We’ve been fortunate over the years to have a number of gifted directors sit at the helm of our shows and bring extraordinary theatre to our audiences. Brian Clowdus is adding his name to that list. Brian is an actor, educator, director, and producer. The Founder and Executive/Artistic Director of Serenbe Playhouse as well as the founder and CEO of his new company Brian Clowdus Productions, he holds a BA in Theatre & Dance from Amherst College and an MFA in Theatre from The University of South Carolina. He has performed/directed in Tokyo, London, Canada, Central and South America, The Caribbean, NYC, LA and in almost every other major city in the United States. Brian was named one of Atlanta’s Most Eligible Bachelors by Jezebel Magazine and was recently featured in Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles Magazine as one of the Top 15 Atlantans under 40.
Recently we caught up with Brian and got him to answer a few questions about himself and about his experience with our production of The Whipping Man.
WHT: Brian, where did you grow up?
Brian: Hokes Bluff, Alabama.
WHT: And now you are stationed in Atlanta, yes?
Brian: That’s correct.
WHT: You studied theatre in college. Where did you receive your degrees?
Brian: My BA in Theatre & Dance is from Amherst College. My MFA in Acting is from the University of South Carolina.
WHT: What is your next theatre-related gig?
Brian: Immediately after The Whipping Man, I will go into rehearsals for Man of La Mancha which I am directing at my theatre company, Serenbe Playhouse.
WHT: What do you list as your favorite role or directing experience ever?
Brian: Just impossible to name one. I try to be in the moment and have my current project always be my favorite.
WHT: Good answer. Favorite thing about working in Greenville is…?
Brian: The Starbucks in a funeral home in Easley… still can’t get over that!
WHT: Favorite thing about working at The Warehouse thus far?
Brian: The freedom I have as a director. I feel supported yet free to do my thing.
WHT: Favorite moment of this show or rehearsal experience thus far?
Brian: Our last rehearsal (2.8.15 for those keeping score at home) was really cooking along. Had a couple of break-through moments…each rehearsal gets richer.
WHT: What is one thing you’ve learned from this rehearsal / show experience?
Brian: It’s an incredible and powerful story, but it is exhausting for the artists and sometimes we just need to take a break and have a moment. Me and the actors leave exhausted. I am brought to tears every rehearsal.
WHT: Who are some people who have influenced your work as an actor / artist? How did they influence you?
Brian: Three people I worked with in grad school really shaped me as both an actor and director: Robert Richmond, Robyn Hunt and Amy Boyce Holtcamp. I am also completely inspired by anything Baz Luhrmann and Tim Burton touch…they are true magicians!
WHT: What’s the one thing you need (tangible or intangible) as an actor (or director) for every show you rehearse or perform? What has to occur or be in place for you to do your thing well?
Brian: Simple and powerful story telling. If it doesn’t serve the story, it shouldn’t be there.
WHT: Is this the first time you’ve ever directed in a thrust set up? If so, what’s been your general opinion / experience / feeling with this difference?
Brian: Not my first time using a thrust. I LOVE a thrust set up or being in the round. It’s much more immersive and breaks down the typical one wall between audience and actor.
WHT: How much does the scenic, lighting or costume design influence your performance / interpretation as a director?
Brian: All of that gets me really excited about the world of the play! I weave in sound as early as possible and have the set rendering in front of me at all times. It really creates the world and environment for me.
WHT: Favorite overall theatre experience you’ve ever had as actor, director, or audience-member?
Brian: Too hard to commit to one…BUT being an audience member at Sleep No More was one of the coolest experiences of my life and really re-defined what theatre could be for me.
WHT: Person that you haven’t worked with that you’d most like to work with on a show?
Brian: Dolly Parton. Once that happens I can die a happy man.
WHT: Piece of advice you’d most like to give an audience member coming to see The Whipping Man?
Brian: Get yourself prepared…. it’s a heavy show and an emotional journey, but one that will leave you thinking and wanting to talk.
Catch Brian Clowdus’ handiwork with The Whipping Man opening February 20th!
You can see/read more about Brian’s work here as well: www.brianclowdus.com.