Q&A with Robert Forster
Transcribed By: Angelina Coppola
Robert Forster, from films such as The Descendants and Jackie Brown, granted WordTheatre a special interview before his performance of “Slate Mountain” by T.C. Boyle. Having worked with WordTheatre since its inception in 2003, and working with Artistic Director, Cedering Fox, before that, Robert Forster offers insight into why WordTheatre is a gig he keeps coming back to.
I: What keeps bringing you back to WordTheatre?
RF: It’s a good gig. You know the actor only lives for those moments when he has something to deliver, and this gives you two, three days of preparations. So they’re all working gigs, each time you confront the material, and then when you go do it for an audience. So, it’s what you do.
I: How is it a good gig if there’s no money involved?
RF: You know, it’s worth its weight in the kind of things that you work for: self-respect, satisfaction, things that give to you, and this does.
I: What is the value for you to do WordTheatre?
RF: Well, there is always value. You do here and there. You give away a day of work to somebody who is just starting out, who has no money, or has a project with no dough, and needs you. And if I like the work, I’ll do it, and these are great stories. She always brings to the table great stuff. I cannot tell you all of the things I have read for Cedering, but they’re all terrific. She hand picks material in the interest of, or the quality of, the speaker or the reader.
I: Have you felt a particular connection to this story? How would you ‘weigh in’?
RF: You know, what you read on paper, when you’re reading out of the book there are clues, visual clues, to who’s speaking and who’s referring to what and there’s punctuation that helps you. There’s dashes that let you know a thought is now being held while you talk about something else, and then come back to that thought. None of these things are available to you when you’re up in front of an audience. So, one of the things that I noticed immediately is that this writer has great facility for words and ideas, and jumps off one to deal with another and then comes back to it, and you’ve got to do that. So there’s a little challenge in it.
I: You’ve got to keep the connection.
RF: You’ve got to keep the connection. You hopefully have to keep it in mind sufficient so that the audience understands areas they drop off and then a pick-up. Those kind of little things, those are things that are challenges. But the material is also simple for a man who likes women and who enjoys this fellow’s caring about the woman that he married. It’s the last line of the story. Sil, the old lady I’m married to, or the old lady I married, and what something else about it? In just a very few brief moments of conversation between the two of them, you get a relationship that exists. It’s just a few snippets of conversation between them. Because mostly, he is speaking third person self and so all of the description is from him. And that was my first question, is this meant to be the author’s voice and then the fellow’s voice, only when he’s speaking, but I decided that every bit of description was his own. It was all self. It is the self that he is inside and wondering and thinking and talking to himself. As I do.
I: So do I.
RF: I talk out loud sometimes. People say who’s he talking to? But I’m an only child so, I come by it naturally.