This is going to be a busy week for the Q-Blog as we lead in to the opening of The Golden Dragon. Get ready for multiple posts and videos to build the excitement, starting with….an interview with Mark Conway Thompson.
Mark Conway Thompson performed on Broadway, in Europe and in South America as an actor, dancer and mime before settling in Pittsburgh. He has a strong commitment to movement theater, a preference for theatre which contributes significantly to the cultural dialogue, and a love of good collaborations. Among his favorite experiences have been Bricolage’s recent Dutchman, City Theater’s Our Country’s Good, Jewish Theater of Pittsburgh’s The Chosen, Saints & Poets Theater’s The Late Henry Moss, barebones production’s Glengarry Glen Ross, numerous performances with Pittsburgh Playwrights’ Theater Company (especially the Theater Festival in Black & White), and several Quantum productions – The Grand Meaulnes, The Task, and The Howling Miller. Mr. Thompson also teaches; theatre at Duquesne University; movement training for actors, mime, and fitness at his Studio on Spring Hill; performance consultation for shows with special movement needs.
Q – This is not your first Quantum show. Do you have any favorites from your history with us?
Thompson – This is my fifth show with Quantum – The Trap, The Grande Meaulne, The Task, The Howling Miller, and now, The Golden Dragon. I can’t pick a favorite. Everyone of them was wonderful! Unusual plays, each. Top flight, smart and savvy directors, each with a strong and lively sense of what makes theatre good. In each case, strong design concepts and fantastic execution that made me happy every day to enter the world of the play and try to make it come alive. Challenging acting demands requiring risk-taking and working outside the comfort zone, and allowing me to think that maybe I had grown a little doing that play. And in every case a play that my heart believed in the importance of, and every performance of which was filled with urgency and delight. These things are not all that common in the life of an actor. No, I can’t pick a favorite; they are all very high on my list of favorites.
Q – Have there been any challenges to working on this particular stage?
Thompson – The challenges of the set for The Golden Dragon are numerous: the bright sun and the heat, the ambient distractions of a day in a city park, the relatively great distances that must be covered, sometimes at a sprint, and the need to arrive with enough air to speak clearly. It is also a challenge to hear one another in rehearsal across those distances. Nor is this a play for thespians inclined to sea-sickness; yesterday in a given scene I was standing bent over on the concrete walkway, looking between my feet at one of the floating platforms, and it looked as though the cement walkway was bobbing up and down and the floating platform was still. I nearly lost my lunch. Yes, there are challenges, but we will be in total mastery of it all (I trust!) by opening!
Q – Are there any scenes (without giving too much away) that you are particularly excited about in The Golden Dragon?
Thompson – It is the whole play that delights me. Each scene taken singly is highly charged and an integral part of the structure of the play. And it is quite a structure! A fascinating design of interlocking pieces. You’ll just have to see it to know what I am saying.