Wednesday, August 16, 2006

INTERVIEW – DOUGLAS LAY

Douglas Lay is an actor who has returned to his San Diego homeland after many years working abroad. At 6 feet 5 inches this classically-trained actor doesn’t have to stretch to get roles. His hairline has migrated from his prominent upper forehead to those southern forests of follicles that sit closer to ear-line. His striking wisps of hair and physicality give him a strong advantage for certain character roles. At forty he’s entered the birth of his prime and he’s ready to act, direct and teach.

Cuauhtémoc Q. Kish (CQK): Word has it that you are a San Diego native?

Douglas Lay (DL): I was born and bred in San Diego, along with my other four siblings, including my older twin brother (by one and a half hours). My twin and I share Halloween as our birthday. Two out of the four still live in San Diego as does my father.

CQK: It was sad to hear that your mother recently passed.

DL: Yes; she died in my arms six weeks ago. Hers was the most exceptional spiritual experience in my life. She was my best friend and my biggest fan, having missed only two of my productions over the years.

CQK: After living abroad for many years—out of a suitcase—what brought you back?

DL: After living 16 years out of a very worn suitcase the death of my grandmother brought me back to San Diego where most of my immediate family still reside. I realized how important family is and that I was ready and willing to nest.

CQK: You are a product of the San Diego school system.

DL: I went to school at Del Mar Shores and then Bishops High School. Immediately after graduation I started acting in the Oregon Shakespearean Festival and eventually secured a B. A. from Oregon State University. Having won an acting award (four years running!) from the University allowed me to work exclusively at the Festival and play some 26 roles.

CQK: I assume you’ve auditioned for the Old Globe Theatre and their summer Shakespearean Festival?

DL: I seem to keep missing the cut.

CQK: Apart from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival you’ve also participated in many other touring “Shakespearean” shows.

DL: Yes; through Montana, Utah, and Idaho. I’m met amazing people along the way, many who have very little exposure to theatre, much less Shakespeare. In that respect, we always tried to make theatre more accessible to them. One production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream resembled the cast of “Dynasty.” Touring has allowed me to visit 36 states and has given me a greater appreciation for my own country.

CQK: You’ve worked outside the States for many years.

DL: I did extensive acting and touring in Europe: France, Germany and the United Kingdom.

CQK: What’s your preference: acting, directing, or teaching?

DL: Acting.

CQK: When did you get the acting bug?

DL: It hit hard at the age of 13 when I started doing Junior Theatre. Acting became for me an absolute passion, something I had to do.

CQK: How do you find time to take on film and theatre roles, as well as directing and teaching assignments?

DL: I accept assignments based upon my desire to do them. Although I’m an Equity actor money is always a secondary consideration over the role or directing assignment.

CQK: What’s your preference: film or theatre?

DL: They are two different animals. A film role is always one where you are encouraged to “hurry up and wait.” Then you do two minutes worth of work that may soon be lost to the cutting room floor. In the theatre it’s a bit different, with every night allowing you to move forward to discover your character’s consistent arc and happily discover it in sequence as well.

CQK: Congratulations on your latest success at the Sixth@Penn (Iphigenia). You’ve received glowing reviews from everyone.

DL: Thank you. Marianne McDonald is a brilliant mentor and premier translator. And Leigh Scarritt’s contribution added many levels to the chorus.

CQK: What’s your latest film project?

DL: It’s a film that Juan Carlo Luis wrote especially for me. In this one I play a Kentucky hick who visits Tijuana in a botched drug smuggling effort.

CQK: What classes are you currently offering the acting community?

DL: I’m in the process of putting together a class that will assist actors with the process of the audition. I’m a firm believer in having six monologues ready at any time, along with an updated resume and headshot.

CQK: Will you be working another project with Doctor Marianne McDonald?

DL: Yes; next up is Oristia. I’m currently lining up a dream cast. Then I’ll be directing Medea and Anna in the Tropics.

CQK: Name some of the productions that you were involved with in Europe.

DL: Hello Dolly, Into the Woods, Little Show of Horrors and Twelfth Night.

CQK: Any production you are dying to do?

DL: I’ve advised my agent that I will accept any audition from “Noise From Within” if it’s ever offered; I respect their work so much.

CQK: What’s the most important thing you’ve learned from acting?

DL: To be honest about yourself and not to date anyone in the business.

CQK: Describe yourself in three words.

DL: I’m passionate, kind and bookish.

CQK: What do you bring to San Diego Theatre?

DL: An extensive classical background.

CQK: What was your childhood ambition?

DL: To be a priest; and after that, an actor.

CQK: Who are the people who have influenced your career in a positive way?

DL: Mom and actors like Paxton White and Carol Burnette.

CQK: What do you see as possible obstacles to your success?

DL: Myself and being in San Diego.

CQK: What’s a perfect day for you?

DL: A rainy day; a book, my cat, a fire in the hearth, a show, and friends.

CQK: What’s your biggest indulgence?

DL: Reading.

CQK: At the end of the day, what does the word accomplishment mean to you?

DL: Being satisfied with a job well done; being satisfied with my performance.

CQK: What’s your favorite theatrical word?
DL: Tactic: how you get motivated by a script; how it is illuminated.

CQK: What’s your favorite theatrical work?

DL: Midsummer Night’s Dream.

CQK: If you made the wrong turn and ended up facing the devil at the end of your life and career, what would you say to her?

DL: I think I’ve worked with you a few times.

CQK: Robert Frost summed up everything he learned in life with three words: “it goes on.” Can you sum it up for us as succinctly as Frost?

DL: I can do it but in five words: love is all there is.”

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