Brian Tichnell Stars as THE GRADUATE in LA Theatreworks Current Radio Play Tonight
The internationally acclaimed L.A. Theatre Works is bringing its unique, hybrid radio theater-style production of The Graduate to the McCallum Theatre tonight, February 25 at 8:00 pm.
The sly and witty coming-of-age story of a young and innocent college grad seduced by an older woman was a theatrical sensation when it premiered at the Gielgud Theatre in London's West End, then transferred to Broadway. For three decades, L.A. Theatre Works has been the leading radio theater company in the United States, committed to using innovative technologies to preserve and promote significant works of dramatic literature and bringing live theater into the homes of millions. LA based actor Brian Tichnell plays the slightly neurotic Benjamin Bratton in this critically acclaimed production. I had the opportunity to chat with Tichnell about the production. Here are a few excerpts from that conversation.
D: Let's start by talking a little bit about you. Where are you from? Where did you go to school? Just the general "you".
BT: Yeah. Sure. Well. I'm originally from Mississippi, Grew up in a small town called Petal. Like the flower, not the bicycle. (He laughs). And then I went to the University of Mississippi. Got my BFA in acting there. Went on to grad school at the California Institute of the Arts, Got my MFA there. And then I graduated about two and a half years ago. Since then ... I've resided in Los Angeles, doing the whole freelance acting thing. I've worked a little in television and I do as much theatre as I can. This is my first tour with LA Theatreworks. It's been a blast.
D: How many weeks are you on the road with The Graduate?
BT: Nine weeks total. This is our second leg. We were out for about a month in October-November and this leg we're out the entire month of February.
D: So, what drew you to this role of Benjamin Braddock.
BT: Well, the truth is ... I got a Facebook message from the casting director. She knew me form some other plays I had done in the area. She was looking for actors that people had worked with and liked. I went in and read the sides - the audition material - and I just remember connecting immediately to kind of his point of view, which I think is kind of - it's a common point of view but it's also the kind where you could go one way or the other - the way he sees the world -- and I think I was kind of able to ride the line between, you know, intelligence, neurosis, confidence - and he's kind of feeling all those things at once, and I just really connected to the material immediately, And then I auditioned for the director and ah ... I was really feeling it ... and I just knew when I left that I was gonna get this. Because, I don't know, there's something about Benjamin Braddock that my soul connects to - the whole character. He's a bit selfish and I can kind of understand that. Especially when you're coddled by academia - you kind of create a sense of justifying your actions towards people and I can connect with that,
D: What makes the LA Theatreworks production such a unique theatrical experience?
BT: Well, it's the premiere radio theatre acting company. It's a bit like a play - but we're at microphones and we perform "out" instead of to each other .. but we wear costumes and have a bit of blocking and there is some interaction - we don't have any props - any props we would use we mime and we have a sound effects table in the back so the sound effects are made live while we act at the microphone. The reason it's so great - I mean, A. there's the novelty - seeing how a radio play might have gone down back in the 20's and 30's and 40's when that was a huge medium, but also there's something about it - when you're unencumbered by trying to realistically portray something the audience is allowed to put the picture of what is happening in their mind, and our goal is really just to lay the script out for them. When you're watching it you really hear and see the story play out before your eyes. I think the way we sort of minimalize it gives it a special clarity.
D: Because the film is such a classic, with such unforgettable performances, do you find that to be a challenge for audiences?
BT: I get lots of hate mail. (He laughs) It can be a problem for someone who really loves the film, but you just have to ... I just play the character the way I play it and don't think about Dustin Hoffman. If there is a challenge there, I don't meet it directly. I don't think about it. I just play the role the way I see it.