Meet the Bloggers: Alexander Strain

I first met Alexander when working on Tony Kushner’s A Bright Room Called Day at Rorschach Theater. As he mentions below, that show was also his first time meeting Ari and becoming acquainted with Theater J.  In working with Alexander I found a true friend and compatriot in theater.  I wasn’t the only one to notice Alexander’s skills and passions. In the past few years he has become a regular face on DC stages and even made his directorial debut earlier this year. Theater J is thrilled that he has decided to join us in the next year for three productions: Honey Brown Eyes, The Rise and Fall of Annie Hall and The Seagull on 16th Street. In addition to his presence on stage Alexander will  be  our Artistic Associate-in-Residence, helping out on discussions and writing for the Theater J Blog.

Tell Us a Little Bit About Yourself:
Where did you grow up? How did you first get involved in theater?

I was born in Peterborough, England. I moved with my parents to the US in 1993, to Reston, Virginia. I attended middle school and high school in the suburbs of Washington DC and moved to New York City for university.

The first performance I remember being involved in was a production of ‘Robin Hood’. I must have been about 9 or 10 years old and I played the Sheriff of Nottingham. I don’t recall much about the performance other than that I called people ‘scum’ a lot and it still stands as my grandmother’s favorite performance.
 
Tell Us a Little About Us:
What was the first show you saw at Theater J? What have you worked on with Theater J? What do you think is unique about Theater J’s audience?

My introduction to working with Theater J was in the form of being a participant in one of the many public readings throughout the year. I forget exactly what the play was (are you noticing a consistent lack of memory?) but for the sake of the story let’s say it was ‘The Odd Couple’. Neil Simon’s Jewish.

I met Ari Roth when working on Rorschach Theatre’s ‘A Bright Room Called Day’ which we performed for some of his students in the lobby of the JCC (otherwise known as The Echo Chamber)

My first full show with Theater J was ‘Pangs of the Messiah’. This was a unique experience in terms of the Theater J audience (although it may have been a unique experience in general) because it inspired deeply involved and passionate post-show discussions. We seemingly inspired empathizers and infuriated others, but most were willing to stay after the show and engage in dialogue rather than make snap judgments and leave the work purely in the theatre. This kind of engagement with the work removes it from the realm of ephemera and lets performers know that we might actually be doing something worthwhile. Most of don’t just want to be entertainers, we hope to inspire and move people to think and change.
 
Random Stuff:
Favorite Jewish playwright (or play)? Show you are most excited about next year?

As far as Jewish playwrights go, I really like Itamar Moses. I loved ‘Bach at Leipzig’ and ‘The Four of Us’ (got the chance to perform in the first with Rep Stage last year, it was absurdly fun). I haven’t read ‘Bent’ by Martin Sherman in a long while, but I remember really liking that play. Wallace Shawn is pretty terrific and I can’t decide whether I’m a fan of Wendy Wasserstein.

Next year I’m excited about all of the productions I’m involved in for different reasons. The common thread I see running through them and the current plays I’m working on is ‘identity’ (more about that soon). Each of the roles I’m taking on are so different and so uniquely challenging. I’m glad to be working with the people involved in the shows, some I’ve worked with before and others who will be a completely new experience.

One thought on “Meet the Bloggers: Alexander Strain

  1. Really, really glad to read both these posts — Thank you, Hannah, for everything, really — and thank you, Alexander, for this first missive touching, most interestingly, on the subject of identity, which really is the touchstone issue of this first of our century, don’tchya think? That and a few other huge issues like the environment, American decline and its possible resurgence, Zionism and religious fundamentalism… Hmm… Alexander in the cross-hairs of everything that’s interesting. Hannah studying the history of drama and play analysis and coming away from it all even smarter, sharper and better read than before… A frightening (pleasurable) thought.

    Can’t wait to read the profiles and chit-chats of Becky and Shirley… And let’s not forget Tara Brady, as well, who took over from Simone Zvi as our Director of Patrons Services back in May. Anyway, out here in the outback of Spain with a fragile internet connection, it’s really a kick to read of new theater talent coming our way to give us a new infusion and a new viewpoint. And to be sending Sister Hannah out into the wilds of New York and its vast avenues of ambition knowing that she’ll be drinking up so much of what that experience has to offer. The world spins only forward, to quote a most quotable playscribe.
    Peace from Javea….
    -ari

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