Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Conservatory Student Returns for World Premiere

Phillip Vaden doesn’t appear on stage until the very end of In a Garden. But he’s one of the first to arrive at the theatre.

Before each performance, he likes to walk out onto the set, survey the empty seats and recite a few lines. It helps him settle into character and prepare for the moment he comes back out to perform for an audience full of people.

Vaden, who plays a U.S. Army captain, sat down after rehearsal to talk about his days in SCR’s Professional Conservatory – including some tricks he learned from teacher Karen Hensel – and why he has a new biggest fan.

How does it feel to be acting at SCR after graduating from its Professional Conservatory?
It’s good to be back. Everything I have done here before has been on the Segerstrom Stage. I am really excited to be performing in a more intimate setting this time around.

How did you originally hear about the adult acting classes at SCR?
I was born and raised in a small farm town in Texas. My older brother, Travis Vaden, came out to California first to take lessons at SCR’s adult conservatory. He was always telling me if I wanted to move out here and act, it was the best way to learn a lot and gain experience if I worked hard enough to impress. Sure enough, SCR hired both of us to do Two Gentlemen of Verona in 2003 after graduating from the conservatory.

Any funny stories from your conservatory days you’d like to share?
When I was in class with Karen Hensel she made a point to teach you to work with different types of directors. Every day she would come in pretending to be a different director who either had an outrageous personality or no personality. She really prepared me to be able to work with all kinds of people. Auditioning is also easier now thanks to the techniques she shared.

You have a best friend, U.S. Army captain Scott Thornbury, who has done tours in Iraq. Has he changed the way you view or play your role as a U.S. Army Captain in In a Garden?
I want to ask the playwright, Howard Korder, if I could change the name of my character to Scott. I don’t want to overstep my boundaries though. I have put several Scott nuances into my character thus far. Scott thinks it is awesome. I am so glad he is in the States so I can use him as a resource. The conservatory really taught me to not to let these invaluable opportunities to gather information pass me by. I really think you perform better by taking a little bit of that person on stage with you.

How does In a Garden differ from anything else you have done?
In a Garden
is solidly about personal relationships. There is no side-line pageantry. No comedic machinery. It is about two people’s visions and egos clashing. Who knew two people battling it out could be so delightful to watch! Howard is such a brilliant writer…but that’s no secret.

Do you prefer acting on stage, film or TV?
I would love to do theater all the time! Unfortunately, the money is not as good as doing television work. Sitcoms are great because you have the best of both worlds. You still get to perform in front of a live audience.

Who is your biggest fan?
Well, it used to be my mom, but since I got married I think it is my wife, Erin…Or at least I hope she is. We got married last June, and she always comes with me to all kinds of events. She will hopefully be my opening night date from here on out.

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