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Interview with Actor, Jeremy Shamos

Interview with Actor, Jeremy Shamos

Ted Sod: Why did you choose to do this play and this role?

Jeremy Shamos: I've been a fan of Donald Margulies for as long as I've been interested in the theater and though I didn't see the original production, I've been interested in this play since it was written. The combination of getting to do this play, with Pam MacKinnon who I collaborated with on Bruce Norris' Clybourne Park is a rare and exciting opportunity. This is also the first time I've gotten to do a production at Roundabout and it is one of the city's most admired institutions. A perfect storm of opportunities.

TS: How is this character relevant to you? I realize the rehearsal process hasn't begun yet, but can you share some of your thoughts about what you find most challenging/exciting about this role?

JS: The character is relevant to me in the same way that I suspect it will be relevant to everyone who sees the play. He is person in a marriage/partnership, who finds himself questioning his life's circumstances that have gone on a kind of autopilot...chaotic events around us often make us flee and isolate or cling and fuse... the challenge for me is that Gabe is essentially a "clinger/fuser" and I've struggled with my instinct of isolating. It will be interesting to play a person who on the surface is very much like me, but who fundamentally has a completely different coping system.

Interview with Actor, Jeremy Shamos

Jeremy Shamos and Marin Hinkle

TS: What do you think the play is about? What was your first emotional response to the play?

JS: The play seems to be contemplating relationships in two of its forms: Marriage and friendship... the dynamics of couples... sometimes one member of one couple is closer with one member of the other. Sometimes one person knows the other couple before they themselves become paired up. The play looks at the dynamics of old friends, allegiances, love, endurance and what I spoke about before, the differences we all have when faced with crisis. Flee or Fight? Seek comfort from another or seek solace in solitude? Blow things up and start over or rebuild what is broken?

TS: Can you tell us about the relationships between Gabe and Karen? Gabe and Tom? Gabe and Beth?

JS: My feeling is that Gabe and Karen are very simpatico, have passionate shared interests and are generally on the same page about everything from child rearing to taste in food and art. What they struggle with is what many couples struggle with, communication about deeper feelings. This seems not to be Gabe's specialty and Karen seems to be the mouthpiece for the couples' feelings which is fine until the feelings are about themselves, then Gabe falls silent. The relationship between Gabe and Tom is the oldest relationship in the play. They have known each other the longest and have the most history. It is also between two people who feel very comfortable joking around but perhaps not discussing what is going on internally... as a result, in some ways, this relationship is the one that has the most damage done to it by play's end. If one of the play's themes is (as I've suggested above ad nauseum) Fleeing vs. Clinging, this relationship is that argument in human form. As for Gabe and Beth, there is probably a level of jealousy in this relationship, meaning that Gabe is jealous of Beth's relationship with Tom. There can sometimes be that weird edge with mates of best friends, which borders on "I know him/her better than you ever will" with the internal knowledge that they are a couple and share things that you are not privy to.

Interview with Actor, Jeremy Shamos

Jeremy Shamos, Marin Hinkle, Heather Burns and Darren Pettie

TS: How do you like to collaborate with a director?

JS: I like to have a very honest two-way relationship in which there are no egg shells on the ground. My work, their work, even the play is not precious during rehearsal and when everyone can put his/her ego aside and know that we are all working for the good of the play and the theatrical experience, that kind of collaboration is very fruitful. I feel lucky to have worked multiple times with multiple directors as that kind of easy honest relationship just gets stronger with each project. I'm very glad that Pam is directing this play, I'm looking forward to what she brings to the table and what we all bring to the table meshing and morphing and becoming something that none of us brought to the table but all recognize as something we would've brought, if we could've made it ourselves.

TS: Where are you from? Where did you get your training?

JS: I was born in Manhattan but moved to Denver, Colorado at the age of two. I came back to New York to attend NYU where I got both a BFA and an MFA.

Dinner With Friends plays at the Laura Pels Theatre January 17 through April 13. For more information and tickets, please visit our website.

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