THE CAST: Allan Miller, Kim Staunton, Larry Powell and Christian Barillas.
Life seldom moves forward exactly as we plan—and it throws curves at us that we sometimes don’t anticipate. Rachel Bonds’ Curve of Departure looks at those life curves in a warm and surprisingly funny family drama that catches four people at a crossroads in their lives as they gather before the funeral of a man that three of them loved, but didn’t like. The tight-knit cast members all have SCR connections—as veterans of productions here or with the Pacific Playwrights Festival reading of Bonds’ play.
NAME: Christian Barillas
My role in Curve of Departure: Jackson
My previous SCR credits: Amadeus, Peter and the Starcatcher, A Christmas Carol and The Motherf**ker with the Hat (Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award nomination).
My other credits include: Romeo & Juliet and Richard III (Utah Shakespeare Festival), Pride and Prejudice and Twelfth Night (Oregon Shakespeare Festival), Lydia (Yale Repertory Theatre and Denver Center for the Performing Arts), A Noise Within, Antaeus Theatre Company, Laguna Playhouse, Center Theatre Group, Cornerstone Theater Company, Pasadena Playhouse, “Modern Family” (as Ronaldo opposite Nathan Lane), “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “The Bridge,” “Marvel’s “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” “Without a Trace.”
Jackson is: An outsider to the family nucleus. His partner's father has recently died and he's encouraged him to attend the funeral, despite the strained relationship they experienced. Jackson is there in support of his partner, but also dealing with some recent trauma that occurred within his own family, which has a long history of addiction and abuse. In the midst of his boyfriend's family's crisis, he's facing a big decision about the future of his family nucleus and his life.
What drew me to the theatre: I was curious to explore different facets of life through the stories we tell. And I have to tell you that experiencing theatre as an audience member began late in life for me. I'm endlessly fascinated by human behavior, relationships and interaction. Exploring that for a living and also expressing and living through those experiences for myself is enormously gratifying.
The moment I knew I wanted to be an actor: Coming from Guatemala, the idea of pursuing it as a career was ludicrous. A possibility like that simply didn't exist in my growing up, so it wasn't until college in the U.S. that I summoned the courage to fully commit to that dream. It took encouragement and validation from someone that was casting professional shows in New York. I will always remember and be grateful for Jonathan Howle.
The play that had a lasting impression on me is: Kiss of the Spiderwoman. I saw it at TheatreWorks in Palo Alto. As someone who had grown up in oppressive and volatile political environments, I connected viscerally to the characters' struggles and their culture. That production was immensely impactful for me and, strangely, Spiderwoman came back around a few years later when I was cast in a college production. That's where I met Jonathan Howle, who was a recent alumnus coming back to school as a guest director.
Working on a new play for me is: Thrilling! I have some of my most rewarding experiences in the theatre from new works including Joe Schmoe Saves the World. I absolutely love the process of discovering something that hasn't been done before. It requires a different kind of attention and it demands asking a different set of questions because nothing is taken for granted, no stone is left unturned. I pride myself in having good dramaturgical skills and I like supporting a playwright's vision and voice. As the play's initial interpreter, I sense a deeper responsibility to honor the writer's intention and I'm excited to work with them in the room.
I had an inspirational artistic moment when: I recently directed a workshop production at Indiana University of a new musical by Brett Ryback called Joe Schmoe Saves the World. I've been helping develop it as its director for a few years. I'm deeply inspired by Brett's music, his characters and the story he's telling. The story deals with the 2011 Arab Spring. When the chair of the university's Middle Eastern studies department came to see our first presentation, she enjoyed it so much that she gave money to the drama department to become a partnering sponsor of the production. Sharing this musical with an audience for the first time and seeing their reaction has fueled us to keep pushing it forward.
The last book I read that made me laugh or cry: Francisco Stork’s Disappeared—it was wonderful. When asked that kind of question, I also often think of The Kite Runner, which I read years ago—that one really got me.
My literary hero is: Holden Caulfield. I relate to him a lot and love what he ultimately was trying to save, to catch. In terms of theatrical literature, I feel like I always carry with me a little of the characters I've played. You fight for these characters' dreams and, in turn, you fight for something within yourself too. Romeo, Cousin Julio... those were special.
NAME: Allan Miller
My role in Curve of Departure: Rudy
My previous SCR credits: Brooklyn Boy by Donald Margulies.
My other credits include: More than 300 films, television productions and plays, among them Awake and Sing by Clifford Odets (Odyssey Theatre), Broadway Bound (Odyssey Theatre, La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts), “Silicon Valley,” Bad Words.
Rudy is: A man who needs to protect life. He also has a great urgent need to be an icon. And he loves being mischievous!
What drew me to acting was: A sign that said “Actors Wanted.” It was 1946 and I was in the army in post-war Japan, driving a Jeep in the freezing boondocks outside Tokyo. The army was looking for people to go into special services and I thought “Anything is better than freezing in this Jeep.”
I knew I wanted to be an actor: When I returned to college, after what I’d experienced in the war, I couldn’t study; academics just couldn’t hold me. I met up with an old army buddy and he told me he was going to acting school, so I went along to see what it was all about. I was drawn to the camaraderie, the freedom of expression that I found there; it was so palpable that I enrolled. This was the Dramatic Workshop [at the New School for Social Research] run by Erwin Piscator, the man who taught epic theatre to Bertolt Brecht and who commissioned Robert Penn Warren to write All the King’s Men. We premiered that play at the school, using only students in the production. The whole experience was a powerhouse.
The play that had a lasting impression on me: Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. It just burst through for me—Miller writing about the Salem witch hunt was his answer to [Sen. Joseph] McCarthy’s activities in that era. There I was, watching theatre do that in such an exciting and vivid way. It thrilled the hell out of me and everyone in the theatre that night. It showed me the power of what theatre could do: to awaken, to inspire, to force you to think, to take action. It was terrific.
Why I like working on a Curve of Departure: I love it when a play like this one comes along and excites me and moves me; there’s the humanity of it, a yearning to it and the will that’s needed to move oneself out of despair and into swinging away at life.
What recently inspired me artistically: Clifford Odets’ play, Awake and Swing, which is an old play but just as passionately, fervently up-to-date as anything you could imagine. I was in it two years ago at the Odyssey Theatre and couples visiting L.A. from Europe and Asia would come and tell us, “That’s my family!” The play is so human about the family’s struggle each day just to get by.
The last book I read that made me laugh: Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. I just finished reading it, again, and it made me chuckle over and over.
NAME: Larry Powell
My role in Curve of Departure: Felix
My previous SCR credits: The Pacific Playwrights Festival reading of Curve of Departure.
My other credits include: Peter in Evanston Salt Costs Climbing (Ojai Playwrights Conference); Rexy/Jason in The Legend of Georgia McBride (Geffen Playhouse); originated the role of Associate Pastor Joshua in Lucas Hnath’s The Christians (Humana Festival of New American Plays, Playwrights Horizons and Mark Taper Forum); world premiere of Theresa Rebeck’s new play, Seared (San Francisco Playhouse); and Homer in Father Comes Home From the Wars (Center Theatre Group, Ovation Award nomination); Martin Luther King Jr. in The Mountaintop (L.A. Theatre Works and Actors Theatre of Louisville); four seasons at the Obie Award-winning The Fire This Time Festival.
Felix is: A complicated young man. His grandfather Rudy says to Felix, “You were always such a nervous little kid.” The grand nature of life may be too much for Felix to bear and he is faced with some immediate choices that he has to make in order to save the relationships that mean the world to him. He has a lot of thinking to do.
What drew me to acting: I was acting at an early age in the family living room, using our fireplace hearth as the stage—my younger sister and I as “The Larry and Shannon Show.” In seventh grade, I transferred from public school to a private school that had awesome arts classes. But I was rebellious. When I didn’t do the assignment to pick a monologue for class, the teacher fished out a book, tossed it to me and said “Start reading where it says ‘Walter Lee.’” It was Raisin in the Son and I started reading. It gave me a charged sense of storytelling.
The play that had a lasting impression on me is: Other Desert Cities by John Robin Baitz. There’s just something in his writing that really moved me.
Why I like working on new plays: The challenge inspires me—to build a character arc, to put a heartbeat to words on the page and then to put that in front of an audience. There’s an immediacy and a freshness to creating a character from scratch. The majority of my work is in new plays, like creating the role of Associate Pastor Joshua in Lucas Hnath’s The Christians at the Humana Festival—which is where I met Rachel Bonds! There’s something about the collaborative process for a new play and working with incredibly gifted actors, writers and directors that I find energizing. This type of work is probably the graduate program of my life.
My literary and artistic heroes: Writers James Baldwin and Maya Angelou. And I am moved beyond words by anything that actor Mark Rylance does; I look up to him.
NAME: Kim Staunton
My role in Curve of Departure: Linda
Learn more and purchase tickets to Curve of Departure.
My previous SCR credits: Death of a Salesman (2013); The Piano Lesson.
My other credits include: Work on and off-Broadway and at regional theatres (such as Indiana Repertory Theatre, Ebony Repertory Theatre, Center Theatre Group/Kirk Douglas Theatre, Portland Stage Company, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Pittsburgh Public Theatre, Folger Theatre, Arena Stage, Hartford Stage Company and the O’Neill Theatre Center), Changing Lanes, Deceived, Glory & Honor, “Army Wives,” “Bones,” “Law & Order.”
Linda is: A loving, tough, strong, caring mom and daughter. However, while in the midst of transition and a crossroads, her generosity, care and grace to family first find her suppressing and shielding her own needs and emotions.
What drew me to acting: I was drawn to the theatre as a result of a ninthth-grade junior high school elective class in drama. Once I discovered my passion for theatre, and with encouragement and support from my drama and English teacher, Mrs. Eunice McCorkle, I was well on my way, and 36 years later, everything else is history. After continued study and attending an arts high school as a drama major, in Washington, D.C., I knew, for sure, that I was going to pursue acting.
The play that changed my life: Playing Mama Nadi in Ruined by Lynn Nottage (Denver Center for the Performing Arts, 2011). That was a tour-de-force, modern-day Mother Courage role that allowed me to be the conduit for important and profound storytelling. I got to tap into a character's passion, toughness, rage, vulnerability and tenderness.
Working on a new play for me is: Exciting, because as an actor, I am part of a creative process and development of the work as it evolves, grows and changes. I have a special charge and honor to support the playwright in his or her process and storytelling.