July 6th, 2012
Artistic Associate Andy Luther’s performance in The Gacy Play has got people talking, critics and audiences alike. Here he talks to us about what it’s like portraying someone like John Wayne Gacy, Jr. and his preparation for the role. Enjoy!
SIDESHOW: How are you doing? Is this role driving you crazy yet?
ANDY LUTHER: No, I don’t think so but that depends on who you ask. I think many of my colleagues think I am a little crazy to begin with. I mean, I am an actor so….
SS: We all know you’re crazy. So what’s the most challenging part of playing someone like John Wayne Gacy?
AL: Creating someone that you can watch for 90 minutes without making excuses for what the man did. A protagonist needs to be likable enough that you will follow their story. Making Gacy a likable man is a moral contradiction in my mind but a necessary device for the play to move forward. So creating a character on that thin line is very difficult.
SS: Is the fact that he was a real person make it easier or harder to portray him?
AL: Neither, and here is why. I looked at this play early on and asked myself what characteristics of his I thought were relevant to his portrayal; I liked the way he held his lips when he talked, I liked his physical mannerisms. I started to play with these things early on, even before rehearsal. But I found this approach to be very distracting from what the play was trying to do. It was not a play about John Wayne Gacy’s physical manifestations, it was a play about what it might have been like in his daily life leading up to his spree of murders. Well, no one really knows what that was like except for the people who lived it. So, recognizing that this is a work of fiction I gave myself permission to let go of trying to impersonate him and start exploring the Gacy that people liked before they discovered his dark truths.
SS: What was your preparation like for this role?
AL: Memorizing lines, running the show, memorizing lines, running the show, experimenting with intentions, memorizing lines, running the show, getting used to the new spacing on the set, implementing props, open the show.
SS: Do you have any rituals before you go onstage or before a performance?
AL: Usually, I like to take some time to myself and sort of meditate on the show for a few minutes before we do the show.
SS: How do you unwind after a show?
AL: Ideally, with a glass of bourbon, but more likely with a drive north on Lakeshore to my home and then to sleep for work the next day.
SS: Why should someone come see The Gacy Play?
AL: They should come see it because it is a simple yet complex play that does what only theatre can do. Not only is it a show but it is a work of art. It is a good play and I am very proud of the work that the cast and crew has put into this production. Simply put, it is a worthwhile theatrical endeavor regardless of the subject matter.