A Man of No Importance: An interview with co-star Dylan Landau
Dylan Landau is a senior in the Program in Vocal Performance at NYU Steinhardt School’s Department of Music and Performing Arts Professions. She plays the role of Miss Crowe in their production of A Man of No Importance, which runs at the Frederick Loewe Theatre through 5th February to 9th February 2015. She graciously agreed to answer a few questions for us after the opening night performance on Thursday and shared a little about what is was like to bring this story to the stage.
Was either the 1994 movie or 2002 Lincoln Center production points of reference for the cast in preparing to play these roles?
Our director had seen both the film as well as the Lincoln Center production before diving into this production, but I think they had little influence on our version of the show. Our production is very much driven by the raw script itself as well as the venue and cast we are dealing with. We, with the encouragement of our director, made it a goal to stay true to the era of the show (1960s Ireland) and the subject matter while acknowledging that we are a group of 15 college students, not middle-aged professional actors. Towards the beginning of our one-month rehearsal process, the cast got together and watched the film as a sort of bonding experience, but I strongly feel that our production is an incredibly unique interpretation of the show, separate from the original New York production and the film.
What was the process for learning to speak and sing with a brogue dialect?
The Irish dialect was a very fun and challenging addition to the rehearsal process for A Man of No Importance. Before we even began rehearsals, our dialect coach (Evan Mueller) sent us various YouTube links to listen to as well as simple IPA changes between Standard American Dialect and an authentic Dublin Dialect. We were asked to dabble in the dialect before applying it to our individual lines in the show in order to allow the accent to sink in and be part of us, rather than strictly learning how to relate specific lines and phrases to the Irish accent. One rehearsals began, Evan met with each of the cast members individually to go over lines in the accent and help guide us towards a more authentic sound through the use of breath, resonance and vowel modification. Throughout the process, Evan sat in on rehearsals and pulled us aside to correct or encourage things. Of course it was important to our director (John Simpkins) and music director (James Cunningham) as well as our dialect coach that we speak in a believable dialect. We had a couple rehearsals where we were asked by John to speak with the Irish accent during the duration of rehearsal. Even as we stepped into tech rehearsals and focused on more artistic aspects of the show, we were always encouraged and challenged to pay extra attention to language in order to tell this beautiful story.
What was the most challenging thing to “get right” with this production?
I’m sure each individual member of the cast would answer this question differently, but personally I feel as if my biggest challenge in this production was finding a way to stay in a focused character during set changes/transitions in addition to committing to a character during actual scripted scenes. Throughout the process, we’ve had many discussions about the direction in which the theater world is heading. In that vein, it is apparent that the line between cast and crew is getting blurred; more and more, cast members are handling the set pieces to transition between scenes as a means of storytelling. In this show, because it is a “play within a play”, there is a definite way to look at these transitions in the same way that one would look at a line or a scene. I found that the hardest thing to “get right” in this show was to ensure that I was always committed to a character’s circumstance, whether it be while I was actually portraying Miss Crowe in a scene or whether I was transforming the stage to further guide Alfie along in the story. Although it was an extremely difficult task, I would also say that it was one of the most rewarding aspects of the show, and helped me develop a skill that I am confident will come in handy as I enter the “real world” of theater, outside of NYU.
Photos: Dylan Landau
A Man of No Importance is on at NYU’s Frederick Loewe Theatre from 5th February to 9th February 2015, for further information or to book visit here.