ED2011 Interviews ED2011 Theatre ED2011 Week1 Edition

Anthony Rapp: On the Shakespeare Fringe… in 3D

By | Published on Thursday 11 August 2011

Anthony Rapp

Anthony Rapp is your genuine ‘Broadway type’, having risen to fame as the star of the original run of ‘Rent’, and reprised the role in the 2005 film version and a subsequent stage tour.
His film credits include ‘A Beautiful Mind’ and ‘Six Degrees Of Separation’, he’s been on ‘Law & Order: Special Victims Unit’, and played Charlie Brown in another Broadway production, the 1999 revival of ‘You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown’. What is this big name doing in Edinburgh? Appearing in ‘3D Hamlet’ at theSpaces on the Mile, that’s what.

CM: You began your career when you were very young – how did it all happen, and how did you end up on Broadway?
AR: I was the youngest of three kids, and my mom was a single mother nurse, who above all else was fiercely committed that we all grow up as happy and active as possible. One summer when I was six, she was a nurse at a summer camp, and we kids joined her.  It was there that I auditioned for and was cast in my first show: I played the Cowardly Lion in ‘The Wizard of Oz’. I was hooked, and started doing community theatre around my home town, outside of Chicago, for a couple of years.

At one point, a director recommended to my mom that I start auditioning for professional work in Chicago, and my extremely supportive mother made that possible, and I started getting work. I was extraordinarily fortunate in so many ways that I appreciate now even more than I did as a kid. So many kids in showbiz are thrust into it kicking and screaming, or have controlling and obsessive parents who suck all of the joy out of everything. My mom was nothing but supportive.

CM: Do you think you might have chosen an alternate career, had you not met with success at an early age?
AR: It’s beyond impossible for me to think of that after the fact, because everything worked out the way that it did. But I suppose I probably always would have been drawn to some sort of artistic pursuit. Or I would have been drawn to work with animals in some capacity.

CM: You’ve appeared on stage, on film and on television during your career. Do you have a favourite, or do they all have their pros and cons? If you really had to choose one element, which would it be?
AR: I don’t say this only because I’m currently participating in the world’s most famous live performance festival, but there is nothing at all as special as theatre to me.  I love being an audience member of quality films and television programmes, but even when filming is fun, it’s never as fulfilling as the best theatre experiences are. The only con I can think of regarding doing a run of a show on stage is that it can be a bit of a grind physically and emotionally, depending on the show. But I also welcome that challenge, and love the opportunity to tell the story from start to finish, with heart and soul and commitment, every performance.

CM: You have also written a book, a memoir. Was that an enjoyable thing to do?
AR: I can’t say it was always enjoyable. It was daunting, exhausting, emotionally draining, and lonely. But I am very proud of the end result, blown away by the wonderful response the book has received, and gratified that many people are finding comfort and resonance in its story.

CM: What made you decide to do a show in Edinburgh?
AR: I was invited to be a part of ‘3D Hamlet’ by Sam and Nicola, the Fundamental Theatre Project’s artistic team, and jumped at the chance. The timing was perfect, and the opportunity to try my hand at one of the greatest roles ever written looked like a once in a lifetime occurrence.

CM: Is it the first time you have been to the Edinburgh Fringe? What do expect from it?
AR: I came to the Fringe a few years ago when my brother, Adam, directed his play ‘Finer Noble Gases’ here. They were extremely well received, and I had a blast for the few days I was in town. I thought the city was gloriously beautiful, I loved the energy everywhere, and I left terrifically inspired. I’m hoping that this year’s experiences will top all of that.

CM: Tell us something about the show, and the character you play.
AR: It’s a muscular, passionate, resonant 65-minute adaptation of one of the most famous plays ever written – Hamlet – that demonstrates its enduring power and relevance all these hundreds of years after it was written. I have the great good fortune of being given the chance to do my best to bring to life the Dane himself, which is an actor’s dream. Every time I get to live inside of Shakespeare’s language I discover new colours, depths, and ideas, and I only hope my version does at least a little justice to the Bard’s intentions.

Anthony Rapp’s show ‘3D Hamlet: A Lost Generation’ was performed at theSpaces On The Mile during Fringe 2011.