"Upstate Onstage" Interview \ October 2007

Added on by Chris WHITE.

UPSTATE ONSTAGE. What's the best show you've ever seen?

 Halloween 2006

Halloween 2006

ME. I saw De La Guarda—Chilean, acrobatic “Theatre from the Ceiling”—in New York City during the summer of 2004. Standing on a concrete floor, staring at people flying above your head…splashed with water…pounding music. It made me cry, though I wasn’t sad at all. I still dream about it.

UO. Who is your theater hero?

ME. My dad. He never really did the whole theatre thing growing up, but he followed me into it in middle school. Had to sit through a whole lot my terrible shows, but he was always game, you know…always very supportive, though he’d probably have rather seen his son play college football. Now, he and my mom are season subscribers at Flat Rock. They tell me about plays I should see. So yeah…anyone who takes a crack at joining a live theatre audience, then stays with it for the rest of their lives…that’s kind of heroic in a way, I think.

UO. Favorite Beatle.

ME. Paul McCartney. Yeah…I know, obvious. Still…what’s wrong with being the pretty front man for the world’s greatest rock band? What’s wrong with writing catchy hooks for pop songs for nearly half a century? What is so wrong with scrubbing your face with formaldehyde every evening before going to bed? Not a thing, my friends, not a damn thing.

UO. Who was your most memorable teacher?

ME. Rhett Bryson. I still remember my first day in his Drama 11 class, my freshman year at Furman (Fall, 1988). My whole life changed that day. The next day in class was even better. My life changed back. The next day, I changed again. Back and forth like that all semester. Fortunately for me, there were an odd number of days!

UO. "re" or "er"?

ME. “Re” when referring to the idea of drama or a stage concept, “er” when referring to a place where plays are performed or films are screened.

UO. If you could see a play at any theater in the world...

ME. The Gate, Dublin. Ireland has occupied a special place in my cultural imagination for some time now. I’d like to live there someday…work in a small community theater near a town like Cork. Maybe they’d hire me to be their artistic director because of my charming American accent.

UO. Favorite place to eat

ME. Rainbow Drive-In on Poinsett Highway. The people (all family) are really nice, of course, and the restrooms are outside the building, like a circa 1970 gas station. There are these actor headshots framed on the wall…average-looking people with names you’ve never heard of…autographed with a cheery note: “Best Cole Slaw Anywhere!” Reminds me that no matter how complicated life gets, how smart and vital and sophisticated I feel…some things really do stay the same. They endure. Life, real life, happens. All the time.

UO. What other job in the theater would you like to attempt?

ME. I’d like to do curtain speeches for the South Carolina Children’s Theatre…come out drinking a beer, chomping on a cigar…”If you monkeys’ll shut the hell up, we’ll start the effin’ play!”

UO. If a book was written about your life, what would be the title?

ME. Hmmm…how to name my life’s story without sounding pretentious. It’d probably be a coffee table-style book…lots of pictures: “’I Swear There Was a Barbecue Joint Here Once’ The Life and Legacy of Christopher Neil White.”

UO. Describe what you contribute to the theater (in one sentence.)

ME. I believe that live theatre can be as exciting as a live sporting event…or a big, dumb popcorn movie…or a shotgun wedding. I’m all about making that happen: bull fights for two dozen of my closest friends in my son Whitaker’s bedroom.