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Matt de Rogatis on 'Wars of the Roses: Henry VI and Richard III'

31 Jul, 2018   
GUESTS

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INTERVIEWER

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LANGUAGE

English

Original Network

screenpicks.com

ScreenPicks recently posed some questions to Matt de Rogatis who is currently producing and starring in Wars of the Roses: Henry VI and Richard III. De Rogatis plays the scheming and villainous monarch Richard III, one of Shakespeare’s most memorable characters, who has also been portrayed by such cinematic giants as Laurence Olivier, Al Pacino and Ian McKellen.

The production is directed by Austin Pendleton, who in addition to his storied theater background has appeared in such films as The Muppet Movie and Searching for Bobby Fischer. He also directed Elizabeth Taylor on Broadway in The Little Foxes. In addition to directing Wars of the Roses, Pendleton also performs Henry VI.

Why did you decide to produce a play based on Shakespeare’s Richard III and why was the decision made to incorporate parts of the playwright’s Henry VI Part 3 into the text? 

De Rogatis: Well, Richard III is very complicated and challenging for an actor to portray. It’s one of the greatest roles in the theater; so naturally, I was up for the task. When I approached Austin about working together, he was immediately interested and told me he always wanted to combine the texts of Henry VI Part 3 with Richard III. Not long after, we started working on the play and shaping the script. However, it was certainly his vision to illustrate the formation of Richard III by opening audiences up to his back-story, which you see in Henry VI Part 3.

What intrigues you about the role of Richard III and what themes do you think that Wars of the Roses is addressing?  Do you think that these themes are relevant for contemporary times?

De Rogatis: Shakespeare is timeless. He seems to have captured human behavior better than any playwright or literary author has. I can’t think of anything besides the Bible that may be more influential than Shakespeare. Richard is a man who experiences extreme feelings of worthlessness as a result of his deformities and believes the only way he can attain some semblance of worth is to gain power and become King. He’s willing to do it by any means necessary. Don’t we all feel unlovable at times? Don’t we all feel, to some degree, that if we can obtain something outside of ourselves we can then have “value?” This theme is absolutely relevant to almost any human being walking the Earth. It certainly is for me and I hope I can capture much more than just an evil man on that stage. I prefer to think of him as a haunted man. I do think that we are all haunted to some degree.

What has it been like to collaborate with Austin Pendleton? How did that collaboration start? 

De Rogatis: Austin is a legend as well as a friend and a good, kind soul. He is extremely knowledgeable about so many things and has bestowed his wisdom on us, in this production. Our co-director Peter Bloch, a close friend of Austin’s, has also been a joy and a blessing to work with. The combination of the two men has really shaped this production into something, I think, that will be pretty special… My collaboration with Austin started in 2016 when he coached me in Hamlet. After that, we had always talked about doing something together. Last summer we agreed that Richard III would be the project we’d tackle and it has evolved from there.

Do you find both producing and acting in a show rewarding?  Do you think that doing both gives an actor greater control over their career? 

De Rogatis:  It’s absolutely rewarding. And ten times more work. I always tell people, it’s like I’m starting my own business or opening my own restaurant. To get it off the ground and to make it successful in the way you want it to be, you have to have your hand in all aspects. Basically, it’s on your mind from the time you wake up until the time you go to bed. Plus, you are doing everything to ensure the success of the show and your career. There is no such thing as a set schedule for me. It’s all-encompassing. And yes I think it gives an actor greater control over their career. I have undeniably made much bigger gains for myself since I have adopted this mindset. Again, it’s your own business versus working for someone else.

Is there anything in general that you would like to tell audiences about Wars of the Roses: Henry VI & Richard III

De Rogatis: We have an awesome website at proveavillain.com and everything you need to know about the show is on the site. I encourage people to check it out and come to see our production, which runs from August 1st through August 19th at 124 Bank Street Theater in NYC.

Would you like to share with us what your future projects are? 

De Rogatis: Without getting into specifics, I will be working on a revival of a major American playwright’s masterpiece in the fall of 2019. Cryptic I know. But it’s all I’m at liberty to say at the moment. And I’m working on something else in the Spring of 2019, which I also cannot say. 

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