TEXPAT OF THE WEEK: MICHAEL AMENDOLA

5 Dec

Courtesy of The American Shakespeare Center

Rising Stage Star, Michael Amendola, is traveling with The American Shakespeare Center; performing in a rotating repertory of 12 actors. This season, Michael is performing on the Almost Blasphemy Tour through June 2012. The troupe not only play different characters in one of three shows; They are also a traveling band who perform live music at the beginning of their shows. To learn more about the Almost Blasphemy Tour, check out http://tiny.cc/1xb9c. Michael gives stories and advice to the Texpats, and We’re considering becoming his groupies.

Where are you from in Texas?

I was born and raised in San Antonio, TX. “Keep San Antonio lame”.

I attended college at Texas State University in San Marcos, TX where I got my BFA in acting and then I spent two years out of college in Austin, TX. I basically slowly inched my way 130 miles along Interstate-35 for 24 years. Although I spent most of my time in San Antonio, I like to say I am from Austin because that is where my heart is.

What’s it like to tour with the American Shakespeare Center?

The road is like walking on an escalator on a merry go round on a cruise ship with a karoke microphone and a gallon of water strapped to your back. It is also like a bear hibernating in a dark and cold cave. It is also like staring in a mirror for way too long. It is also like an indie rock music video filled with falling autumn leaves and slow motion dance parties. It is like an exotic fruit cocktail chased with cold coffee out of a Styrofoam cup. The experience is as much psychological as it is tangible. We have to be in a certain place at a certain time and do and say certain things, but all of the other time, it is an angsty toddler exploring without his mother. Learning, discovering, fearing uncertainty, getting bored, blanking out into hazes, and rejoicing in the new. It is hello and goodbye in the wink of an eye.

How do your audiences respond to Shakespeare?

It is mostly very positive. A lot of people in the world have a pre-conceived notion that Shakespeare is boring, or too high-falutent, almost pretentious. A lot of times it certainly does come off that way when it is performed badly. English students should remember that Shakespeare was meant to be seen and experienced rather than read, and when you see an ASC show that really hits home. The style is very high energy with lots of audience interaction and lots of contemporary music. Our audiences are mainly college campuses, but are open to the public. It is especially interesting when we play small town community centers, because the whole town seems to come out to see the show. They have such great appreciation for something cultural to becoming into their town and they listen whole heartedly. It is really interesting playing different states and see how people react to plays such as ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore by John Ford, which to this day is still very controversial and you can hear the audience’s varied responses from backstage.

Did you always want to be an actor?

When I was a little kid I wanted to be a cartoonist, a basketball player, a journalist, a chess player, a fireman, a professional bowler..etc. By  the end of high school I realized that if I chose to be an actor, I could kind of do all of those things. I could experience more facets of the human condition than if I did anything else. My mother still wanted me to pursue something more practical so I went into College thinking I would do some form of journalism, but after my first college play, I was hooked forever.

Courtesy of The Austin Shakespeare Festival

                                     Courtesy of The Austin Shakespeare Festival

What do you miss about home?

1. Breakfast Tacos
2. Swimming in November (comfortably)
3. Austin. The vibe, the nightlife, the music, the food, the people, the run down warehouse theatres, the WEIRDness.
4. Everything is cheap and everything is BIG in Texas. (except for the things that are small and expensive…)

Most surreal touring adventure?

I will keep it kind of discreet for the moment. But I guess the juxtaosition of being in rural Virginia one day, and then the next being in downtown Washington D.C, then Ohio, then Manhattan. It feels like a lucid dream. Although, I did visit a club in Pennsylvania called the Cell Block which is a converted prison, which was pretty surreal.

Worst traveling mistake?

This didn’t happen to me, but somebody in our troupe left keys to one of the vans at a gas station in a different state and had to drive all night and morning to retrieve them. Also, don’t do anything that might make you feel a little nauseous before you have to travel 8 hours thru a mountain range.

You’re hosting a dinner party with five of your favorite figures (living or dead). Who’s in attendance?

1. Jim Henson
2. The Pixies (does that count?)
3. Tina Fey
4. Buster Keaton
5. Laura Lane

How’s the food on the road?

Always save money for eating in Maine. Experiencing cultural cuisine is definitely one of the huge perks on the road. We cannot afford to indulge often, but we wait for the perfect places like New England Clam Chowder and Lobster in Maine. They’ll put Lobster in ANYTHING. Fresh crab from Baltimore. Aligator dumplings. Bar B Q and breakfast tacos from Texas (of course). Truffle fries and maple chicken panini from Oneonta, NY. But honestly, most of the time, we’re eating Subway and Ruby Tuesday if not just stashing muffins from hotel continental breakfasts.

Courtesy of Zach Scott Theater

                                                                                              Courtesy of Zach Scott Theater

What’s your advice to other actors?

1. Take Risks. I emptied my bank account to go to this audition, and I got it and my life is changed forever.
2. Don’t be an asshole. Once you get your break into some aspect of the business, I believe that the only thing stopping you is yourself. Don’t be an asshole. Let things that you don’t have control of, slide, and take control of what you can while being a good person. Always remember that you are being paid to play, and many others don’t have that luxury. This business is not as cut throat as you think.
3. Always find the joy in creating in any form, and it will keep you inspired.
4. Create a life outside of acting. Otherwise you will go insane.

Where can we find out more about you?

You can read my blog at http://doladiaries.blogspot.com/
You can find my bio and those of the other touring actors at: http://www.americanshakespearecenter.com/v.php?pg=1238
You can also feel free to reach me at: m.dola@live.com

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