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Interview: Multi-Talented Actor Ron Bottitta on his roles in WAKINGS! at the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble

Directed by Ron Sossi

Interview: Multi-Talented Actor Ron Bottitta on his roles in WAKINGS! at the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble

The ability to totally transform yourself into the physical, emotional and intellectual persona of another person so believably that audience members will see the character and not the actor is one of the most fascinating elements of live theatre to me. This is especially true for actors I follow, seeing them in several productions and always being surprised at the new person presented in front of me, often having nothing in common with the real personality of the actor.

One such actor is Ron Bottitta, an English-born actor who has called the USA his home since 1980, known for his roles in the television series Boston Public, The Shield, Alias, Lost, Law & Order: LA and Grey's Anatomy, as well as a long string of voice overs in numerous movies and hosting Rogue Machine Theatre's Rant and Rave weekly online series. Thanks to several small theaters around Los Angeles, I discovered Ron's incredible talent during several productions, including Faith Healer, Hir, Theatre in the Dark and The Arsonists at the Odyssey and, most recently, The Children at The Fountain Theatre in Hollywood.

Interview: Multi-Talented Actor Ron Bottitta on his roles in WAKINGS! at the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble

(Pictured: Ron Bottitta)

Ron's latest multi-character appearance takes place at the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble with Wakings! which presents an evening of short 'mind excursions' by Harold Pinter with Robert Coover and Hermann Hesse. A five-person ensemble of Odyssey favorites is set to examine the manifestation of human consciousness, including Ron Bottitta, Diana Cignoni, Kristina Ladegaard, Darrell Larson and C.J. O'Toole in Pinter's Victoria Station and A Kind of Alaska; Coover's Rip Awake; and Hesse's Siddhartha. Collectively titled Wakings!, the metaphysical adventure begins Saturday, April 30 with performances continuing through June 5.

I recently spoke with the talented Mr. Ron Bottitta about the experience of appearing in three of the four short offerings and how his personal experience with human consciousness fits into his character development.

Thanks so much, Ron, for taking the time to speak with me.

Thank you, Shari. It's a privilege to sit down with you.

Interview: Multi-Talented Actor Ron Bottitta on his roles in WAKINGS! at the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble

(Pictured: Ron Bottitta and C.J. O'Toole in Victoria Station.)

In researching your credits for this interview, I was quite amazed at the long list of movies in which you have appeared, either in person or via voice over. And since I know you as a stage actor, which of your many credits, either film or stage, sticks in your mind as an experience that transformed your career?


Yeah, it's odd that I've accumulated that many film and TV credits. I only started doing TV and films in my 40s. And I lucked into it after failing to get representation for years and years and years. I was fortunate to get a role on the TV series Lost when no one quite realized what a phenomenon it would turn out to be. And I did a succession of on-screen appearances in movies which weirdly have become classics.

I started doing background voices on films in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie-because they needed people who could do lots of dialects. Ironically, doing background voices has become the single most lucrative thing that I do. Once you break into that world, the only way you'll accept leaving it is in a box.

Interview: Multi-Talented Actor Ron Bottitta on his roles in WAKINGS! at the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble

(Pictured: C.J. O'Toole in Victoria Station)

I've also done a lot of performance capture and got to work with Robert Zemeckis and then Steven Spielberg. I worked with Spielberg on Tintin in 2009 which was probably the most significant thing to me, because as a child I'd read all the Tintin books, so after that I felt I could retire.

I've also become quite successful in the world of video games. You might not be aware of it because you don't live in your mom's basement, but I voice the iconic role of Captain Butcher in a bunch of Call of Duty franchises.

Interview: Multi-Talented Actor Ron Bottitta on his roles in WAKINGS! at the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble

(Pictured: Diana Cignoni and Ron Bottitta in A Kind of Alaska)

Let's talk a bit about the cast of Wakings! which, along with you, includes four other Odyssey favorites, including Diana Cignoni, Kristina Ladegaard, Darrell Larson and C.J. O'Toole. Have you worked with any of them before?

I've worked with Diana on Faith Healer and The Arsonists and with Cary on The Arsonists and Theatre in the Dark. I'm familiar with Darrell's work through Rogue Machine Theatre. And Christina I'm just getting to know now.

I know you have worked with Ron Sossi before. Did he have to work on convincing you to take part in Wakings! or was it an immediate "yes" when offered to you due to understanding his directing style?

I said yes before I even knew what plays he was doing. I love everyone at the Odyssey. This is my 13th show there. But seriously, does anyone understand Ron Sossi's directing style?

That is a great question I thought you might be able to answer for me!

Interview: Multi-Talented Actor Ron Bottitta on his roles in WAKINGS! at the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble

(Pictured: Darrell Larson in Rip Awake)

Switching back to preparing for the production, I'd like to hear about your own experiences with human consciousness, such as meditation, which you have found useful in preparing your characters in Wakings!

I think the best theatre occurs when both the actors and the audience are hypnotized into believing what's happening onstage is real. But my only meditation or inner calm occurs on my motorcycle at 80 miles an hour on twisty mountain roads.

I know several people who have told me the same thing! Speaking of changing gears quickly, I understand you are appearing in three of the four short plays making up the 90-minutes of Wakings! Can you tell me a bit more about your character and the situations in which he finds himself?

My survival job when I first moved to LA was running my own 24-hour on-demand motorcycle courier business. I sweated over a hundred deliveries every day using a two-way radio convincing 10 riders to crisscross LA at breakneck speed. I don't want to give the plot away, but-no one needs to teach me anything about homicidal ideation.

Interview: Multi-Talented Actor Ron Bottitta on his roles in WAKINGS! at the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble

(Pictured: Ron Bottitta and Diana Cignoni in A Kind of Alaska)

In one of the short plays, A Kind of Alaska, a woman wakes up from a 30-year coma with a mind that is still 16-years-old. It seems to me most people would prefer to inhabit their past 16-year-old self rather than deal with the truth about time moving on and changing their physical reality. As her doctor, do you see him as sympathetic to her plight or just a by-the-books medical professional who attempts to hide his emotions with patients in his care?

Again, I don't want to give the plot away, but the doctor has become emotionally attached to his patient over 30 years. And we don't always get what we want.


Finally, all five actors come together to explore the state of consciousness in the final stages of the Buddha's awakening in an excerpt from Siddhartha, Herman Hesse's timeless novel. Given Ron Sossi's love of the absurd, what can you share about bringing this offering to the stage?

Interview: Multi-Talented Actor Ron Bottitta on his roles in WAKINGS! at the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble

(Pictured: Darrell Larson in Rip Awake)

Ron's love of the absurd is only eclipsed by his love of Buddhism. He knows whereof he speaks.

Absurd Buddhism. What an interesting concept! Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with me. And congratulations on your recent engagement! Is there anything else about the production or life in general you would like to share with my readers?


Because I'm in the middle of these pieces, I don't have an overview of how they fit together. I think that's gonna be for the audience to decide. The evening is full of surprises-as my life has been recently. During the pandemic, when the theatres had shut down, I had the freedom for the first time in decades to leave town for an extended period, and I ended up riding my motorcycle over 50,000 miles around all lower 48 states. On the way round, in rural Virginia, I met an old friend who I'd been in grad school with at NYU, and we fell in love. If you think I was surprised, imagine how she felt. Thanks for your congratulations. I'm happier than I've ever been. What could be better than doing lots of theatre and being in love?

Not much that I can think of, really! May we all be as lucky in the near future.


Interview: Multi-Talented Actor Ron Bottitta on his roles in WAKINGS! at the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble Wakings! is presented by Odyssey Theatre Ensemble in association with Isabel and Harvey Kibel. The creative team includes set designer Song Yi Park, lighting designer Nina Marie Attinello, sound designer Christopher Moscatiello and costume designer Mylette Nora. The stage manager is Jacob Price, with Beth Hogan producing. The Odyssey Theatre is located at 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West Los Angeles, 90025, with onsite parking available. For reservations and information, including up-to-date Covid-19 safety protocols, call (310) 477-2055 or go to OdysseyTheatre.com.

Performances take place Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. from April 30 through June 5, with two additional performances set for Wednesday, May 11 and Wednesday, May 25, each at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $32 to $37. There will be two "Tix for $10" performances, on Wednesday, May 11 and Friday, May 27. Post-performance discussions are scheduled on Wednesday, May 11 and Friday, May 20, and are included in ticket price. The last Friday of the month, May 27, is "Wine Night" when audience members can enjoy complimentary wine and snacks and mingle with the cast after the show. Additional discounts are available at select performances for seniors, students and patrons under 30; call theater for details.

Wakings! promo reel: https://player.vimeo.com/video/700540295?h=013ef32d48

Wakings! rehearsal photos by Katy Yates



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