Actor-Direcor Scot Atkinson. Photo-The Bard’s Town
By Brian Walker
Entire contents copyright © 2014 by Brian Walker. All rights reserved.
Scot Atkinson is a man of many talents (and job descriptions). His official title at The Bard’s Town is co-owner/artistic director, but on a busy night he can be seen doing just about everything, including bouncer and making a mean cocktail. He directs and acts in their upcoming production of William Missouri Downs’ play The Exit Interview, opening May 8. (http://www.thebardstown.com/the-exit-interview.html)
Brian Walker: I’m getting my 17 Questions column going again and would love to let the fine folks of the Louisville theatre community know a bit more about you, if you’re willing?
Scot Atkinson: I’d be happy to. Thanks for asking!
BW: Excellent! Let’s start with the current show: Number 1. You’re directing and acting in The Exit Interview opening next weekend at The Bard’s Town, what drew you to this script?
SA: It was actually the first play I read from our current season. I immediately thought that I could help tell this story. And it’s a comedy about a shooting spree on a college campus. How often does that come along?
BW: Ha! Not often I would think. Number 2. What’s been the most challenging thing about acting and directing in the same show?
SA: This was not by design. I asked 5 actors (all more competent than me) to play this part. They were all interested, but tied up in other projects. The most challenging aspect is not being able to see the play as a whole. As a director I assume the role of an audience member. That is difficult when you are onstage 90% of the show.
BW: Number 3. This play was also a 2012 rolling world premiere in the National New Play Network, what does that mean for folks not familiar with it?
SA: It means that it is considered one of the best new plays that are out there right now.
BW: Number 4. And there are cheerleaders, yes? Any nudity?
SA: Yes, cheerleaders exists. And there are some in the play. Unfortunately, no nudity. But, now that you mention it, there is some underwear action, but not from the cheerleaders.
BW: Works for me. Number 5. What kind of director are you? What’s important to you about the rehearsal process? (Sorry, throwing a two-parter at you, but they’re connected!)
SA: I am a storyteller. I want the audience to be engaged 100% of the time. In the early stages of rehearsal I focus on the nuts and bolts: can everything that needs to be seen and heard be seen and heard? I also concern myself greatly with the pacing of the show. I cannot tolerate unearned pauses. Basically, I watch the show, and, if I get bored, I fix it. I try not to do too much actor coaching. Instead I try to let the cast find their own way. I think it is a much more rewarding process. I tend to lay out breadcrumbs rather than lead them. I have no interest in being a puppeteer.
BW: Number 6. When you’re not at The Bard’s Town working, acting or directing or building, (other than sleeping), what can you be found doing?
SA: I enjoy eating in restaurants I can’t afford.
BW: Number 7. And you’re into the rap music, I know, which you know I love. If you could live in any rapper’s shoes for a month, who would it be and why?
SA: What a badass question. I have to say Kanye. I would like to know what it’s like to wake up in the morning and do whatever the hell I want. That must be nice. I know tons of people despise him and that’s fine. Those folks don’t deserve him. I defend Kanye almost as much as I defend professional wrestling. I am under the firm belief that Kanye will go down as the most important artist (to me) of my lifetime.
BW: I love it! Number 8. What’s your favorite thing on The Bard’s Town menu?
SA: My order would always be the same: Loin-ee-Pops, cup of tomato bisque, side of mac and cheese: all creations of our original chef, the late and loved Joe Gadansky.
BW: Number 9. What else will you be doing with the current season?
SA: I’ll be involved with The Ten-Tucky Festival of Ten Minute Plays as a director, I’ll be directing Doug’s next premiere, Just LIKE Life, and we’ll be doing The Kings of Christmas again for the holidays.
BW: Number 10. If you were stuck on a desert island with any one member of The Bard’s Town staff, who would you prefer it be and why?
SA: I’ve got to say Doug Schutte. Doug has a magical knack for getting shit done. I doubt we’d be on that island long.
BW: Number 11. Is there a play you’re dying to produce at The Bard’s Town but haven’t gotten a chance yet for whatever reason?
SA: I’d love another crack at Glengarry Glen Ross, but purely for selfish reasons.
BW: Number 12. Acting or directing, which do you prefer and why?
SA: These days it’s directing. I have so little time to sit down with the script and do all the work that a good actor should.
BW: Number 13. What’s the craziest thing a customer has said to you while you were bartending?
SA: “Do I stink?” This was asked when a costumer was asked to leave after he had obviously shit his pants. Much bleach was used that day.
BW: I heard about that happening at casino slot machines but not a bar. You’re a good man for not killing him. It is not okay to just shit wherever you want. Alright. Sorry. Number 14. Do you have a process as an actor before a show? A nightly ritual or warm-up?
SA: My rituals are always dictated by the show. It’s different at The BT because my duties are so numerous, so there are the occasions when I barely have enough time to get into costume and get on the stage.
BW: Number 15. What is one thing that everyone would be really surprised to learn about you?
SA: I have three nipples. Seriously.
BW: Hot. Number 16. What’s been the most rewarding thing about being co-owner of The Bard’s Town?
SA: Working with so many talented people. We are lucky enough to have a group of core actors who believe in what we do here. We also have the benefit of so many great local artists who want to work with us. We have a staff that goes above and beyond because they want The BT to be successful. I’ve also developed relationships with the best comedians in Louisville. I’m extremely proud of The Roast series that we have developed into a perfect marriage of stand-up comedy and theatre. But, most importantly, my artistic relationship with Doug has become something special. We have a yin and yang thing going on which results in serving our audience the best we can.
BW: As a patron I can say you guys do an impeccable job and we all appreciate you guys so much. Alright, last question and my favorite: Number 17. Who is someone who inspires you and why?
SA: I am continually inspired by John Hardy and Katy Brown. I worked with them for five years at The Barter Theatre in Abingdon, VA. They have developed a way of getting the best out of you as an actor. I constantly hear myself saying things that they said to me in an effort to do for others what they did for me.