so here is the audience and here is the chorus and this is the action. So we set this thing up and we narrate what’s happening and then we become part of the play and then pull out of it. So that it’s a way of getting the audience involved in the story.
RA: I noticed that Philoctetes did quite a bit of spitting on stage, and I know that’s probably pretty widespread in the theatre world but how do you get used to that?
BG: Did he?
RA: Yeah! Like that for me would be hard to work with. Like if you were working a regular office job and your co-workers kept spitting on you, that’s tough.
BG: I think he, Boris, and that you know, these guys would agree with me, he is really just in touch with the vowels and that’s a lot of it, you know. Just really trying to get the words out, physicalizing those words, and it’s the nature of the role too. You know, I think, here is this guy who is practically part of the earth… and well what do you guys think?
JH: Yeah I can’t help it sometimes…you have to get the words all the way to the back of the house to make it clear and not just make it sound like vowels.
RA: Was there ever a time, like when you first started acting, when you were like, “Oh man I just spit!”?
GA: I wasn’t aware of it, I mean I’m not aware of when I’m doing as much as I am when I’m in the audience. I remember my favorite actor that I used to see a lot-especially doing Shakespeare-and he was a serious spitter. I remember thinking, “Now that’s excessive”. But when you’re doing language plays you’re aware of words, like poetry, like Shakespeare, or this-- it’s really hard to make it accessible for the audience
JH: it’s not as prevalent in smaller houses or more naturalistic contemporary plays. I remember the first time, when I was in college, the first play I saw had a spitter, and I hadn’t seen much professional theatre and I remember wanting to be like that guy. And I was like someday, I’m gonna be a spitter.
RA: The set is made up with real mud and rocks; did you ever find yourself nervous as the other actors tossed the rocks around the stage?
GA: Well the rocks are all tied or bolted down except for a couple that Boris plays with and one that Seth picks up. I’m more concerned about stumbling on rocks or falling through the crevices or falling off the back of the set. Those are the only things that concern me.
RA: Yeah because in the beginning you guys just have flashlights.
GA: Yeah I mean, I think it’s pretty treacherous but I’m--we’re getting sort used to it, where the rocks are and the set itself. For me, you know how there are those two stairs in front of the black part?
GA: In between that is this drop to the floor and that, that freaks me out.
BG: One of our cast members was walking out and almost fell. So it’s a tricky set.
RA: In the beginning of the play you guys are sitting on stools. Is that something you do for every show? What is it you are doing there? Are you reading something from the script?
GA: Yeah, there is stuff in the books.
JH: We can’t tell, it’s out secret.
GA: We shouldn’t tell you what we’re reading. But Tina, our director, puts some things in there, and they’re hidden…and sometimes I’ll find something that I didn’t know was there.
BG: And some of it is very moving, some poetry and such.
RA: Are there any jokes in there?
JH: No, but there are some mysteries that are kind of like jokes.
RA: What drew you to becoming an actor, specifically in theatre?
JH: I wrote a play that my elementary school produced…and I don’t know--watching the actors inspired me…and there is just something about live theatre where anything can happen kind of, and people getting together to believe in something and it’s just really really great. That’s why I got into it.
RA: You must have to do a lot of traveling, is that hard on your social lives?
JH: I am living in New York right now, I, right now where I’m at in my life…I love going to a new city and learning about people…it’s like an adventure. Right now, I just love it.
RA: Were you all theatre geeks in high school?
JH: Yeah I was an every kind of geek.
GA: I was too. Music...I was always involved in music but I never thought I could do it professionally until I was in high school and I had a teacher tell me that I should and that really opened my eyes.
Jon, Guy, and Ben, again, here looking slightly less serious.
JH: Same thing happened, where I had an instructor who believed in me. Tell your teachers that!
RA: And lastly, could you each give me a reason why people should go and see The Cure at Troy?
BG: There are some cool people in it.
GA: Some bald sexy men, taking their shirts off. I think it’s innovative and I think it’s unlike anything you’re ever seen before and it’s not safe—I don’t mean unsafe, I just don’t think its safe theatre.
RA: It’s dangerous!
GA: I mean it could be a danger to my life.
RA: Yeah watch out for those rocks.
JH: I think it deals with one of the most important things in our society, which is compassion.
April 18th, 2008
The Cure at Troy
Seattle Repertory Theatre
Through May 3rd
Seattle Rep’s Ticket Office: 206-443-2222
Ticket Office Hours: Daily, noon – performance time
Seattle Rep is located at 155 Mercer Street, on the North edge of Seattle Center. It is served by buses 1,2,3,4,13,15,16,18,45, 74 and 85. For bus times: