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BWW Interviews: Randall Duk Kim at Centenary Stage Company

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Centenary Stage Company (CSC) in Hackettstown, NJ launches a new series this season with the 'Great Authors Out Loud Series' which offers staged readings of plays written by four of the world's greatest playwrights. The first is Sun. Sept. 16 at 3pm directed by the wonderful stage and film actor Randall Duk Kim. Kim has performed leading roles in the works of Shakespeare, Chekhov, Moliere, Ibsen and more at regional theatres throughout the country, including the prestigious American Conservatory Theatre of San Francisco, The American Place Theater (NY), The New York Shakespeare Festival, and his own American Players Theatre, which he founded with colleagues Anne Occhiogrosso and Charles Bright in 1979. Kim’s accomplishments have earned him Obie Award for “Sustained Excellence of Performance” in  theatrical work. Mr. Kim’s TV and film work includes the BBC Special “Prisoner in Time”, “Anna and the King,” “Memoirs of a Geisha,” “ Ninja Assassin,” and more. He is most well known for his performances as the Key Master in the MATRIX RELOADED and in Dreamworks KUNG FU PANDA. He has also been seen on Broadway in the 2002 Broadway revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s FLOWER DRUM SONG. 

BWW had a chance to talk to Mr. Kim about the series and get his insight on this new endeavor. 

How did you become involved with CSC and the Great Authors Out Loud Series?

Randall Duk Kim: Well, I live in Great Meadows, NJ which is very close to Hackettstown where the college is and my wife Annie Occhiogrosso bumped into Catherine Rust at a street fair in town. Catherine knew of the theater we started in Wisconsin and suggested we get together to meet Carl Wallnau and discuss possible projects we might do together. We met and hit it off wonderfully and decided to see if there would be any interest in these great old plays and playwrights.

Sometimes those chance meetings work out beautifully. How did you go about choosing

these playwrights for the series?

Of course these are among the greatest playwrights to have written for the theater that have ever existed and these plays are among their finest.  Annie and I have had the privilege of either directing or acting in all of them and felt we could better guide actors in works with which we are familiar. However, you will notice we have entitled the series the GREAT AUTHORS OUT LOUD.  If, perchance, this first round of offerings is successful, future offerings could tap into an astonishing array of artistry in the written word.

I love that you are already thinking ahead. What can audiences expect from these staged readings?

For us it’s not so much about the staging.  We want the audiences to spend a few hours getting to know these masters and the wonder of their work.  We will endeavor to give the audience a clear and honest rendering of these plays in a relaxed atmosphere hoping that they will be surprised, stimulated, and well entertained.

What importance do you place on keeping these names in the public eyes?

They are some of the brightest lights in our cultural and intellectual heritage.  They have served as guides in my own personal development besides providing me with joy, excitement, comfort, wonder, curiosity, and life-long challenge.  I am convinced that their vision of our human condition is necessary to our survival in our imperiled world.

Can you tell us about APT and what you offered there under your tutelage?

We attempted to create a highly trained American troupe capable of performing the world’s greatest classical drama in rotating repertory; that is four to six plays alternating in performance. The versatility and skill demanded of such an enterprise was enormous and after more than a decade of labor we had to admit defeat. We could not bring into being what we envisioned. We, Annie, Chuck, who sadly passed away last year, and I left APT in 1991 to pursue other projects and have never looked back.

Perhaps, some day, a handful of youngsters who dream big will give us an American theater that will offer us performances of the world’s dramatic treasures; they will finally give us a theater that we so deeply long for.

What do you tell young performers of today when discussing the difference between stage work and film?

Both are serious disciplines.  The stage demands that you be fully prepared to live out a character’s destiny for 2 to 3 hours in person.  The film demands that you surrender yourself fully to a moment in a story or a director’s vision.  Of course this is my simplified notion of the difference between stage and screen.  I would need more time to go into it in greater detail.  I love both mediums; they both have their particular challenges.  If people think highly of my film work, however, I can only attribute it to my many years on the stage and my determination to know and perform in the works of the great playwrights.  In truth, those “masters” have taught me how to act and to a great degree how to live.

BBW appreciates Mr. Kim taking the time from his busy schedule to talk to us. This series is free to the public, but reservations are suggested. Visit www.centenarystageco.org or call the CSC Box office at 908-979-0900 for more information. 

 Photo: Randall Duk Kim, Carl Wallnau, Annie Occhiogrosso


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