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