Meet the Cast of ‘The Second Shepherds’ Play’ at Folger Theatre Part 1: Ryan Sellers

In part 1 of a series of interviews with the cast of Folger Theatre’s The Second Shepherds’ Play, meet Ryan Sellers.

Sophia: Please introduce yourself to our readers. Where have we seen you recently on local stages? Tell us about your experience.

Ryan Sellers. Photo courtesy of The Folger Theatre.

Ryan: I am a locally born and bred artist, having been born in Arlington, Virginia and having attended undergrad at The Catholic University of America (CUA). I’ve been a local area performer for roughly 10 years, but most recently I have been seen as Aramis in Synetic Theater’s The Man in the Iron Mask, Antonio in PG County’s local tour of Twelfth Night or What You Will, an ensemble member in Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Romeo and Juliet, and I’m currently on stage with the Folger Theatre as Mak in The Second Shepherds’ Play, as well as having my play, Adventures with Mr. Bear, a show I wrote and directed, in the middle of a run with Arts on the Horizon.

What have you learned about yourself as an actor, singer, dancer, and storyteller from appearing in The Second Shepherds’ Play at Folger?

It has reinforced the lessons I seem to learn in every production: to trust myself and believe that my choices are valid and my work is good and to know that the creative team and cast are going to walk me to a place where the story will be clear and strong. It has also taught me to keep my ears and mind open to learning and taking new approaches. While I need to trust myself, I need to push myself at the same time, and do my best to get my ego and my insecurities out of the way of good theatre.

If you could be granted one wish on Christmas day, what would it be?

I would wish for a feature movie role opposite Gary Oldman and James Spader…as a Marvel superhero. James, Gary, if you read this, I’m available.

You are a Senior Company Member at Synetic Theater. Do you have a favorite role you’ve played with Synetic?

I can think of two immediately. Tybalt, who is perhaps my favorite character in all of theater, and was my first professional role. Paata trusted it to me as a Senior at CUA, and it was a dream come true, and continues to be every time I get another chance to play him. Then there’s Petruchio. This was my first opportunity to shoulder the load of a show as a professional actor, and I was extremely grateful for the opportunity. The character is simply a riot to get to live on stage and I was surrounded by an amazing cast of actors who allowed me to find and make a new reality every night. And I’ll be doing it again this coming spring!

Tonya Beckman and Ryan Sellers in ‘The Second Shepherds’ Play.’ Photo by James Kegley.

What do you admire about how the designers help you tell Mak’s story?

First and foremost, the awesome Mak puppet. It’s hilarious and an amazing part of the story telling. Second they gave me a canvas within the costume to paint the character as I move through the story. I don’t know if this was done on purpose, but with the jacket and hat being green and fuzzy, I always see myself as the Grinch right before I walk out for my first entrance as Mak. Also, the costume is not restrictive for movement, for which I am very grateful.

What would you like the audience to take away from The Second Shepherd’s Play?

A smile. The election tore us apart, regardless of your affiliation. This text is rich and dense, light yet poignant in content, and is delightfully scored by an amazing trio of musicians. It’s just enough to remind you that when things get tough, we are going to be okay, and that it’s okay to smile. It’s like a Christmas cookie after a really bad day.

What are you doing next on the stage?

Next up is Taming of the Shrew at Synetic Theater, followed by Arabian Nights at Constellation Theatre Company.

The Second Shepherds’ Play plays through December 21, 2016, at The Folger Theatre – 201 East Capitol Street, SE, in Washington, DC. For tickets, call the box office aKS:t (202) 544-7077, or purchase them online.

‘Magic Time!’ ‘The Second Shepherds’ Play’ at The Folger Theatre by John Stoltenberg.

Review: ‘The Second Shepherds’ Play’ at The Folger Theatre by David Siegel.

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Sophia Howes
Sophia Howes has been a reviewer for DCTA since 2013 and a columnist since 2015. She has an extensive background in theater. Her play Southern Girl was performed at the Public Theater-NY, and two of her plays, Rosetta’s Eyes and Solace in Gondal, were produced at the Playwrights’ Horizons Studio Theatre. She studied with Curt Dempster at the Ensemble Studio Theatre, where her play Madonna was given a staged reading at the Octoberfest. Her one-acts Better Dresses and The Endless Sky, among others, were produced as part of Director Robert Moss’s Workshop-NY. She has directed The Tempest, at the Hazel Ruby McQuain Amphitheatre, and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at the Monongalia Arts Center, both in Morgantown, WV. She studied Classics and English at Barnard and received her BFA with honors in Drama from Tisch School of the Arts, NYU, where she received the Seidman Award for playwriting. Her play Adamov was produced at the Harold Clurman Theater on Theater Row-NY. She holds an MFA from Tisch School of the Arts, NYU, where she received the Lucille Lortel Award for playwriting. She studied with, among others, Michael Feingold, Len Jenkin, Lynne Alvarez, and Tina Howe.


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