Alexander Strain is a member of the talented cast of Round House Theatre’s production of David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross which has its press opening tonight.
Joel: Who do you play in the show and why did you want to play this role? How did you prepare for this role?
Alexander: I play Richard Roma. Mamet writes characters that are very immediate, they spend very little time reminiscing or thinking through their actions, so rehearsal was about learning to be less considered and more impulsive.
How do you relate to Richard Roma?
I think all of us understand competition and at times have felt we deserve more than we’re getting in life. We hopefully don’t take it to such extreme and harsh places as this group of men, but the underlying emotions are very real to all of us.
How has Director Mitchell Hébert. helped you to shape your performance? What advice and suggestions did he give you that helped you with your performance?
Mitchell isn’t afraid to point out actor habits and elements of a performance that are holding you back from reaching true potential and that is refreshing. Many directors are satisfied with their actors reaching ‘adequate’ and Mitchell continually challenges his actors to be better. You never feel like you’re sitting back on accomplishment, you’re always moving forward, and that’s unique and much appreciated.
Which character in the play is most like you?
That’s tough, I’m not really like any of these guys in full. I have elements of all of them probably, but they’re so intense and extreme, and it’s not a world I ever want to emulate.
What is it about David Mamet’s script that you enjoy the most?
His dialogue is brilliant. He’s able to express in choppy, real language, what would take another playwright pages of dialogue to express. In life we don’t speak in complete sentences, we communicate in fragments, and he taps into that without neglecting story or character. It’s remarkable.
What scene that you are not in do you enjoy watching? And what is your favorite line that someone else recites in the play?
I love the final scene between Levine (Foucheux) and Williamson (Rogers). We’ve watched Williamson take abuse from his office for the entire play and watching him establish not only his authority but his goodness is extremely satisfying. My favorite line in the play is ‘You’ve got the memory of a fly, I never liked you’ – Moss says it to Roma, and we’re never clued in to what it is Roma is forgetting, but it insinuates a long history between Roma and Moss that informs their distaste towards one another. It’s subtle and says so much in a few words.
Have you worked with any of your fellow actors before and what do you admire the most about their performances in this production?
I have only worked with Jesse Terrill and Conrad Feininger in full productions, but am thrilled to be working with this group of actors who I’ve wanted to work with for so long. Mamet is really tough as an actor, it requires a vocal and mental dexterity that most plays don’t call for, so I admire all of the performers in this play for tackling the work with such enthusiasm and commitment.
What does Glengarry Glen Ross have to say to 2013 audiences?
That little changes, that we can still be as cutthroat, harsh, and uncaring towards one another as when Mamet wrote the play. This is not an easy play to watch as there aren’t really redemptive characters, it is a slice of unbridled selfishness on display, it just happens without any deep moral qualification, and that kind of drama really asks us to consider how the entire situation could have been better. It’s easy to see the play as cynical, but I actually think it demands that we try harder to be good. Maybe Mamet doesn’t think that, but I do.
What are you doing next on the stage after this show?
I’ll be performing in Andy and the Shadows at Theater J a new play by Ari Roth.
What do you want audiences to take with them after seeing Glengarry Glen Ross?
Hopefully a feeling of having seen a truly solid production of an important American play and something to discuss and ponder long after the lights go down.
Part 1: ‘Glengarry Glen Ross’ at Round House Theatre: Meet Director Mitchell Hébert by Joel Markowitz