23 November 2011
I did this interview for a new interview series on the School of Theatre website at FSU. The interviews are only up for a week, so mine has been replaced now by someone else, and I figured I'd post the interview here.
Name: Aaron C. Thomas
Position in School of Theatre: PhD Candidate in Theatre Studies
Hometown: Los Angeles CA
1. How did you get your start in theatre?
Well, in high school, the drama class met at zero period, which was, I think, at some god-awful hour like 7.00a or somesuch. I was having none of that. And anyway I was already a big ol’ nerd, so hanging out with drama kids wasn’t exactly going to make me look any cooler. So I didn’t take classes in theatre in high school. But when I was a junior this very attractive senior (his name was Ali if you must know), told me that he was auditioning for the Christian drama club and that I should too. I obviously auditioned. I got in, but of course Ali never auditioned; so I ended up performing Everyman in Lutheran churches (seriously) and my dreams of spending time with my attractive friend were dashed. In college I was an Accounting major for two years, but transferred to Theatre Arts because I found it to be much more difficult than Business Administration.
2. What is the best performance you have ever seen OR what is the craziest thing that has happened to you during a performance?
Best performance I’ve ever seen? How can anyone even answer this? I have a couple, I guess. I saw Faye Dunaway play Maria Callas in Terrence McNally’s Master Class in 1996 and we just kept applauding. We clapped through seven curtain calls. No lie. It was a brilliant performance. I’ll also never forget Julie Taymor’s production of Flying Dutchman at Los Angeles Opera. And… we did The Rocky Horror Show here a couple years ago and I might’ve gone three times.
3. If you could have any career outside of theatre, what would it be and why?
I’d be doing humanitarian work. Advocating for imprisoned populations seems particularly attractive to me right now. The amount of injustice that surrounds the prison system in this country especially when it comes to the treatment of men of color is extraordinary to me. Actually, I sometimes think about leaving everything and going and doing humanitarian work anyway. But I admit: I’m old and bourgeois and have a mortgage and things now. I may yet…
4. What inspires you in your free time/ what do you do for fun?
I watch movies. As many as possible. Before I came to graduate school I used to watch something like six or seven movies a week. I watch a lot fewer now, but I keep a movie-blog, and I am obsessed with the Oscars – I’ve memorized all kinds of useless trivia about them. Also, I’m all about cooking.
5. What brought you to Florida State?
FSU is a Research One university, and when I got accepted here I immediately decided I would go. Because I had been a fairly lazy undergraduate student (most of my students now are way better than I ever was as an undergrad) I felt excited that FSU even accepted me. I have to give credit to Mary Karen Dahl for seeing past my ridiculous record and believing in me despite it.
6. If you could give an aspiring theatre artist any piece of advice, what would it be?
Jeff Calhoun once said to me that “just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do it.” I’ve always kept this in my mind. No one should be producing theatre just to do it. Really though, I probably don’t know anything. I was saying to a friend the other day that my only goals when making art are to try to avoid clichés and to remember that I am not there to teach anybody anything: I do not believe that the theatre is a classroom.
7. Wild Card Question: If you were a super hero, who would would you be and why?
I would definitely be one of the X-Men. I tend to be a little psychic, so I’d probably be some kind of telepath. Jean Grey? She was kinda fierce.