Meet the OEDIPUS EL REY Cast: Esteban Carmona

Kate Leary
Behind the Scenes
Jun 11, 2019

In our first interview for OEDIPUS EL REY, Esteban Carmona tells us about how he got into acting, his favorite roles, and working with Method Man.

Can you tell us a little about your character? What do you think is their best quality? Worst?
Oedipus is a raw force. There were certain things he had to learn being raised in prison, which makes him more and more powerful. The beautiful thing about him is that even with a tough exterior, he's so spiritually aware and emotionally intelligent. It's one of his best qualities. He can read people so well and see right through any facades they attempt to embody. His worst quality is his unchecked ego. He really thinks he can defy the gods, but that process itself is what makes the prophecy come true.
What is your favorite line in Oedipus el Rey (it doesn’t have to be yours)?
Esfinge's line: "Prison may have set you free, but freedom will imprison you forever."
How does it feel stepping into a contemporary adaptation of such and iconic Greek play and myth?  How has it affected your process?
It's beautiful to see how Luis Alfaro was able to take a classic Greek Tragedy, and turn it into a digestible yet politically charged contemporary play. It creates an amazing balance of heightened language with reality. If anything, it makes the process much more tangible and relatable.
Photo by Jorden Charley-Whatley
What has been the most challenging part of your journey towards performance, and which parts do you look forward to?
The most challenging part of this process was finding the balance between Oedipus' raw honesty and his tough exterior. There are things that happen to Oedipus that are incredibly unbearable. There are so many layers; trying to be a tough kid but not being able to hold up that facade. It's an emotional roller coaster for sure, and by the end of the show, i'm exhausted. I look forward to that feeling where i can barely think, move, or respond because I've left everything on that stage. The more exhausted I am after the show, the more I know I've done justice to Oedipus' journey.
How did you get into acting - what was your first gig?
It was actually a mix-up. I originally wanted to be a dancer and singer. I went to an audition for the Academy of Performing Arts in my high school. They ended up bringing me to the wrong room, which turned out to be the acting audition. I found out half way through that we weren't dancing. The instructor, knowing that I wasn't prepared to do a monologue, gave me an umbrella to use for an improv scene. I stepped on that stage and created something that changed the course of my life. I felt something I had never felt before, and it flowed out of me. Something clicked and I couldn't stop. There was nothing else in the world that I could think about doing. My first professional job was a cyber bullying documentary in high school. I was a little nervous but it was so incredibly fulfilling. I also knew I was speaking up on something that was a very serious issue.
What’s the performance you’re proudest of in your career so far, and what roles would you like to perform in the future?
My proudest role in my career (other than Oedipus) is Julito in HBO's The Deuce. It was a role that was only intended to have two episodes. The writer and the producers liked what I gave life to and wrote me an additional five episodes. The depth of the content got deeper and deeper and I felt myself able to sink into that character like never before. I learned a lot for sure, especially from the people I was fortunate enough to work with.
What have you seen/read (shows, concerts, movies, books, art) lately that really spoke to you or changed you?
I recently saw The Jungle at The Curran in San Francisco. There are too many things about that show to put into words, but the state I was in should be telling enough. I couldn't speak. I couldn't even move after the curtain call. I was crying so hard it hurt. This is a show that brings to light things that most people don't ever realize. We live in a world where it's so easy to hide from the horrific tragedies until they happen to you. Yet you don't realize people are being separated from their parents left and right, while we sit here complaining that we ordered over medium eggs, not over easy.

Do you have any funny or exciting stories from previous productions? Goofs, triumphs, unexpected connections?
Yes! On the set of The Deuce, I was fortunate enough to work with Method Man. He's probably one of the funniest people I've met. We're sitting in our places before they start shooting footage, and they tell us these three other actors are going to be walking up to us. When they hit a certain spot is when the first line gets delivered and we take the scene from there. Well Meth immediately says, "Aw ya'll done f**ked up givin' me time to improv." We all started cracking up but didn't really know what he meant. They call action and before the other actors hit their mark, Meth turns to me and says aloud, "People are using all the wrong ingredients for heroin. You know what you need to try? Rocket fuel! That s**t will make you feel like..." I don't remember the rest of what he said cause i couldn't stop laughing. Every other take we did, he had something different and equally hysterical to say.

What has it been like to have Luis in the room while you're working?
Luis has done some really incredible work. It's honestly an honor to be able to bring one of those works to life. Having the writer in the room would normally make me a little nervous, but Luis has such a gentle heart. He taught us a lot about the dramaturgy of the play while describing what's happening underneath the surface of the play. He was also making edits while we were doing table work, so it really felt like we were creating something together.
Photo by Jorden Charley-Whatley
Kate Leary

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