“Striptease,” a one-act comedy by Polish political satirist Sławomir Mrożek, and “Catastrophe,” a one-scene drama by Samuel Beckett, open Wednesday, March 2, and run through Sunday, March
6, in the Bruce Davis Theater. Produced by the Department of Theater, Film, and Media Studies (TFMS) and directed by faculty member Mark A. Rhoda, “Striptease” and “Catastrophe” tackle issues of oppression, authoritarianism, resistance, choice, and freedom in both funny and serious ways.
Playing a principal role in “Catastrophe” (the role of the Protagonist) is special guest artist Tyrone Wilson. Wilson, who was most recently seen in the world premiere of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage’s “Sweat” at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., will also be in residency at the College through March.
We recently conducted a Q&A with Wilson to learn about his SMCM experience thus far.
Q: Can you describe your role as a guest artist and resident here at St. Mary’s?
A: I think one of the things that I am most useful in doing here is bringing my experience and knowledge as a professional actor to St. Mary’s College. I think of myself as actually sharing that experience with students, and really engaging them in very lively and thoughtful discussion. And, to me, that is indeed the kind of exchange of experiences. It is interesting to me to hear the different reactions to the things that I bring up or discuss, and that provides me with a fresh perspective, in many ways, on the kind of work that I do. So, yes, it is a matter of me bringing my own experience and knowledge to students. But, I also feel as though I get as much out of it as I give.
Q: How did your residency come about?
A: Joanne Klein [TFMS faculty] was my mentor at Middlebury College, and we had a great working relationship there. I have always wanted to get together to do something again. So I contacted Joanne, and I said, ‘Hey, I’m going to have this time off, and I’m going to be on the East Coast. Wouldn’t it be great if I could come down [to St. Mary’s]?” So she got right to it and figured out a way to make that happen. It’s been really exciting creating this residency and we’re still actually in the process of adding more activities. I told Joanne, I’m going to be there, so use me in whatever way you want. I will talk to anyone and will try to attend as many activities as possible involving the students.
Q: Can you explain what your solo performance piece means to you?
A: Well, it means a lot. It’s a new piece; I’m writing it as we speak. Right now it’s really in the development stage. My hope is, by the time I finish here, to get really good, solid development work. Several faculty members have offered to help, which is wonderful. To me, that’s extremely important, even more important than the performance of the piece is how it’s developed, where it’s developed, the kind of influence you have in the development, and the environment that allows you to develop. This is a very important stage for me to be here. I’m grateful to be able to have the time and resources to develop the piece.
Q: What has been your experience working with St. Mary’s students and the TFMS Department?
A: I have been very happy about their [students’] willingness to learn and their openness to suggestions. In a way, it reminds me of the way I work at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, which I think of as functioning in a very healthy and positive way. This leads to really great artistic relationships. It manifests itself in very thorough and thoughtful ways in our production. I believe that students have their hearts in the right place when it comes to artistic development, and it’s very encouraging to see. Kudos to their advisors and professors who help guide them.
Wilson holds an M.F.A. from Yale School of Drama and a B.A. in theater from Middlebury College. Read his full bio one the TFMS department page at: www.smcm.edu/tfms/2015/12/tyrone-ty-wilson-joins-smcm/.