Meet THE RESTING PLACE Cast: James Carpenter

Samuel Levit
Behind the Scenes
Oct 10, 2018

James Carpenter shares some insights into his character in THE RESTING PLACE along with the wonderful challenges the play offers.

Ashlin’s been working to develop this script with the entire team. What has it been like to have him in the room while you're working?”

It’s been truly splendid having Ashlin here. He’s very sensitive to the input all the actors have given him.  He listens, processes, and comes back to the table with edits, alterations, clarifications, additions that invariably make the show stronger.  It was vital to have him at the table and he’s been such a part of the rehearsal process that we all miss his presence.  He’s one of us.

James as Dave and Stacy Ross as Jackie at Magic, 2012. Photo by Jennifer Reiley.

Can you tell us a little about your character? What do you think is their best quality? Worst?

Mitch is a good guy—a salt of the earth, blue collar fellow.  A working man who’s built a business up from the bottom, a business he finds now teetering from the repercussions of his son's actions.  A man who, with his wife, now feels an outcast, a pariah, and who is enduring the incredible pressure from press and the community, a pressure which is beginning to cause some cracks in his facade.  He loves his children with all his heart but has two very different relationships with his daughters—his youngest is the diplomat, helping to smooth bumps in the family and the older daughter is the warrior, the Joan of Arc, whose stubborn will mirrors his own.  Every aspect of this man and this man's family has been challenged.  He has a flash point especially with Annie, the eldest, and has difficulty controlling his frustration at her blindness, at her deliberate wish to not see the truth of the situation, the full extent of the damage [his son] Travis caused, and lets his anger overwhelm him.

James Carpenter as Teach in AMERICAN BUFFALO at Aurora, 2014. Photo by David Allen.

What do you anticipate being the most challenging part of your journey towards performance, and which parts do you look forward to?”

Driving this piece the way it needs to be—finding those gear shifts from anger, fighting for a more neutral emotional battlefield.  Delineating those emotional dynamics so that we’re all not screaming at each other but instead walking a precarious fence of familial relationships.  Modulating these scenes—when do they accelerate, when can they ease a bit, soften, open up to a slower flow and then take off again when a button is pushed, the wrong words uttered.  There is a music to it that we are still defining and will continue to define, I’m sure, until we close.  I look forward to all of it, I dread it.  It’s a challenge and I love a challenge—be it a play, poem, any good writing, that makes me work, exercise my actor muscles, requires precision. And Ashlin’s play is good writing.

The part I dread?  It is, as an actor, very brutal emotional territory to walk on a nightly basis and it comes with a cost. You have to go there, you have to feel it.  All of us have experienced incredible tension in our bodies from this piece and this is something else we have to master and incorporate—relaxation inside of tension, a release of the emotional charge we accumulate during a performance. THE RESTING PLACE is particularly difficult in this respect.

Samuel Levit

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