Third-year Hilberry theatre manager Jeffrey Cotnoir recently sat down with with first-year Hilberry actor Edmund Alyn Jones. They chatted about first impressions, life in Detroit, and Edmund’s upcoming performance as the title character in the Hilberry productions of Richard III.
JC: You’ve been at the Hilberry for almost a month now, how is it going?
EJ: It feels like home. Each moment in class, and interaction with everyone here from the undergraduates, to the university staff, to the faculty, everyone’s been very kind and open to me. It feels like this is what I am supposed to be doing.
JC: You are from Detroit. Are you thinking of staying here after graduation?
EJ: I am at a point in my life where I try not to make too many plans. I trust that my destiny will unfold. However, I would love to work in London, and at Stratford, because Shakespeare’s works are near and dear to my heart. So, yes and no. This will always be home base.
JC: What was it about the Hilberry program that attracted you?
EJ: Sounds crazy, but the hours; I wanted to immerse myself in theatre. The compensation is outstanding as well. There was also good word of mouth about the place.
JC: It is your first year in grad school and you landed the huge responsibility of playing Richard in Richard III. Are you excited, nervous or both?
EJ: Both! I am so humbled and honored to be trusted with this. I know that I will have to continue to put a lot of work into this role until closing night–that’s the only way to cure the nerves. I’ll be sure to bring the excitement with me to the stage.
JC: Do you have a favorite role or play that you have been involved with?
EJ: Hands down Mercutio! (Romeo’s manic friend), though Richard may eclipse that soon.
JC: What are your thoughts on the cultural diversity of the Hilberry Company and the city of Detroit?
EJ: The Hilberry obviously got a bit more diverse with me! (laughs) I think we have to remember that even our “white” members are culturally diverse in this program. We have individuals from Iowa, and Rhode Island; Catholic, and Jewish members, and I think we often forget that diversity is more than just skin color. Detroit is monochromatic in spots, but Midtown is one of the most diverse places I’ve known. I love living in the campus area.
JC: What do you hope to accomplish while you are a part of the Hilberry program?
EJ: I hope to see a more diverse subscriber base. I hope to inspire young black actors to reach for something like this. I hope I can bring my heart and vulnerability to the stage and move people to wake up a little and enjoy life with more intensity.
JC: Is there a person or thing that continues to inspire you?
EJ: The Present; the gifts from being in the moment, and being open. You’d be surprised by who you meet, what you learn, and how much energy you have when you just find inner stillness, put your ego on the back burner, and be where you are. I try to live each moment as my last, so I want to be fully awake for each of them. This has thoroughly enriched my life when I’ve accomplished this on a daily basis–it is a true source of inspiration.
You can catch Edmund as ‘Richard’ in the Hilberry’s production of Richard III opening November 19, 2010.
Please call the box office to reserve your tickets, (313) 577-2972, or visit us on the web at www.wsushows.com.