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Artistic Conversations

Interview with Dominic Green, Director of PPTC's production of ART.

Jennifer McHugh, Artistic Director for Parker Players Theater Company, recently sat with Dom Green, Director of PPTC's upcoming production of ART. The following is excerpts from their conversation. Enjoy!

McHugh: I bet many people in Barrington are not aware that you were an equity actor in both London and Chicago.

Green: That's right! I arrived late to the theatre. After spending 5 years sailing and backpacking around the world, I returned to London aged 24 and enrolled in a small Drama School in 1997. I graduated in 1999 and spent the next 3 years working in the UK, with companies including the West Yorkshire Playhouse, Bristol Old Vic, English Shakespeare Company, and The Globe. I moved to Chicago in 2003, and performed at The Court Theatre, Victory Gardens, Steppenwolf Garage, and First Folio among others…

McHugh: You've worked with a lot of theater companies! Do you have a favorite role that you played as an actor?

Green: That’s a tricky one. The answer should probably be ‘Bassanio’ in a production of ‘The Merchant of Venice’ with Italian company ‘Kiklos Teatro’ in Padua (just outside Venice itself)… But ‘favorite’..? If I’m being truly honest, it would have to be Albert the Horse in ‘The Wind In The Willows’, which I actually played twice for two different companies. Barrels of fun!

McHugh: So...England, 'the world!', London, Chicago and then...Barrington. What brought you here?

Green:  My wife Jessica is from Barrington. After living together in Chicago for 10 years and starting a family, we decided to move to her hometown in 2014…

McHugh: Share how you became aware of our local theater company...

Green: I’d been aware of the company for a few years, but had not seen any productions. I also knew they were looking for a new permanent home, and had heard rumors they were exploring opportunities at The Catlow. When I was invited to meet you & Dan (McHugh--PPTC Board President) at an alternate potential space (their new location at ‘The Barrington’), I decided to go along…

McHugh: And that was when I met you for the first time. I was excited to learn about your background and decided to ask you to come and direct a future production for us. What prompted you to say 'YES'?

Green: Well, I was hugely impressed and excited by you and Dan and the rest of the PPTC team--the vision for the company, and the opportunity being presented with the new space. After offering to support Parker Players as best I could in this new chapter, conversation inevitably led to the creative side. I was honored to be asked if I would consider directing a play for them, and the answer was an easy ‘yes’.

McHugh: How do you view the role of local theater in a community, and specifically, how do you think PPTC can contribute to Barrington and the surrounding communities?

Green: Exposure to the arts in any form is essential to any community that wants to exist beyond the purely functional, or mundane. Whether it’s music, painting, sculpture, or the performing arts, it reveals to us things we might not otherwise see. The city of Chicago is internationally renowned for its robust theatre, but many of the best theaters are located in the suburbs - Northlight in Skokie, Writers in Glencoe, Court in Hyde Park - all nationally recognized. There’s no reason why Barrington can not - should not - host its own professional theatre, which would grow to become a resource, contributor and artistic hub for our communities.

McHugh: Why did you choose the play ART to direct for PPTC?

Green: I’m very familiar with the play from my time in London, and have seen a few different productions, including one at Steppenwolf in Chicago in 2009. Aside from the exploration of multiple themes, I’ve always been attracted to its simplicity - a cast of three, a minimalist set, 1 ½ hour duration with no intermission. There’s no ‘hiding’ from the drama in the script…

McHugh: The characters in ART are written for men. But you chose to switch genders, and cast women in these roles. Why?

Green: I was not even half way through my ‘rereading’ of the script when I had the idea of casting women instead of men (as written). There is no question that the particular nature of platonic male relationships was an important original theme, but I realized the relevance of some of the broader themes might be worth exploring with a female cast. It took some persuading, but we did a ‘test read-through’ with female actors, and we were all convinced it would work.

McHugh: Ha! Yes, I did need some persuading. I needed to hear the play read by women before I truly understood that yes, this could not only work, but be really great. What is the most challenging and the most rewarding parts thus far in directing ART?

Green: As my directorial debut, it’s ’being on the other side…’. I’m clear on how I want to explore this play with the actors, and I have to keep reminding myself to allow them the space they need. Most rewarding is the chance to create. It has been a while since I last indulged my ‘artistic urges’, and it feels good to be creative again.

McHugh: Last question--what do you want to convey to audiences as they watch your production of ART? What lingering impressions or subsequent conversations do you hope takes place between audience members post performance?

Green: There is a quote from author Krista Tippett that I hope will make it into the program - “I can disagree with your opinion, it turns out, but I can’t disagree with your experience…”. There is also a question the play poses that I don’t want to ask here, but look forward to perhaps discussing with audiences after they have seen the production. Ultimately there is nothing I hope to convey, other than fifty different experiences for fifty different audience members each night, and perhaps the chance to connect with some of them around that.

I do hope they leave inspired and moved by the opportunity that presents itself - that of exciting, quality theatre right here in our very own Barrington…

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