|Wyatt Fenner, right, and William Francis McGuire in the Pacific Playwrights Festival reading of Samuel D. Hunter's The Few.|
Looking back to his arts-immersed childhood in Washington, D.C., actor Wyatt Fenner now acknowledges that a rabbit may have drawn him into acting.
While on a trip to the library with his mother, he saw a children’s theatre poster for The Velveteen Rabbit.
“I couldn’t read yet, but I recognized the image of the rabbit on the hilltop, with its ears flopped to the side,” Fenner recalls. He knew the story and image from audio cassettes his family listened to in their car.
|Fenner in James and the Giant Peach.|
He told his mother that’s what he wanted to do, but he was still too young. So, a few years later—at age seven—he auditioned for a production of Sleeping Beauty and earned a role. “I just got wrapped up in it and haven’t stopped since. Theatre just speaks to me. Acting speaks to me.”
As a young actor, he found that the D.C.-area gave him plenty of opportunities to learn his art, and he worked with “some incredible people and theatre companies.” A fond memory is being part of Ford Theatre’s A Christmas Carol production when he portrayed one of the Cratchit children.
Fenner is becoming a well-known face to South Coast Repertory audiences. He is featured next as Ken in the world premiere of Samuel D. Hunter’s Rest. Last season, he was in Hunter’s The Whale. Fenner also has appeared in Shaw’s Misalliance, in the Pacific Playwrights Festival readings of The Few and Happy Face, the NewSCRipts reading of Spirit Control and the Theatre for Young Audiences productions of James and the Giant Peach and The Borrowers.
“I love to be surrounded by other intelligent, artistic people,” he says. “SCR is like that—about how we can make the world better by talking about things, exploring ideas.”
Sam Hunter’s play Rest is an SCR commission and written when SCR produced Hunter’s The Whale in the 2012-13 season. Hunter wrote the part of Ken for Fenner, who took part in its first reading on the day at The Whale opened at SCR.
“I got the play [Rest] and I fell in love with what Sam had written,” Fenner says.
|Fenner and Helen Sadler in Samuel D. Hunter's The Whale.|
Fenner says Hunter has made an impact on his work as an actor.
“He’s become a really good friend, an artist whom I admire and someone who has influenced my way of thinking and my life as a theatre artist,” Fenner says. “Sometimes people come up in your life and profoundly impact you—Sam’s had that effect on me.
“Something I think is beautiful about the play is Sam’s profound ability to present us with where we are—not necessarily where you think you’d like to be,” Fenner continues. “You will experience what these characters are feeling and going through as only theatre can let you do. Sam has given us the chance to share so much through this play. It will give you a lot to think about that will remain with you for years.”
|Fenner, Melanie Lora, Dakin Matthews and Amelia White in Misalliance.|
“Whatever I’m working on becomes such a huge part of me that I have really special relationship with every project that I engage in,” he explains, by way of not being able to name just one favorite production or project. “I really do appreciate the exploration that comes with every single part I play. It’s what’s in front of me and what my character engages with, it gives me a huge amount of experience to get to investigate every single one of them.”
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