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2016-2017 SeasonThe River

‘The River’ actor is an angler

By October 12, 2016August 11th, 2023No Comments
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette logo

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – Theater crowds of the past marveled at the sensation of reality when a chandelier or helicopter dropped from the ceiling. Andrew William Smith says he’s not sure how Pittsburgh crowds will stomach the reality of what his character does on stage with a freshly caught trout. Anglers call it “field dressing.”

“I have a feeling there may be some pretty strong vocal reactions,” said Mr. Smith, part of the three-actor ensemble performing Jez Butterworth’s “The River” on the bank of the Allegheny River. “In rehearsal some of the crew had some reactions to it.”

But risk-taking fans of edgy Pittsburgh theater have endured greater displays of reality from Quantum Theatre. Staged in a fishing cabin set at the new Aspinwall Riverfront Park, fishing provides the structural and metaphorical backbone of the stage mystery.

Playing the character performed by Hugh Jackman on Broadway, Mr. Smith in real life is a catch-and-release fly fisherman. He said he instinctively understood the role.

“I think a lot of fly fishing is interacting with nature,” he said. “Having the patience to understand the environment around you — understanding the water and the flies above it, understanding how they interact with the fish and how you fit into that mix. There’s just something incredible about it.”

The fishing metaphors flow like a page from Hemingway’s Nick Adams stories, but Mr. Smith said it was the poetry and “linguistic artistry” that drew him to this work by the Tony-winning playwright behind “Jerusalem.”

“The command of language is of a very high quality,” he said. “A seven- or eight-minute monologue about my character catching his first fish grows and changes like the experience it describes. It’s beautiful and exciting and metaphoric at the same time.”

Read the full story here.

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