The Woman in Black to open this weekend at PTC with special Master Class taught by visiting actor Mark Chambers

Penobscot Theatre Company is thrilled to open its production of The Woman in Black.  This two person show features local actor Brad LaBree and visiting artist Mark Chambers.  As part of PTC’s expansion of Dramatic Academy, a Master Class lead by Mark Chambers focusing on “Creating a Character” will also be available to teens and adults to celebrate opening weekend.  This class will be held at the Bangor Opera House Saturday, October 19th from 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

“Mark has called San Francisco home for the last few decades, while traveling around the country as an actor and singer. He has performed regularly upon the wicked stage since the age of 8 when he made his debut in the Memphis Childrens Theatre production of The Wizard of Oz, as one of 50 flying monkeys, and he has been smitten with the stage ever since. Mark has appeared in drama, comedy, musicals and operettas for theatres such as Actors Theatre of Louisville, Portland Center Stage in Oregon, American Stage, Hippodrome Theatre, Seaside Music Theatre,  Charleston Stage, Florida Repertory Theatre, Orpheum Theatre in Memphis, Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, Yerba Buena Gardens in San Francisco and Playhouse on the Square. Favorite roles include Truman Capote in Tru, Sigmund Freud in Hysteria, Uncle Charlie in August: Osage County, all roles in Santaland Diaries, I Am My Own Wife, The Tale of Two Cities,  Hedwig and the Angry Inch,  Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest and Frank N Furter in The Rocky Horror Show. Mark has sung with the London Symphony Pops and on CD with the swiss group MGY. Mark was honored by the Florida Theatre Conference for outstanding theatrical work in 2006,  and with the key to the city of Memphis by Mayor Hackett. Recent films include Baby Jane? and I Want to Get Married.

Despite being one of two actors in the show and it being the week of opening, Mark generously took some time to answer a few questions for us. Here’s what he had to say…

You currently reside in San Francisco, though have traveled the country performing. Is this your first time in performing in Maine?  What have you found interesting about Bangor and its community?

“Yes, this is my first time in Maine. I have never been this far north and east before.

I find it to be a very interesting place. The neighborly ways are very charming and encouraging. I’ve seen all manner of people from different walks of life, sit at communal tables and be friendly and courteous and chatting each other up. The small town feel, is overshadowed by this great pouring of humanity to each other that make it seem more metropolitan. In almost any place I’ve ever been, including San Francisco, there is an element of , “We don’t have that here”, or “Things would be better if I lived somewhere else”. I find that many folks seem to be very contented and proud of Bangor, and the ways and means of daily life overlapping with a community. There seems to be a community feels. its great when someone says, oh “The Penobscot”, we have season tickets, we go to pay what you wish nite , I volunteer and take tickets so i can see the plays. So many angles and there is civic pride that is palpable.”

In The Woman in Black you play multiple roles. How do you approach building various characters at the same time?

“In any play, whether you play one role or all the roles. it all begins with the script and the source of the story being told. In this piece, there are hints and clues to the type of person each character is. Building a multi-role “track”–which is such an ugly word for the work we do, has to start with what resonates first. Which voice will be more appropriate to which role, how to distinquish between the physicalities of each, the tone, the costuming, the directors point of view. In this Bari has one of my larger role characters with a bad eye and a hint of disfigurement. That is great to build on. Then another is tighter stricter carriage of body, another a more vivid physicality. it really depends on staying in focus of the characters and how they relate to the other character.”

The Woman in Black was recently produced as a feature film. How does that impact you as an actor? Do you see the film?  Does the fact that it exists influence you in any way?

The fact that it has been made into a feature film, encourages me that people are interested in the story line. It doesn’t impact me personally, as the films, there were 2,and the early 1989 version is so much better storytelling than the Daniel Radcliff version, but the films as well as this play are “based” on the novel. And there are different approaches,even between the two films.

I saw both the films. As an actor, it is perfectly fine to see, to steal, to remember , to pay homage to not only the films, but the television and stage productions of the same material. It gives you a wider swath to consider the many choices that were made to make each specific point their own story.the movie didn’t influence me that much. they were both very different takes on the source material.”

The Woman in Black is based on a horror novella, therefore the script is quite language driven. In what ways do you work with text?

The language. The glorious language. It’s like taking a class in English. The punctuation on this is very smartly written, though not very friendly to memorize. The rhythm is built into the language, with each comma, dash, the use of “and” between words instead of a comma. One must always read the words as written and to learn to act on the word and not on the spaces between, unless given that space as a dash, or a playwrights use of pause. the wordage in this is tricky. Part of that is to achieve the atmosphere, and the setting in England. The descriptive passage help to use the imagination to color the words to build a non- existent place in your minds eye.”

Why do you feel that live theater is an important artistic medium?

As a person who is passionate about the theatre, and one who regards the work that goes into performing live, i encourage the arts, especially live. There is no other medium that is as immediate. This isn’t film, which I’ve done a few, you can do take after take and the editor creates your train of thought. Same as in tv, they can re -do. But in live theatre, in performance, you get that chance to share the same air of excitement as the audience. to create before the very eyes of the attendee, any number of possibilities that might cause one to ponder, dream, gasp, laugh, cry, reach out to touch your neighbors hand. A place where for that relatively short time all the folks are breathing the same air and experiencing the “timely arts”.

To register for class with Mark, please visit the Education tab on our website or email Director of Education Jasmine Ireland

The Woman in Black will be at the Bangor Opera House October 17 – November 3. Get your tickets today by visiting our website or calling 942-3333.  We‘ll see you at the theater!