BWW Interview: GOING DARK, Part 14 - Sam Brinkley
The COVID-19 pandemic has effectively ceased the theatre industry as a whole. With no end in sight, and no promise of any definitive return, artists and technicians are now casually adrift in a sea of unknowns. Like the rest of the world, they wait for a future that may never come. GOING DARK is an exclusive interview series, conducted during these uncertain and anxious times. It seeks to give artists a bit of control by letting them voice their experience. These honest, open, and raw stories, told by artists in their own words, bring to light a new reality. Part 14 features UCO Musical Theatre student Sam Brinkley.
This is GOING DARK.
BWW: Theatres around the world are going dark in the wake of the Corona Virus/COVID-19 pandemic. How are you, as a performing artist, coping with that? Are there any personal self-care techniques that have been particularly helpful?
SB: It's such a tragedy, what's going on in the world right now, but I do think that art, in any form, is more important than ever. I think that me being an artist, which is weird to say about myself, but anyway, I think I'm coping with it by really getting to the roots of why I do what I do.
I've always loved being involved in the arts because it gives everyone a sense of escape from reality, especially me. It lets me play dress up for a little while. It lets me forget about all of the bad in the world for a little while, and I love that I can offer that to someone. Whether it's on stage next to me or in the audience. I wouldn't say that I have specific techniques, but I just think that this is a time for artists everywhere to think about what they're doing and why they're doing it. I really believe that a lot of good work is going to be put out following this quarantine. Song writers and storytellers have all the time in the world right now. The amount of good scripts and songs that are going to come out of this is nuts.
BWW: Art heals, even in the most uncertain times. Personally, I am leaning on my love of music, as it's something I can still enjoy without having to break any social distancing precautions. Are there any books/music/movies/TV shows that have been helping you during this temporary setback?
SB: Dude I have been reading, bingeing, and writing like crazy. So, I guess I could say just books/music/movies/TV (and lots of video games) in general have been helping me. If you want to get real specific though, I've listened to a lot of Joe Rogan Podcasts, watched all of The Mandalorian and Tiger King, and played extensive hours of Call of Duty. BUT the biggest thing right now for me though has been having time to sit and play the guitar and work on my voice every day. I've been writing a lot of music lately, and I don't know how good it is, but it's very therapeutic and it's a lot of damn fun!
BWW: You were slated to play Joseph in UCO's production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. While it's still uncertain if you'll get to perform, what were you most looking forward to being able to share with audiences? What do you love about this role?
SB: Yeah, this one hurt a lot. We are pretty much for sure going to say it's cancelled, which just sucks man. Although, with recent events, it's totally justified. I think what I was most looking forward to was telling our story, our way. Joseph has been a staple in the musical theatre world for so long, but Steven Smeltzer really helped us to make it SO different. AND SO MUCH FUN. Believe me, it was such a blast doing that show. It's not the best book in the world, it doesn't have the most in-depth music and characters, but I know that people would have so much fun when they came. The absurdity, and the genuine take on the script, was incredible to be a part of. And I guess I'm just sad that people couldn't see how much good work everyone in the cast and crew did.
I'm super sad that y'all couldn't see Caleb Barnett as the Pharaoh. Oh my god it was incredible. The thing I love about this role is that it's actually a challenge. When you see Joseph and you think about it, it seems so easy, but when you look at how the script is layered and laid out, and you really delve into the mind of Joseph, you see how complex every emotion can be because he's a human just like you or me. I think that's something that really set our show apart, the attention to detail and character building that the actors at UCO were doing was, frankly, beautiful. I just hope to have a chance to do this show in the future.
BWW: The UCO Jazz Lab is such a great music venue, and not the typical staging you'd expect for a large musical. What has been exciting about preparing for this role in such an intimate space?
SB: Oh my gosh, it changes everything. In my opinion, nothing beats intimate theatre. When Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma did Bright Star at the Plaza, it was freaking incredible. The intimacy of the space allows you to see an actor's every facial expression and helps you pick up on a lot more detail than in huge venues. I think it also makes it much harder on the actor. It challenges you to create a believable human being and still be entertaining enough to keep everyone's attention. On an intimate stage, there's no bullshitting your way through the show. You have to give everything you got, every single time. And Joseph, done in an intimate setting, is SOOO much better in my opinion.