Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Struts & Frets: Interviews with the Cast & Crew of Merchant of Venice - Dylan Arredondo

It's the most wonderful time of the year! And by that, we mean time for more "Struts & Frets"! That's right, it's your favorite series of interviews with the best and brightest talents Hamlet Isn't Dead has to offer. Today's wonderful words have been offered up by none other than Dylan Arredondo, who plays Bassanio in our upcoming production of Merchant of Venice. Be warned: he plays #HIDMoV's romantic lead, and for good reason too! Check him out.

Are you a Star Trek? Cause that gaze is set to stun!

HID: First thing’s first: What’s your favorite color, and the favorite color of your character? And why?

DA: I like to think my favorite color is a crisp granny smith apple, but if I'm being honest with myself, it's black. I'm not quite sure why. It's kinda like a blank slate, but not as loud about it as white is. Noir -- it's classic, sophisticated, powerful. Other colors feel more empty and superficial or limiting, whereas black is so full of unknown things.
The Bassanio that starts the show is a man of excess and lavish; at risk of falling into stereotype, his favorite color might be gold or platinum. You'll have to see the show to find out if this Bassanio changes his favorite color by the end.

HID: We obviously loved your audition for Merchant. Can you tell us (and the readers) a little bit about it from your side?

DA: It was such a comfortable audition room, in terms of the friendly people in it, and such an uncomfortable audition room, in terms of the space itself. We auditioned in the Grand Hall of the Times Center, a monstrous ballroom that ate up my voices, my choices, and really threw me a curve ball. While trying to acclimate to the space as I was doing a prelim monologue from Love's Labour's Lost, I jostled up some words because of that split focus, which faltered my self-confidence a bit. So when y’all asked me to read the Bassanio side, I knew I had to go big or go home. And now we're here and that's how that story goes.

HID: Bassanio goes through a lot to end up with the love of his life. Has love ever caused you to do anything out of the ordinary?

DA: Gee, funny you should ask. One might say it has. It was nothing really. After winning a trip on a certain ship during a dockside card game, I spot a certain society girl on her way to Philadelphia to marry her rich snob fiancé. She feels hopelessly trapped by her situation and contemplates suicide on the aft deck until I rescue her. We dine in first class. We dance in third class. I sketch her nude. Suddenly, the ship collides with an iceberg and begins to sink. Following several obstacles, all lifeboats have departed by the time we get to the deck. We ride the ship into the freezing ocean. I help her onto a wooden panel buoyant enough for only one person -- debatably. And I sacrifice myself to save her. Some call it the greatest love story every told. But yeah, that's probably one of the more extraordinary things I've done in the name of love.

HID: Do you think Bassanio handles everything in this story as well as he could? Or would you have any advice for him if he were able to do it all over again?

DA: It is apparent to me that Bassanio is a charmer: he gauges a room, assesses who he's dealing with, and knows how to craft his persuasion to that person very intuitively. So in that sense, he handles people remarkably well. But the fact that this is so present in the text also says that Bassanio frequently gets himself into sticky situations, which is how that charm has become so seasoned. He's a smooth talker -- emphasis on "talker," which gets him into trouble. He lives beyond his means and loves grandly. But, as is typical of the adventure and impulsivity of youth, his primary focus is himself and what he wants and what others can do for him. But he is very generous of spirit, to the fault that it's difficult for him to look much farther beyond the present moment. My advice: be a little more considerate of others along the way, rather than after-the-fact or as a second thought. Take an extra second to look at the big picture.

What more is there to say, other than 'Don't get on a ship with Dylan Arredondo in 1912'? Well, you can come say it to his face and hear him say lots of things too at Hamlet Isn't Dead's Merchant of Venice, opening December 14th! Whatever you do, don't miss it!
Tickets are available at -- ON SALE NOW! Shows run Dec. 14th - 17th.

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