Sitting down with any member of the Houston theatre community is one of the true perks of writing for BroadwayWorld. Recently, I got to sit down with three of the four cast members in Stark Naked Theatre's upcoming production of Yasmina Reza's GOD OF CARNAGE. Kim Tobin (playing Veronica), John Gremillion (playing Alan), and Kay Allmand (playing Annette) all talked to me about the show and why Houston audiences will love it.
Me: The announcement of GOD OF CARNAGE was a surprise. What prompted the change in the season line up?
Kim Tobin: Well, we were actually thinking about what the whole season was about. We were working on the casting for BEYOND THEARAPY and were having some glitches with people being cast in other shows and coming up with how we were going to do it. Then, we started looking at the way the season was lined up and the way it seemed to be about couples and marriage. GOD OF CARNAGE had been on our list previously, anyway. Then, the way that BODY AWARENESS was about a married couple and conflict there, and then MACBETH is the ultimate couple strife [play]. So, because GOD OF CARANGE had almost made it anyway, and we were coming into some issues in casting the men in BEYOND THERAPY because of everybody being cast and casting being kind of late, it just felt like, "Wow, well this is couple conflict and we know some people available that fit these roles." So, the switch just seemed logical, and it just fit the season better. That's why we did it.
Me: GOD OF CARNAGE is hilarious, but also pretty heavy. How are you preparing for your roles?
Kim Tobin: (Looking at John Gremillion) Go ahead!
John Gremillion: I don't know yet. I'll have to think about that.
Kim Tobin: (Looking at Kay Allmand) Do you have any thoughts on that?
Kay Allmand: I think what I have been doing, especially in practicing on my own, especially, is trying to find the extremes of Annette, in order to be able to find a happy medium. I think she's kind of a high-strung people pleaser. She has her own bitch streak too. So, I go through it being like totally hysterical and bitchy. Then I go through it dripping with sweetness to try and find what sticks and what doesn't.
John Gremillion: For me, the role of Alan is a bit of a challenge because he stands for a lot things that I do not stand for. In fact, I find myself personally connecting more with some of what the other characters' philosophies are. So, I have to try and remove myself from that and find whatever it is in myself [that] is more standoffish, more shallow, (Laughs) if you will. He was raised on things that are the complete opposite of what I was raised on. He says, "I was raised with a kind of John Wayne-ish idea of virility," which doesn't mesh with what I was bought up with. (He and Kim Tobin Laugh) He's just a very different person than who I am. So, it's fun to go there, and it's challenging. But it can't be pretend. You have to find something in yourself. Whenever you play a character who you think is a jerk, you can't play jerk. And you can't play mean or evil. You have to believe whole-heartedly in what you're saying. You have to find something in yourself that locks in with what this person is saying, even if you personally disagree with it. You have to think that you're doing right! Even if you look at a character from the outside and you think, "This guy's not very nice," you know.
Kim Tobin: I think I really relate to Veronica a lot. I think she's very high-minded, and she's very meticulous about how she wants to express herself. I think I do that, and I think I try to do that. Unfortunately, when people try to do that, they end up very frustrated and very (Pauses) repressed. Because the harder you try to select exactly how you want to say everything in order to make sure that everyone hears you exactly the way you want to be heard, you're keeping back what you really mean. And so you end up pent up, and you think you're actually getting out more of what you want...
John Gremillion: (Feeding Into Kim Tobin's Idea) Because you try too hard.
Kim Tobin:...because you try too hard to get it exactly the way you want, instead of just allowing it to be (Pauses) said. And that's a lot of what this whole play is. The catharsis for an audience in this play is that they watch: ok, these people are going to come together, and make a real effort to just say the right thing, and say the right things to do the right, appropriate set of steps to get this solution to this problem about their children on the table, and that never works. And if we've all thought about everything we should do the right way, you know, and put it on the table, that's a nice dream we all have in this world, but those things never happen. What happens is you've repressed everything you truly want to say.