1. When did you decide to become an actor? Joel Swetow, FOREVER HOUSE - Skylight Theatre 2016

I was always acting as a kid.  Improv mostly.  I just didn’t know that’s what I was doing.  But down in the basement of the house I grew up in, I would don hats or capes or make a stick into a sword and create elaborate, heroic scenarios with friends.  My dream was to be Zorro, or Superman, or one of the Three Musketeers.

I decided to become an actor one night while I was taking a walk through my neighborhood in San Fransisco, trying to figure out what to do with my life.  I had done some acting in college, but it had never occurred to me to pursue it as a career.  And during that walk, it just hit me with absolute clarity and certainty — I need to be an actor.  I guess it was an epiphany or revelation of some sort.  So I applied to the Advanced Acting Program at A.C.T. there in San Fransico, and to my astonishment, I got in. 

2. What's the one piece of advice that you were given that's really stuck with you?

My acting teacher, Milton Katselas, used to say to me “Don’t just deliver the pizza.”  By which he meant that I was very good as an actor “delivering” the part, being a dutiful, responsible, “appropriate” actor.  He was encouraging me to be willing to mess up, to transgress, to go against both what was expected of me as an actor and the predictable performance.  Taking that in really freed me enormously in my work.

3.  An earthquake unsettles the FOREVER HOUSE.  Have you ever experienced a major earthquake?

Yes — the Northridge earthquake of 1994

What’s the one thing you’d do if an earthquake happened to you while you’re at home?

Make sure my wife and I both got down beside a bed or large sturdy piece of furniture.

 Forever House, Skylight Theatre 2016

4. You play two different men in the play, what do you do differently as compared to doing a single role?  Are there any “tricks” you can share about how to make them distinctly different?

Any time I play more than one part in a play, I come up with a complete biography for each character.  That makes them very different in my mind.  Honoring the text and what’s said by the character and about the character is essential.  Costume changes always help, both to inform me about who the character is and to allow the audience to differentiate between them.  And then I try to figure out how the character would move and speak and, while staying true to the essence of the character, try to make them very distinct from each other in those two regards. Eh voila!!

5. What is your favorite thing to do when not at the theatre?

Hang out at home in my sweatpants, drink coffee, and read.