The theatre and dance department’s Fall 2016 production is “Cosi,” directed by theatre and dance department professor Al Schnupp. This series will follow the creation and production of “Cosi” and explore what making a student production is all about. Read the first installment here.
It’s an actor’s responsibility to bring the words of a script to life. With guidance from their directors, actors can create personas that move and enchant audiences. For many shows, the lead actor is a crucial part in completing this task.
“Cosi’s” leading man is math and theater sophomore Garrett Lamoureux, who plays the character of Lewis. Lewis is a college graduate granted the task of directing a play where his actors are patients in a mental hospital. Mustang News sat down with Lamoureux to talk about his passion for performing and the journey of becoming Lewis.
MN: When did you start acting?
GL: I started my sophomore year of high school, Rancho Buena Vista High School. We had three productions a year and I auditioned for the musical, which was “The Wedding Singer,” and got a role in the chorus.
MN: How is performing at Cal Poly different from performing in high school?
GL: I think the professionalism is greater here. In high school there are a lot of people who (act) because they have to; but in terms of doing it in college, everyone loves the craft. Everyone is so enthusiastic. It is like a family; everyone cares for each other.
MN: What made you want to continue acting?
GL: Mostly the process. I’m a really big fan of the process. Starting with nothing, starting with the script and building from auditions, to callbacks, getting a cast, blocking. I like the interacting with people, the cast, tech and the directors. I like the starting with nothing, putting on a show, deconstructing it, and then putting it back together, picking a new one.
MN: What is it like balancing two majors with the theatre work?
GL: It’s a lot of work. But it doesn’t seem like it, especially because I like both of them. I’m busy, but I like to keep busy. It is difficult but manageable. In the production side there is some crossover between the majors. When they have to make sets and you have to conceptualize what is going to work with the space that we have, and with finances there is a lot of that crossover between the two majors. (Along) with “Cosi” rehearsals, I am in 20 units. The rehearsals do take up a lot of time. I had to switch my schedule around going from class to homework to “Cosi.” My schedule is radically different and something you have to adjust to, but it is definitely worth it.
MN: What has your process been like for “Cosi” thus far?
GL: The process so far has been incredibly enjoyable. We have done a read-through of the show and blocking. With Al and the way he does blocking, we are starting to see these characters’ movements and how they interact. It is so fun to see it come to life. My process has been trying to find spatial relationships with other characters. It has been taking Al’s blocking and thinking about character choices and why my character would be in a certain place or talk to a certain person. It’s been really making me think of my character on a physical level.
MN: What has been the most difficult part of the process?
GL: Definitely the play within a play. That can be very difficult. You have an audience watching actors be an audience to a different stage. The struggle comes in how you block that. How do you choose moments where an actor has their back to the audience? How do you incorporate that and make it fluid? Al is really good at that, keeping it fluid. For me it’s a struggle of being an actor, being an actor. I am onstage as a character who then has to play another character. One minute I am in this opera and then I have to come out of this character and go seamlessly into Lewis’ character. It’s difficult to grasp it and differentiate your movements with the play within a play.
MN: How do you relate to your character?
GL: I think that I am very similar to Lewis in that Lewis is very calm-headed. He really is into his craft. I think that I connect with him in that way. He is trying to be a teacher. I think that the way I am different from him in some of the instances when he is on the edge of throwing in the towel. I think that I really try to work things out to the end.
MN: Who is your favorite character in the show?
GL: I love Roy. I love watching Daniel’s (sociology junior Daniel Cook) portrayal of Roy. He’s just such a fun character to watch. I think that him and Lewis are so contrasting in an artistic sense. Lewis is more about the production of the show within the show. Roy is very much the art and the craft. It’s everything he ever wanted and everything he ever dreamed. He’s this huge dreamer.
MN: What effect will this show have on your journey as an actor?
GL: This show works on a different level than the rest of the shows. I’ve never been in a show that has dealt with crazy people, asylum patients. It’s this whole idea of normalcy versus insanity. How you try to work with the patients and the characters that are more grounded. Where do you find normalcy in this crazy environment?
“Cosi” will premiere Thursday, Nov. 10. Lamoureux and his fellow cast members will bring to life the original script by Louis Nowra and elements of Mozart’s “Cosi Fan Tutte,” the play the mental patients scramble to put on.