Getting Along With Darrow
David Ferrie pt. 3
Local actor David Ferrie has a very smart stage presence. In Boulevard Theatreâ€™s Clarence Darrow. I talked with him at the Boulevard Theatre a few weeks ago prior to a rehearsal.
In the final part of the interview, Ferrie and I discuss the nature of playing a character over decades of his lifespan and more . . . production of the two person drama Roses In December last year, his performance as an author who reluctantly exchanges letters with a young woman sparkled with intelligence. This week he takes the same stage in a ONE-person drama as he stars as the title character in David Rintelsâ€™
Me: Youâ€™re playing this character over a huge span of his life. Is there not a tendency to want to over-exaggerate?
David Ferrie: There is. Mark [Bucher] directed that out of me. Although any actor wants to put a little bit in. My first duty is to portray the fire in the belly. If I can . . . again, itâ€™s the imitation thing. If I imitate a little bit too much, then it distracts from what the essence of the play is trying to tell you. If I happen to look a bit older later on. If I happen to . . . if my speech slows or my voice sounds a little more . . . thatâ€™ll be great. But itâ€™s not the primary focus of what Iâ€™m doing.
Me: So it sounds like youâ€™re starting out aggressive and ending hopeful. Or is that oversimplifying?
David Ferrie: It IS oversimplifying. I think he is hopeful all the way through.
David Ferrie: THEREâ€™S the dichotomy. Is that a man who has . . . heâ€™s not cynical, but he does not swallow what other people . . . other peopleâ€™s theories.
David Ferrie: Skeptic. Heâ€™s a skeptic. He doubts. Heâ€™s skeptical . . . on the other end of this spectrum . . .there really is a practicality . . . is this vision of humanity that is much higher than anything that weâ€™ve . . . been able to achieve. And where does THAT come from? Because here has not been any evidence . . . to show that society is capable. And by the time he dies, there was still segregation in the south . . . ALL of that stuff. There was no reason to believe from a skepticâ€™s point of view that we are capable of this . . .and yet we HAVE improved. And he was right. I donâ€™t know where.
Me: Itâ€™s interesting, because I think there are historians who could go into intimate detail about his life. Itâ€™s one thing to be familiar with this historical character on that level, but . . .youâ€™re going to have to eventually present yourself onstage as him. You have a completely different relationship with this guy.
David Ferrie: This is theatre. This is not a book. Iâ€™m not . . . giv[ing] a book report. This is theatre. This is an experience.
Me: So the question is: how are you getting along with the character?
David Ferrie: Uhm . . . Iâ€™m getting along with him pretty well. I am . . . Iâ€™m getting along with him good. Iâ€™m in this part of the rehearsal process, I have not found that part of me that is most comfortable with him.
David Ferrie: If you think of it as a dance, heâ€™s not . . .Iâ€™m not following . . . my toes are getting stepped on every once in a while because Iâ€™m not solid yet with . . . how . . . how comfortable he was with himself.
Me: So itâ€™s a professional relationship with this guy right now. You havenâ€™t gone out for a beer with him yet.
David Ferrie: Yes. Very good. Itâ€™s a professional relationship. There are moments in this rehearsal where . . .Iâ€™m there. Where he has passion . . .thatâ€™s easy for me. His closing arguments? I think every single one of them Iâ€™m there . . . Iâ€™m clicking. Some of the jocular banter and stuff . . . yeah, Iâ€™ve gotta relax into that. Iâ€™ve gotta go out for a beer with him. Exactly. But itâ€™s coming along.
And itâ€™s been a couple of weeks since the interview. Thereâ€™s little doubt that Ferrie ha nailed-down the vague personal moments of the character as the show formally opens at the Boulevard tonight.
Boulevard Theatreâ€™s Clarence Darrow runs through November 1st.