This month will feature the Theater Pub debut of three well-known Bay Area actors: Linda-Ruth Cardozo, Tony Cirimele and Vince Rodriguez, playing the three supporting parts in our production of Measure For Measure. Proving there are no small parts, only small actors, Linda-Ruth, Tony and Vince talk about what it’s like to step into their first Pub roles and breath life into these small but essential character roles.
So this is your first Theater Pub, right? What’s got you excited about joining the ranks of Theater Pub’s ever expanding ensemble?
Linda-Ruth: I’m excited about the community atmosphere coupled with professional level performers. And the nice folks. I feel very welcome.
Vince: Not only is Theater Pub a group that produces work for artists who have an insatiable thirst for cool and relevant projects, but the demographic they reach out to is sexy, young and willing to re-envision classics in a modern way. It’s exciting to be a part of that.
Tony: The most exciting part about joining Theater Pub is that they asked me. No nerve-racking audition, no tension-filled callback, just an email saying, “Tony, we like your style. Bring some of that over to our motley crew of drunken theater-goers.” Also, the opportunity to wear RenFest clothes in public appealed to me greatly.
The annual Shakespeare production is becoming a tradition, basically because we will now have done it twice. What do you think is the bee’s knees about doing Shakespeare in a bar?
Tony: First off, unlike this question, Shakespeare has no unnecessary ’20s jargon. Secondly, Shakespeare in a bar is great because it takes his work back to its roots. Shakespeare was first performed for groundlings, people who were dirt-poor, weren’t paying attention to the show, and would often yell things at the performers, much like your modern day alcoholic theater patron. Shakespeare is not just for the scholars, it’s for the people who can’t afford War Horse tickets.
Vince: It’s funny you bring up “groundlings” because I like to think of the audience as “grinders”: people who take the time to do their work AND appreciate the finer things in life, like exploring the depths of the human soul. Although the majority of people are content dealing with the nine-to-five stress, I think we give people who want it the chance escape the myopic and mundane.
Linda-Ruth: And when the text is edited effectively, as it is done here, the kernel and bloom (am I mixing metaphors?) of the story become accessible to a modern audience and then the actors make it fun by playing amidst the audience in a comfortable, informal place, so all the pretentious element is stripped away and the potential for genuine enjoyment increases.
Anything got you worried? Is this your first time doing a show like this?
Tony: This is definitely my first time doing a show where the audience is encouraged to drink excessively.
Linda-Ruth: I’ve done dinner theatre before, so I’m okay with it.
So who do you play in Measure for Measure, and what do you like about the part?
Vince: I play Claudio, a character who has sex with a girl he fully intends to marry and gets thrown in jail for it. Kind of wack right? Some say “test the bicycle to make sure it works for you” but back in the day this wasn’t exactly kosher with the law. I’m excited about this role because he’s like any twenty-something trying to do well and then something bad happens. We’ve all been there: desperate for success and trying to make things work but the world is working against us.
Linda-Ruth: I play Mistress Overdone, the bawd. I like that she can be feisty, sexy and funny. We’ll see how I do.
Tony: I play the Provost, who runs the local prison. Provost, by the way, is his occupation, not his name. It’s like having a character named “Officer” or “Warden”. It’s a little demeaning that he is defined by his job and not by who he really is, but such is the laziness that is the Bard. My favorite part about playing the Provost is that he is the only normal character in the show. Everyone else is working in the heightened reality that is a Shakespearean comedy, but the Provost is a just an average guy trying to do his job and get through the day.
Measure for Measure is an unusual choice for any theater venue. Why do you think this play is a challenge, good or bad, for any theater company?
Linda-Ruth: Measure for Measure is a challenge because I think we don’t know what to think of it. The characters are not clear cut bad or good. The Duke is good, but a little perverse. Angelo is a hypocrite, but still sympathetic. Isabella’s attachment to her virtue at the price of her brother’s life seems ridiculous. This, I guess, is why it’s called a “problem play.”
Tony: I think what throws people is that Measure for Measure is a comedy that deals with dramatic events. Really dramatic. There are executions, broken engagements and bastard children involved, not really “ha-ha” funny. Most productions tend to toss away the comedy in favor of the more dramatic moments, or they just don’t get the jokes (It’s 400 years old, they can’t all hold up.) What we’ve done with this production is really play up the comedy while still respecting the more serious subject matter. After all, the best comedies are the ones with the occasional dramatic moment. We’re also throwing in just a little bit of audience participation. Not too much, but just enough to keep things light.
What do you hope the audience will get from Measure?
Vince: For me, this show is about power, and as the audience sips their drinks and embarks on this journey with us I hope they think about who they relate to and why. Often we find ourselves walking past someone near a BART or Muni exit and think, “Never will I find myself like this” or worse saying something out loud to the effect of: “No I can’t help you today”. Theater allows for one to take themselves out of their set of problems and worries for an hour and a half and feel for people who aren’t related to them. This is empathy y’all! If we were all slightly more empathic imagine how much more pleasant our human-to-human interactions would be. Isn’t that legit? I’m going to answer for all of us and emphatically say “YES.”
Linda-Ruth: I just hope they’ll laugh.
Tony: I would love to see our audience get a newfound appreciation for the play. It’s one people tend to gloss over when discussing Shakespeare and I hope people will walk away from this and say, “Oh Measure for Measure? Great play. I saw Theater Pub do it and it was fantastic.
What’s your favorite beer?
Tony: Finally, something I can answer. A nice cool reasonably priced Guinness in the tallest glass you can find. I did a play a few years back that was set in Ireland, and I got pretty much all the free Guinness I could hope for. Now they got me hooked on the stuff. It’s great tasting, plus you get that great nod of approval from your fellow bar patrons when you order it. A silent nod that says “You drink Guinness, I like that in a man. You’re hired.”
Vince: My favorite beer is Imperial. It’s a Costa Rican pilsner. As a Costa Rican I have to represent properly. If you haven’t tried it-add it to your list! You can buy it at BevMo!
Linda-Ruth: I hate beer.
Do you know the bar is trying to get a liquor license?
Vince: Say whaaaat? I think that’s super sweet.
Tony: Mazel Tov!
If it happens, what’s the first cocktail you plan to order at Theater Pub?
Linda-Ruth: Scotch and soda.
Vince: I’d have to go with a Makers Mark and Coke. I like my Whiskey.
Tony: Anything you have to set on fire to drink.
Don’t miss Theater Pub’s Measure for Measure, playing four nights at the Cafe Royale (August 14, 20, 21, 27) and one night at the Plough And Stars (August 22), always at 8 PM, always for free.