You’ve probably seen Brad Smith around Chicago. Not only did he get his BFA at DePaul’s Theatre Conservatory, but he’s worked with theatre companies from Collaboraction to Strawdog. Now he talks with Our Town about his music, his influences and his newest role in Steppenwolf’s queer-themed FML: How Carson McCullers Changed my Life.
Our Town Steppenwolf’s choice of FML was inspired by their fall production of The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter. FML has been called a bold response to Heart. How do the two relate?
Brad Smith Aside from the fact that characters in FML are reading Heart, there are definitely parallels thematically as well in the characters themselves. [Author] Sarah Gubbins used Heart as a jumping off point, I think, more than anything, but there are many subtle links between the two.
OT What’s your experience been like working on FML?
BS Everyone is very kind and committed and we all believe, I think, that this is a timely show whose message and subject matter are vitally important to the health of this country's youth and to society at large. Not every play is Important with a capital "I." So when the chance comes around to do one that is, you savor it.
OT As an actor what sort of work do you do to break down a script/understand your character?
BS It varies based on the play, the character, and the process of the director, but generally I just try to stay open to the character and the words and learn through doing. It’s kind of like trying on clothes. You know when it fits.
OT What’s your dream role?
BS People tell my I look like a young Michael Gross, whom you may remember from Family Ties. Perhaps Sam Shepard could write a father-son piece for us.
OT You’re also a musician. How would you describe your music?
BS Melancholy, psychedelic, up-tempo folk-pop with a defeatist literary bent. Or something.
OT How did it come to be featured in Up in the Air?
BS Dumb luck. If you leave enough CDs around, someone of importance might pick it up and like it.
OT What’s next for you?
BS I'm about to begin the mixing process for my new album, which will come out this year. I'm also auditioning for Tom in Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams here at Steppenwolf, which, if the Michael Gross/Sam Shepard project doesn't work out, would be great.
A writer with an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sarah Terez Rosenblum freelances for a number of web sites and print publications. Her debut novel, “Herself When She’s Missing," (Soft Skull press) is available for pre-order here. She is also a figure model, Spinning instructor and teacher at Chicago’s StoryStudio. Inevitably one day she will find herself lecturing naked on a spinning bike. She's kind of looking forward to it actually.
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