Thursday, March 30, 2017

MEET ERIC SVEDSEN (Who's Who in Extinction by Gabe McKinley)

Continuing our interviews with the Cast of EXTINCTION by Gabe McKinley which opens this coming Saturday, April 1st, we're thrilled to introduce you to ERIC SVEDSEN.

Here's our conversation with actor, sound designer, Eric Svedsen:
What was your first impression of Extinction when you first read it?

My first impression of EXTINCTION was that it was brutally funny.  There are some elements of the friendship between Finn and Max that seem very familiar, and not far off from those of Swingers, Sideways, etc., where the tension and dissonance of the friendship lies in the difference between one character who can coast through life more or less effortlessly, while the other, more aesthete, dorky character is underappreciated, although the audience sides with him.  However, this play goes significantly deeper in it's examination of those characters and the beliefs and attitudes that shape them and motivate the actions that transpire.  It isn't just humor, although it has plenty of that; it also strikes a chord in a dark place.

When did you first work with Barefoot Theatre Company and why do you feel Extinction speaks to the company's mission and aesthetic? 
I first worked with Barefoot Theatre Company, more or less officially, at the bareNaked Reading Series in Los Angeles last summer.  That said, Francisco Solorzano is an old friend from Lyle Kessler's Master Class, which was precisely the scene study class where Brynne Kraynak, our brilliant cast member brought EXTINCTION to Sawyer Spielberg and me, and eventually the three of us, as well as the incredibly talented Raye Levine, started working on it in.  In addition to Raye being an established Barefoot member, Barefoot certainly felt like a fit because of the actors, writers and directors who've committed to this sort of material -- the experience of finding writing that you connect with and surrounding it with people you genuinely love working with to make it happen.

Tell us a little bit about your role(s) in the production.  
My role in the production is that of Max Emerson, the dark, throbbing, soulless id of the play.  He is the embodiment of bravado masking sadness; a deeply flawed character who you would potentially kill an orphan to hang out with for just one night.  I also designed the sound.

Can you share with us the challenges and excitement of wearing more than one hat on a production?  How did you approach sound design and do you think being an actor in the production helped with your choices?  If so, how so.  
In terms of wearing multiple hats on this production, I think it made us question at many stages why we didn't simply focus on one role and delegate everything to someone else.  I think the answer was that we've all developed such a deep infatuation not just for the play, but for each other.  Something I hope to never get suckered into again.  Seriously, though, it has been incredible to be essentially sequestered together in East Hampton and to be able to live every element of this play together.  In terms of sound design, the friendship between Finn and Max is deeply rooted in a love for the music of the 90's, specifically the Pixies.  For a guy like me, you don't have to reach far to access a love for 90's indie music.  It's always been ingrained, and was a major element that drew me to this play.  Getting to design the sound was something I'd have knocked someone's teeth out to be able to do.

Are there any memorable moments you can share from rehearsal that supported your process or created an exciting challenge?
There have been many challenging moments in rehearsals, most frequently being those where Josh Gladstone, our brilliant director, has forced me to explore my upper register, most notably in scenes involving my character's incredulity regarding nudity regulations of Atlantic City strip clubs.  I believe Sawyer and Josh would attest that I've found new notes.

What would you say are some of the universal themes of the play?  What will audience take away from the evening/experience?
I believe that the universal themes of the play are the give and take that occurs in the inherent transactional nature of any friendship.  We want to believe our motives are pure, but there is almost always a need satisfied in these relationships - what happens when that need is no longer met on either or both ends? How much are you willing to give when you feel you aren't getting enough in return?  Fear of moving on, fear of staying in the same place, growing old and irrelevant, love of a shared bond and the realization that it might no longer exist, and whether or not a life full of good times equates to or is at odds with a fulfilling life, and how best we go about propagating our species.  Hopefully the audience will enjoy an abundance of belly churning laughs laced with a deeply conscious feeling of self-referential disgust for months, if not weeks, afterward.

Now more than ever, why is theater vital and the art of collaboration?
Now, more than ever, we have the ability to communicate and form ideas freely -  and it should be free from fear on all sides.  The expression of humor, satire, obscenity, the art of collaboration and theater have always been tools and weapons if employed correctly.  Let's use that shit and use it right. 


My hometown is Sunfish Lake, MN.

When did you arrive in NYC?  And where do you call home now:
I first arrived in NYC in August of 2013.  I am currently a nomad roaming the earth between Los Angeles and New York, I hope to once again call New York home permanently after the run of this play.

Favorite theater going experience.
My favorite theater going experience was an original production at Northwestern University's Shanley Pavilion called Guru: The Allen Ginsberg Project by Andy Fife.

Eric Svendsen studied theatre at Northwestern University. He's been involved with productions at Rogue Machine Theater Company in Los Angeles and Naked Angels in New York. His Credits include starring roles in Auto Parts in Los Angeles as well as A Child's Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas at the Actor's Chapel and the award-winning original performance of Sailorboy by Neville Elder.

Guild Hall and Where Are They Going Theatre Group
in association with Barefoot Theatre Company
present EXTINCTION by Gabe McKinley

March 30 through April 16
Wednesdays – Sundays at 7pm
PLUS 2pm matinees on April 8 and April 15

Directed by Josh Gladstone
Starring Brynne Kraynak, Raye Levine, Sawyer Spielberg
and Eric Svendsen

Two college buddies’ annual outing of male-bonding and debauchery veers precipitously off course when unmet expectations spiral into a volatile showdown. A darkly funny drama exploring the evolution of friendships – and the lengths to which we go to save them from falling into extinction.

Please note that this play includes graphic language and mature subject matter.

General Admission $25 ($23 Guild Hall Members)
$15 Students under 18

Production Team:
Set Designer – Raye Levine
Lighting Designer – Sebastian Paczynski
Stage Manager – Tyler Winthrop
Producer – Sawyer Spielberg
PR – Leah Lane

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