David Turner: Shakespeare is the Surfing of Acting

WHT: Great to have you with us for the first time, David. Talk to us about your theatre training?
David: I have an MFA in Acting from Southern Methodist University and a BA in Theatre from Florida State.

WHT: Where is your hometown
David: I don’t live in Greenville. I was born in Tuscaloosa, AL, went to high school & undergrad in the Tallahassee, FL area, grad school in Dallas, TX, lived in NYC, moved back to Tallahassee, and currently live in Columbus, GA.

WHT: We love a well traveled actor. But this is the first round at The Warehouse, right?
David: I’m making my debut with the Warehouse! Woo hoo!

WHT: Do you have a favorite production with which you physically worked?
David: Probably the most rewarding production was when I played the Father in Six Characters in Search of an Author. It was a tough rehearsal process, interrupted by the events of 9/11, and is just a hard show to pull off. I learned a lot about myself through that show and am probably most proud of that work as an actor.

WHT: What about your favorite experience in a theatre – as an actor, technician, audience member, director, etc.?
David: Wow…that’s hard. I can’t narrow it down to one singular experience, but I can tell you my favorite occurrence in theatre: when the room breathes as one. It’s that moment right after something profound and deeply human happens and everyone in the room inhales that moment together. It’s right before the applause / laugh / cry. That’s why I go to theatre in any capacity.

WHT: What is your favorite part of being an actor?
David: I get to maximize my own life experience. I mean, in Richard III I get to be the King of England! Not too shabby!

WHT: Is there someone’s work that you greatly enjoy? Or sort of admire in acting? Any field?
David: I saw Mark Rylance do this show at Shakespeare’s Globe in London a few years back. I’ve never seen anyone own a space so entirely with so little effort. He is awe inspiring.

WHT: Person you haven’t worked with yet that’s still on your wishlist?
David: Does anyone know Mark Rylance’s agent?

WHT: Person that has influenced your acting or your process the most?
David: It’s hard to say. I’ve had a lot of teachers over the years. Most recently, Arthur Lessac’s voice and body work has helped me to find joy and ease in my acting. This has also translated into my life, so probably that.

WHT: Do you have a routine that you go through before a performance? Superstition, etc.?
David: Hey, now! That’s mine. Sorry.

WHT: Hey! We get that! How many Shakespeare’s do you have under your belt now?
David: I have now worked on productions of The Merchant of Venice, The Winter’s Tale, Hamlet, Romeo & Juliet, Much Ado about Nothing, and…the “Scottish” play. (There’s a superstition for you.) I’m also lucky to teach Shakespeare at my university, so I’ve gotten to venture into most of the cannon.

WHT: Favorite thing about diving into Shakespeare?
David: No subtext! It’s all out there and lived in the moment. To me, Shakespeare is the surfing of acting.

WHT: What has been your favorite part about Richard III’s rehearsal process or show’s progress?
David: The people. I’m the new guy at The Warehouse, the commuter and a part-timer in this rehearsal process. However, I’ve never been treated as an outsider. Everyone has been incredibly welcoming and fantastic.

WHT: How many wind-sprints did you have to do to get in shape to make it from one end of this stage to the other?
David: I play the dying king, so just getting out of the chair is exercise for him. It would be a loooong show if people had to wait for Edward to walk the distance of the stage.

WHT: This show focuses more on the action and less on the historical elements of Richard III. What was that like to experience a rather well known text in a bit of a different light?
David: It gave me freedom to focus on the human story rather than the minutia of The War of the Roses. For me, it took some pressure off.

WHT: How did your research for the show affect your performance?
David: I feel that Edward is trying to make peace his legacy. In order to resolve any conflicts on stage, I need to understand the back story of the conflicts prior. Also understanding political rank and power of the characters

WHT: Did a previous screening or performance of Richard III influence you in any direction?
David: Actually, I try to erase that from my memory prior to any show. My philosophy is that this particular cast and production staff / crew has never told this story before, so this story has never been told like this before. I like to figure out what our story is through our rehearsal.

WHT: Do you have a piece of advice for audience member coming to see Richard III?
David: Don’t let Richard babysit your children!

WHT: What is your favorite part about Greenville?
David: Greenville is a great town. Every time I come in I discover something new.

WHT: Do you do anything outside of acting?
David: I teach Acting, Voice & Movement at Columbus State University in Columbus, GA.

WHT: Where will we see you next?
David: I am directing Spamalot this summer for the Columbus Repertory Theatre.

See David as King Edward IV in Richard III playing through May 2nd!