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Kyle Ware is a local gem you probably already know and love. He’s worked with a gaggle of local companies and was a member of Le Petomane Theatre Ensemble and helped create several shows with them, including my personal all-time favorite, 5 Things. This summer he’s doing triple duty (along with a whole slew of local talent) for Kentucky Shakespeare appearing in all three of the companies’ offerings at Central Park.
Brian Walker: Hey there sir! I was wondering if you’d be willing to do a 17 Questions with me in conjunction with the opening of Kentucky Shakespeare’s new season? And because, you know, I think you’re keen.
Kyle Ware: Absolutely! I’ve known and loved many of your 17 Questions subjects and I’d be very happy to join their ranks!
BW: Yay! Alright, we’ll start with Kentucky Shakespeare: Number 1. What role do you play in A Midsummer’s Night Dream and what’s the biggest difference in how you see the world with how they do?
KW: I’m doubled up in Midsummer as Egeus and fairy number 6. Shakespeare forgot to name him, so we’ve named him Ox Beef. When you see the show, I think you’ll agree it’s appropriate. These two characters are about as far on the opposite ends of the spectrum as you can get, with Egeus being the most buttoned up character in the show and Ox Beef the fairy being maybe the most unbuttoned. As for how I differ, with this show, everyone is a bit extreme in how they respond to the world. We’re none of us taking a step back to think things through. To quote Bottom, “Reason and love keep little company nowadays.” But were any of these people reasonable, it wouldn’t be nearly as funny and we’d be done in the first scene of the first Act. And Act 1, scene 1 is where we find Egeus, willing to threaten his daughter’s life should she not comply with his wishes. So we’re off to the races with the crazy right out of the gate. I like to think I’m a touch more reasonable than that, at least most days. On the other hand, Ox Beef and I are pretty much one and the same.
BW: Sounds like so much fun. You’ve gotta get a t-shirt made or something, “Ox Beef 2014” or something more witty. Number 2. What’s been the most exciting thing about being a part of the current Kentucky Shakespeare season?
KW: Brian, let me tell you, this thing this year is just so magical. Ask me that question at any give time on any given day and I could give you a dozen different answers. The best thing about it is simply being here every day, doing this work with these people for our community. This is your Kentucky Shakespeare and we’ve been thrilled to have so many people come out and embrace it so fervently.
BW: That’s so great to hear. The excitement surrounding this year’s season is just a really cool thing, for Shakespeare and theatre yes, but also for our entire community. Number 3. What roles are coming up for you in the upcoming productions?
KW: I am Pistol in Henry V and Guildenstern in Hamlet.
BW: Number 4. What’s the biggest challenge when performing at Central Park?
KW: Last week, I would have said sweating out of my microphone tape, but I think I have a better system in place now. Beyond that, the biggest challenge is also one of the things that make it so much fun: the unpredictability of outdoor theatre. It keeps you on your toes.
BW: Number 5. What’s your favorite play by Shakespeare and why?
KW: A Midsummer Night’s Dream is the first Shakespeare I read as a kid and it took hold of my imagination right away. And you know, watching kids in the audience in the park has been a lot of fun that way because when I see their faces light up, I say, “Yeah. Me too.” Macbeth is the first play I saw staged, and that hooked me on a whole new level. And the two share that connection of the natural and supernatural worlds bleeding together. That’s always been a fascinating device in fiction to me. Picking two is cheating, I know.
BW: I’ll let you slide, but only because you’re interesting. Number 6. Anytime I’ve seen you perform I feel like you are so committed on stage and seem to be truly inhabited by the characters that you portray, do you have a nightly performance ritual or anything you do to get you into character?
KW: First off, that’s kind of you to say so thank you. There are a few things that I do that no one would really care about but me and I’d feel ridiculous going into it, so I’ll spare you that. It all really boils down to the same stuff most actors are using anyway—you’re basic “who am I and what do I want?” and all of that—and all of that is pretty much “advanced pretending.”
BW: Number 7. What’s one-thing folks would be surprised to know about doing Shakespeare in the Park?
KW: Surprised to know? From talking to people in the audience each night, people seem a little surprised to know that we are working on all three shows simultaneously, rehearsing during the day and performing at night.
BW: Alright, let’s shift gears a little bit. Le Petomane recently announced the company would be closing shop. I know I’m one of many who will greatly miss the genius of Le Petomane. Number 8. If you had to name one, do you have a favorite single memory from performing with the troupe?
KW: Our first show together, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, because I can’t name drop that play enough, apparently. The last night of the run, we were doing the play within the play at the end of the show—I was Bottom as Pyramus and Greg was Snout as Wall—and to this day we have no idea which of us broke first, but broke we did, and when I turned back to look at Greg he was slowly starting to sink behind the hole in the wall with the most amazing pained yet gleeful look on his face. And of course, we took everyone else with us and in epic fashion. That’s not a thing to be proud of really, but with this particularly group on this particular night, it was so truthful and pure and the audience was so with us that it was kind of perfect. I don’t think I’ve heard an audience laugh that hard for that long since. That’s the night I fell head over heels in love with them all.
BW: What a great story, thank you for sharing it. Number 9. What will be the thing you miss the most about Le Petomane?
KW: The six of us in a room making each other laugh. There was nothing better.
BW: Number 10. What’s next for you once Kentucky Shakespeare closes?
KW: Oh. I should probably start thinking about that.
BW: Ha! You’ve got a few months. Number 11. If you could perform in a play with any famous actor in history, who would it be and why?
KW: Goodness. So many. You know, my stock answer there is Toshiro Mifune. He’s one of my all time favorites and I never understood a word he said. He was infinitely watchable and commanding on screen, grounded and present in everything he did, and extraordinarily versatile. He could be your leading man; he could do character work; he could do comedy. But my first gut reaction to the question was Bill Murray. He’s in a fascinating spot in his career where he can do pretty much anything he wants to do and he’s bulletproof and is acting and making choices accordingly. Possibility expands when fear contracts and Bill doesn’t seem afraid of much, professionally or personally.
BW: Number 12. What’s your favorite place to eat and drink after a show-both in general and specifically after performing at Central Park?
KW: With Kentucky Shakespeare, we’ve been doing some pretty long hours so we haven’t really settled in anywhere. We’ve wandered down to Magnolia a few times and we had our opening night party at The Bard’s Town and they treated us. And The Bard’s Town is my personal favorite—they’ve always treated Le Petomane like family.
BW: Indeed, they’re great. Number 13. Is there a play or specific role you’re dying to do but haven’t had the chance yet?
KW: You want I should stick with Shakespeare? Iago. I’m doing comedy or comic character most of the time, and while there’s a comedy and certainly a wit to him, he’s certainly not a comic character. I’ve always wanted to take a shot at Macbeth too. Like always. But I’m not the tallest actor going, so that one is a long shot.
BW: Number 14. What advice would you give to someone interested in doing collaborative-type theatre that the Le Petomane ensemble was known for?
KW: Go do it. It’s just that simple and just that difficult. You want a group who is supportive yet pushes you creatively. You want to get really good at playing like you’re a bunch of 6-year-olds and then let your craft and knowledge of story help form whatever ridiculous thing you’ve discovered at play. And if you like each other, that’s going to come in handy. Working the way we worked can be tough and certainly isn’t for everyone. When you don’t have an ending to your show on a Sunday and it’s opening that Wednesday…that can be a bit of a stressor. You want to make sure your relationships can stand up to that kind of pressure.
BW: Number 15. Who would play you in the movie version of your life?
KW: I’d do it myself, not out of ego, but to spare someone else having to do the character work.
BW: You’d be fantastic I’m sure! Number 16. What’s the last book you read that changed your life?
KW: I read a lot and hopefully every book changes my life in some way. But to the spirit of your question, I’d say the last book that made me rethink and reevaluate how I thought about the world was “The War of Art.” That book said, more or less, “Get over yourself, get out of your own way and go make art, whatever kind you’re called to do.” It hit me at just the time I needed to get over myself and get out of my own way.
BW: Number 17. Who is someone who inspires you and why?
Artistically? Personally? Man, that’s tough to narrow down to just one. I’m one of those people that feel like there’s inspiration in many, many places if we keep our eyes open. And I’m certainly fortunate enough to have it in full supply every time I go to work right now. But that’s ducking your question, maybe. Or what you’re looking for. In the past, I might have tried to come up with some really lofty response, you know? Something really arty. But as I get a little more settled in my own skin and hopefully grasp a little bit of what really matters, I’m going to go with my dad. He’s a guy that when you strip him down to his core, I think he’s just trying to do the right thing, pretty much all the time. He just wants to do right by people and leave everything at least a little better than the way he found it and really, what more can you ask of anyone? And he’s an artist now too. He retired a few years ago and practically the first thing he did was start doing photography and now he has studio space and he’s selling his work and he has no idea how fearless and ridiculously cool it all is or how great he is at any of it; he just does what he does. He’s just a pure heart, you know? A good man. I like that.
BW: I like that answer. Probably one of the best yet to Question 17.