Friday, August 24, 2012

Interview with Erik Harrison from LTA's Funny Money



What do you find appealing about your character and this show?

Henry is a man who has been moderately successful at a career he likes but doesn't love, with a pretty house and a pretty wife, and not a lot else. I've been in that sort of place myself. Funny Money is a little bit like wish fulfillment for me - what would happen if you were given the chance to completely change your life?

What have you learned about yourself in playing the role of “Henry”?

You mean, what have I learned other than how bloody bad I am at memorizing lines?

I think Henry has been a real challenge for me as an actor, but that's all boring inside baseball stuff. What I've learned as a person is that the theatre, the chance to perform for others - that's my briefcase full of money. Henry wants out of his hum-drum daily life.
My daily life can be pretty hum-drum as well, but in the evening I get to go play make believe with other adults who never grew up. Then after a few months of play, I get to show hundreds of people what we made up, and they applaud us. That's pretty remarkable.

What do you want the audience to experience/take away from this show?

I want them to laugh so hard it hurts. I want them to feel completely spirited away from whatever their daily life is, cocooned in the glorious dark of the theatre, transported to the Perkin's living room via the magic of the stage, then I want them to laugh until they think they're going to be sick. It's like the man said "There's a lot to be said for making people laugh. Did you know that's all some people have? It isn't much, but it's better than nothing in this cockeyed caravan. Boy!"

How long have you been acting and what made you get involved in theatre?

I acted a lot as a young man, in junior high and high school - my father was an actor, so I avoided the pull of the stage a bit when I was younger, out of a sort of rebellion, but when I was 14 a school production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" proved too much to resist.

Then, when I turned 18 I promptly gave it all up in a concerted effort to Go To College and Get A Career and Get Married and Be Respectable.

How did you get involved with LTA?

About 10 years later, the whole Be Respectable thing lead to a divorce, quitting my job, and abandoning psychology, which my degree was in. I moved to Virginia just for a change. On the very first day in Virginia, a friend convinced me to audition for my first play in a decade. That was "Play It Again, Sam" at LTA. I didn't get cast, but I had more fun at the four hours of the callback than I had had in ages.
I immediately started auditioning again, and about six months later I got a role at Port City Playhouse (Farragut North, which I was immensely proud of). When an actor dropped out of LTA's production of The Visit, some people who had seen me in Farragut North invited me to sign on as a last minute replacement. I've been here ever since.

What advice would you give others who are interested in working in theatre?

Start! If you want to act, audition. If that intimidates you, take a class. If you don't want to act, volunteer. If you are afraid that there isn't a role for you, volunteer anyway. There is more work than you can imagine, and room for any number of skills and personalities, as long as you show up and try hard.

And if you still can't figure it out - ask me! I'll be at the show, won't I? Come up to me after a performance, and I guarantee I can put you in touch with someone who will put you to work...

Erik Harrison (Henry Perkins) has played several roles, but they are like his children, so rather than play favorites in this limited space, he will mention none of them. He has no actual children, nor does he have a cat, dog, girlfriend, boyfriend, wife, husband, deity, fish or other life companion to thank. Instead, he would like to profusely apologize to his cast and crew for any number of wrongs committed in the course of the show, the least of which is this bio itself. Sorry, guys. Drinks on me.



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