BWW Interview: Nicholas L. Ashe Chats About KILL FLOOR and the Remarkable Text by Abe Koogler
Nicholas L. Ashe is currently turning heads in the debut of the brand new play KILL FLOOR at Lincoln Center. Ashe defies expectation and is having a career-defining moment in the new play by Abe Koogler.
In Kill Floor, Andy (to be played by Marin Ireland) returns to her hometown after three years in prison and takes a job at the local slaughterhouse, while trying to reconcile with her 15 year-old son, B (to be played by Nicholas L. Ashe).
Nicholas L. Ashe recently sat down with BroadwayWorld to talk about working with Koogler's text, the tight knit cast and learning from his surrounding in Kill Floor.
Check out the full interview below.
Can you tell us a little bit about Kill Floor?
Yeah, it's a tricky question. Kill Floor is about a lot of things. It's a unique set of characters all working through connection and identity and family and struggling to come to terms by any means necessary.
Who do you play in Kill Floor? And how does your character fit into this unique story?
I play Brendan or B. He's an esteemed vegan. At the top of the show, his mother has just gotten out of prison. She's been away for five years. Kill Floor follows them as they try to reconcile their relationship. Five years is a very long time, especially with how old he is. She was gone from the time he was 10 to when he was 15, so she missed a lot. They are catching up on one another. The on going track of the story is that she accepts a job on the Kill Floor of a slaughterhouse where they kill cows. She is meeting this young vegan at the same time so that all comes together in Kill Floor.
Abe Koogler's text is remarkable for this show, how is it working with it?
I think it's my favorite script that I have read in the past year because there is so much room for interpretation. On paper it resembles text messages almost. It's very back and forth and sparse in that sense. So, it leaves a lot of room for smart actors to come in and decide what is funny. The emphasis when you read it is to just go back and forth, but we sort of work to find the beats and the pauses and to give some lines more merit because he won't even give you italics or underlines. You really have to dig in there and find it.
Personally, my favorite type of shows are the shows that open the door and say, 'That's what happened on that day.' And then they close the door back. Those are my favorite type of stories and Kill Floor totally does that. It presents drama and comedy and these really strong characters with really strong plots and messages, but it doesn't throw it in your face. It's not preachy and it all happens within 70 minutes. It combine s a lot of my favorite elements of storytelling and I'm excited to explore it every night at Lincoln Center!
You guys have been deconstructing it and reconstructing it as your own it sounds like?
Totally! It's the most fun for an actor to do. It's really interesting.
You are only 20 years old, how is it going back and exploring adolescence?
The character B and his best friend Simon are both dealing with things of like language, like they are learning what vernaculars they want to speak in. They are exploring language, they are exploring sex and identity as well. I feel like at 20 years old, I don't think I am at that place where I can say, 'I will speak this way' or 'I'll wear this the rest of my life' or 'This is exactly who I'm going to be with.' So, it's not too far of a stretch for some of the things I'm going through. There's a specific moment in the show where he's like leaving a voicemail for someone he wants to really call him back and you know, we've all been there. We've all sent that super awful text that you regret later on. It's not too far of stretch for me in terms of some of the things I'm going through now and some of the things B goes through. High school isn't too far away so I can tap into some of these experiences.
How is working with Marin Ireland and this small, intimate cast you have?
It has been really amazing. I know every cast or every actor talks about how their cast is a closely knit family, but like Saturday between shows we all sat on the couch together in the green room and watched "Waiting for Duffman" together. If that is any indicator for how close we've become over the past couple of weeks. It definitely carries on stage where we feel like we are just supporting each other. It's nice working with actors that are so open to make the show different every time and to just explore or else 8 shows a week would be super boring if we had to do a scene exactly the same. It's fun to explore and have fun with these guys.
Does the show change every night dependent on the audience?
The show itself went through a couple changes in previews, but that is something Abe Koogler and Lila Neugebauer, our director, were working on to sort of solidify the ending and make sure the story will land in the strongest way possible. As far as the actors, we definitely have found new moments and gotten into a groove on certain things. Things that were kind of muddy definitely feel better, but more than anything it's just about being open and actively listening every night as opposed to going on auto pilot. So with that you might find a new choice that's there someday that isn't the next. The choice you made one day may not work the next day. It's nice to be working with really talented, smart, hilarious, subtle actors.
You have done Choir Boy, The Lion King national tour and numerous other projects, so is this role very different for you or are you tapping into things you've used in previous shows?
Definitely taping into things I've learned from previous shows. I'm only 20 so I did not go to school immediately after high school. I definitely acknowledge that college is something necessary, but for my path it wasn't an immediate choice that needed to happen. So, from working I feel like that is where I'm getting an education of what it means to be an actor working in theatre. Kill Floor hasn't only applied some of the things I learned from Choir Boy or The Lion King, but I have definitely honed some new skills I didn't know I had. From being with the actors and this amazing director, I have learned SO much and it has made me a much more confident performer.
NICHOLAS L. ASHE (B). Off-Broadway: Choir Boy (MTC). National Tour: The Lion King. Regional: Choir Boy (Geffen Playhouse, Alliance Theatre). Film: Custody (dir. James Lapine). TV: "Songbyrd" (E!), "The Divide" (AMC), "Are We There Yet?" (TBS).