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Messenger No. 4 – Dramatis Personae – Andrew Rodgers

Name: Andrew Aleri Rodgers

Where are you from originally?
I was born in Colorado Springs, but quickly emigrated (not of my own accord, I was two) northward to Loveland, Colorado.  The Sweetheart City (seriously, check out their valentines re-mailing program) was my hometown for most of my formative years.  I then matriculated at the Ira Brind School of Theatre Arts at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia (or IBSOTA for the acronymically-inclined), where, among other ambitions, I developed a serious love for Stage Combat.  I joined the ranks of the Society of American Fight Directors, and quickly attained the rank of Advanced Actor-Combatant.  But that has nothing to do with the question.

How long have you been in Austin?
I moved to Austin in the early summer of 2010, right after I received my Bachelors of Fine Arts Degree from the abovementioned University.  Since then I’ve visited a couple of lovely coffee shops, had my car towed, and even visited a lake/river.  I was an assistant manager at the House of Torment, where I had the distinction of making Jessica Alba scream and jump a couple feet into the air.  I also managed to make a reporter from FOX News just about pee herself.  Good Times.

I also remember bats.  Oh yeah, and I worked with a couple of fantastic people, and even got to choreograph some violence for Titus Andronicus with the Last Act Theater Company.  My choreography got me a lot of attention, a nod from the Austin Chronicle, and I even won an award from RAW: Natural Born Artists (Austin Chapter) for Performing Artist of the Year.  There was acting there too. (Ed. Note: Even some on his part)

Who are some of the the folks you’re playing in Messenger No. 4?
Really just the one.  You know… Messenger No. 4.  You know, THAT one.

What was the very first show you did ever in your entire life?
When I was three years old, my aunt Emily directed  Charlotte’s Web for Bill Reed Middle School in Loveland.

Apparently even then, students weren’t volunteering for embarrassing roles, so my aunt bribed me and my siblings with candy bars to be ducklings.  We got into the fuzzy yellow suits, complete with bills, and walked across the stage, flapping our wings, saying “Quack Quack!”  We brought down the house with laughter.  Side note- That night I shared the stage with now-famous actor Kyle Howard, who you may have seen in such movies as House Arrest, The Paper Brigade, and the recent TV show My Boys.  It’s not relevant in the least, but it’s interesting.
Kinda.

What is the single most fun thing you’ve ever gotten to do on stage?
Tough Call.  I think the most exciting this I’ve ever gotten to do is celebrate Christmas as a zombie.  My senior year of college, my school partnered with award-winning theatrical think-tank New Paradise Laboratories for the show MORT.  It was a three-part devised piece centering around death and the afterlife.  It was loosely based around Dante’s Inferno, and the third part was the inferno.  We made it into a zombie wasteland where we were celebrating Christmas, complete with presents, Santa Hanging by a noose, and even a zombie Ballet.  The audience was arranged in and around the playing space, so at any point, there was a zombie two or three feet from any given audience member.   We ran full speed around and in between audience members, brushing their hair, blowing on them, reenacting our deaths, and horrifying them with pictures of ourselves when we were children.  we made people weep, we made them scream, and we made them laugh.  I even got to threaten someone whose cell phone went off. There’s nothing like an angry zombie to make one turn one’s cell phone to vibrate.

What moment on stage do you wish you could go back and erase from history?
Upon a Midnight Dreary, October 2010.  It was a great re-imagining of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart, with two fantastic actors (Karen Alvarado and Travis Bedard).  I choreographed the violence, and it was my first show in Austin.  We got great press, but we were forced to use some sub-standard props.  In the script, the main character has a gun go off right by her ear, and is deafened while her husband is shot.  We were using a two-dollar cap gun that I purchased at HEB.  It didn’t matter how many times I addressed and tested the cap gun, it was notoriously unreliable. So much so that on the second night of the show, it failed to fire despite having the trigger pulled ten times.  In front of the audience. With me cowering in fear before the gun.

Twenty agonizingly silent seconds passed before eventually, our stage manager got the hint, and brought the lights down while I screamed in “pain,” trying to cover the fact that the gun never went off. Add to that the fact that all of our sound cues were ten seconds delayed that night, and we had reviewers in the audience. It was an entirely forgettable night of theater.

What about Messenger No. 4 are you most excited to be sharing with an audience?

I am beyond excited to be working with this incredible cast.  Every moment I spend with them sinks me deeper in awe with the incredible talent and creativity of these people.  For my first leading role, I could not have asked for co-stars and co-workers this amazing. Every second these people are on stage, they are committed to bringing not just entertainment, but excitement and intrigue to the audience.  When I first met the cast, I drove home in a funk, utterly depressed- I was convinced that after hearing all of us read the script, I was about to be fired from the role of M4 because there was no way I could ever keep up with these people. They were way too funny and way too clever for me to be in the same production.  But seeing all of us grow together and seeing this show develop has been an incredible experience. To say that they keep me humble and on my toes would be an understatement. They keep me so much on my toes that I keep falling over, whilst they point and laugh.  But it’s okay, because I’m laughing right along with them.  This show is amazing because of the incredible cast, no question.

Messenger No. 4 – Dramatis Personae – Daniel Sawtelle

Name: Daniel Sawtelle

Where are you from originally?
I hail from the land Welch’s Grapes, the Brig Niagara Battle of 1812 Warship, and “That Thing You Do” – Erie, PA.

How long have you been in Austin?
Since July of 2007.  You do the math.  Because I’m no good at it.
(Ed note: 4.5 years)

Who are some of the the folks you’re playing in Messenger No. 4?
Talthybios, Lysander, Euripides, and various men on film.

What was the very first show you did ever in your entire life?
The first production (and I use that term lightly) I ever did was my church’s hell house.  It was called “The Ultimate Trip”.  Tagline–“It’ll scare the HELL right out of you.”  I played the distraught teen who committed suicide.  We were pretty gruesome for Christians.  Mel Gibson had NOTHING on us.  The first actual play I ever did was “Sound of Music.”  I was Franz The Butler.  I couldn’t (and still can’t) sing.

What is the single most fun thing you’ve ever gotten to do on stage? Besides stab Joey–er Rogue Messenger?   Honestly, I’m torn.  In college I was part of an ensemble that put together an original piece called “Vain” that was based on the prophets and other stories of the Old Testament.  It was very avant-garde complete with all of the actors in black tight fitting clothing and performing on an encircled space primarily filled with packing peanuts.  One of the stories we portrayed was the story of Job.  We portrayed God and Satan as children and “Job” was God’s favorite toy, so of course it was a My Buddy doll.  As Satan, I bet God I could break him.  I then proceeded to mangle that My Buddy doll in any and every way imaginable.  I stretched him, threw him, gave him a DDT, banged his head on the metal edge of a bin we had in the center of the space filled with water.  Nothing worked!  I then screamed “Why are you still smiling????” at the doll.  Now, as a child who grew up watching WWE and who wrestled with his My Buddy doll daily, this was very nostalgic and extremely fun.

Another option may be doing comedy roasts with The Austin Roaster’s Club.  There is nothing quite as fun as hurling insults at your best friends and complete strangers and having people pay to watch.

What moment on stage do you wish you could go back and erase from history?
This one’s easy.  I was Barnette Lloyd in “Crimes of the Heart.”  Barnette only has a few scenes in the play and in this production they had been staged very similarly.  During a performance, I either began the first scene with lines from the second or the second scene with lines from the first.  Either way, I was thrown and suddenly drowning on stage gasping to find my spot, my lines, anything that would end this humiliation.  It was the only time I’ve ever completely blanked on stage.  The scene was right before intermission and as I exited stage and the house lights came up, I heard an audience member say “That’s why I could never be an actor.”

Also, it was the only performance I had people in the audience.
Including my brand new girlfriend.
We broke up shortly thereafter.

What about Messenger No. 4 are you most excited to be sharing with an audience?
So many things.  Doll-wrestling aside, I’ve never gotten to be in a really good stage fight.  I’ve been killed, sure, but never had that long sustained sword fight.  I’m very excited about that.  Also, Will has come up with a very clever idea here, and the cast has been able to bring it to life in a very fun and creative way.  There are an incredible amount of references, jokes, parodies and dramatic moments thrown in to this show and they come at you at break-neck speed, sometimes from out of nowhere.  It’s fantastic to be a part of this process and I can’t wait to see the reaction of the audience, to see who gets what joke or reference, and who tears up to some random scene from a Greek play they may have never heard of.  So in summary, I’m excited to share fighting and the overall EXPERIENCE that is Messenger No. 4

Messenger No. 4 – Dramatis Personae – Megan Minto

Name: Megan Minto

Where are you from originally?

That’s a difficult question… My dad was in the Air Force, so we moved around a few times. I was born in California, in the middle of the Mojave Desert. But, to me, home is most likely Fort Walton Beach, FL. We moved there when I was 10, and my mom and sister are still there. When I think the essence of “home town” that’s where my mind goes.

How long have you been in Austin?

I have lived in Austin for six-and-a-half years. Through a crazy series of events, leading from Florida to Georgia to New York to California, I somehow landed in the Lonestar State. I love it, except for the heat!

Who are some of the the folks you’re playing in Messenger No. 4?

I’m playing 16, Messenger No. 4’s sassy ex; Claudius from Hamlet, who I’m hoping will become a little Hitler; and part of a blood-thirsty Greek chorus.

What was the very first show you did ever in your entire life?

I don’t remember the name of my first show, but it was on the cafeteria stage (I was in 2nd grade), and it was a musical about the seasons. I played a green leaf (from a tree). Then, in 4th grade, each student in my class performed a poem in costume. I did the “I think mice are rather nice…” bit, dressed as a mouse. Awesome!

What is the single most fun thing you’ve ever gotten to do on stage?
My mom is pretty conservative, but she’s very supportive of my acting. In college, I was in a production in which my character spends a lot of time talking about her vagina. The night my mom came, I really played those moments up to embarrass her. It worked!

What moment on stage do you wish you could go back and erase from history?

In high school, I was in a production of Guys and Dolls. I played Sarah (the missionary), who has a drunken moment. Sky Masterson picked me up during my tipsy song, and one of my shoes was loose. It flew off, hitting the orchestra conductor in the back of the head. Ouch!

Messenger No. 4 – Dramatis Personae – Elena Weinberg

Name: Elena Amelia Nagel Weinberg
(Or as I was once called in 5th grade which sent me home from school crying, Elena "a million bagels" Weinberg)

Where are you from originally?
I was born in Austin, but found my first home in Pleasanton, Texas.  On August 3, 1989, my parents were knee deep in remodeling their kitchen.  My mother was standing in her kitchen sink, sanding a cabinet at the moment I was born.  (That was when they got the call, their adoption was official, and they could pick up their new baby girl in Austin within three days time).  I only lived in our rolling country home in south Texas until the age of 3, thereafter San Marcos became my home.  Although I officially say I am "from" San Marcos, I went to High School in Wimberley, which very much shaped my theatrical future.  So, long story short, let’s say "San Marcos."

How long have you been in Austin?
5 years.

Who are some of the the folks you’re playing in Messenger No. 4?
Elektra, Antigone, Laertes, the "hot bitch" Narrative Inc. trainee (I named her myself), lamp, tree, Pluto the Dog… just some highlights.

What was the very first show you did ever in your entire life?
I invite everyone to my living room to watch the VHS recording of "Snow White" starring Elena Amelia Nagel Weinberg, age 3.  There are two performances, one in which I play Snow White and my Mom plays all the other characters, immediately followed by one in which my Dad plays Snow White and I play all of the other characters.

What is the single most fun thing you’ve ever gotten to do on stage? 
I was honored to play the front half of a pig in Mary Moody Northen Theatre’s production of "Peer Gynt" in 2010.

What moment on stage do you wish you could go back and erase from history?
When I was doing Hamlet at the Off Center a few months ago, the power in the entire building went out just as Hamlet and Laertes were starting their sword fight.  In our version, Ophelia (me) died onstage and stayed there for the rest of the play.. God love them, the boys decided to keep going.  Although there were a couple of close calls, neither one stepped on me or broke anything of their own.  It was probably the scariest moment I’ve ever gone through onstage in which I had absolutely no control over.  I mean, I was already dead, I couldn’t just get up and walk out!

What about Messenger No. 4 are you most excited to be sharing with an audience?
As cheesy as this sounds, I’m just excited to be able to provide our audiences with an hour and a half of pure fun; and to hopefully give them a break from real life for that short amount of time.  There have been so many laughs in rehearsals so far, I pray that our audiences have as much fun and think we are as funny as we do.