Sunday, July 16, 2006

Meet the cast member: Sitting Bull himself, Steve Completo

Steve Completo is on his fourth show with Foothill, counting among his favorites Ragtime "for the grandeur", and Urinetown "for the zaniness".

Now he's adding Annie Get Your Gun to that list "for the realness!"

Steve has a most interesting comment about why he has started being a regular part of the Foothill crowd:
"I look forward to working at FMT because of the way that the actors are treated. We are treated as assets that are utilized, not used (big difference)."

I noticed that myself over the nine years during which I was in Foothill shows. Jay and his staff got more and more efficient, and more and more respectful of their actors' time. I've done my time being called and then sitting around for hours. I've done my time being cast in a role but finding the director wanted to show me exactly how to do it, rather than letting me, oh, I don't know, act...what a concept! So, to work somewhere where actors are respected and tends to mean a lot.

When asked to name his favorite Annie moment so far, Steve gets all sappy on us (his word, not mine):
"Every moment with this production is a favorite. I know this sounds kind of sappy, but I'm having a ball, even when I'm just waiting to go on stage. I also find myself envying the dancers. Tyler has created some truly fine dance numbers that everyone will enjoy!"

Well, thanks for narrowing it right down, Steve!

Steve's favorite part of the process is a little different than a lot of folks, who usually pick run-thrus (those rehearsals when you first get it on its feet and run things in order and get a real sense of the personal favorite time) or performances. Steve's pick?
"My favorite part of the process is research, especially when the character is based on an actual person (I posted a comment to your Annie background info from Jay on the blog site the other day). I also enjoy the rehearsal process as I try to create the character I'm portraying. Each day is different as we try to add layers to that character.

Jay spoke with me early on about the character, especially the feedback that he had received from a Native American colleague; who decided that he could not participate in the show because of the stereotypes portrayed. As a consequence, Jay asked me to go over the dialog and remove as many stereotypical references in the dialog as possible (he, of course would have final approval).

I had already started research on Sitting Bull, and found that SB was a remarkably articulate and complex individual. Some of the quotes attributed to him are just awesome.

From a bio at the period of time - A "paleface - Charles Eastman" who knew SB wrote that "He was gifted with the power of sarcasm, and few have used it more artfully than he." Eastman further states "as he talked he seemed to take hold of his hearers more and more." And, "As Sitting Bull spoke, so he felt, and he had the courage to stand by his words."

Some quotes from Sitting Bull:

"The earth has received the embrace of the sun and we shall see the results of that love."
"Each man is good in the sight of the Great Spirit."
"Is it wrong for me to love my own? Is it wicked for me because my skin is red? Because I am Sioux? Because I was born where my father lived? Because I would die for my people and my country?"
"If a man loses anything and goes back and looks carefully for it, he will find it."

Hopefully the research will prove itself in the final portrayal of the character (he's definitely not a caricature)."

Steve has a rather unlikely day job, and theatre is a terrific outlet for him:
"I perform because it takes me out of my "real" world. I'm a corporate tax accountant in real life, and find that theatre is my path to stress relief. My boss (who used to own a theatre group) has told me that he envies me because I have a life. I find that my acting helps to create a balance in my life."

I once did a show with a guy who worked for the I.R.S. What is it about taxes that causes such a need for an outlet? Never mind, I think I know. Lucky for us it does

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