Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Nero/Pseudo: Meet Ryan Alan Jones

(As part of my blogging about Nero/Pseudo here at Balkans via Bohemia, I will be introducing readers to members of the cast and creative team of the show.) 

Over the course of the Nero/Pseudo rehearsal process the role of our amazing Ensemble in the show just grows and grows. You've met Brian McDermott and Alani Kravitz -- now meet the third member of this amazing group: Ryan Alan Jones.

Ryan is making his WSC Avant Bard debut in Nero/Pseudo. You may have seen him as Melchior in Spring Awakening (Kensington Arts Theatre), Young Lad/Ben Nicholson in Pitmen Painters (1st Stage), Marquis of Dorset in Richard III (Virginia Shakespeare Festival), and the title character in Spooky Action Theatre’s Helen Hayes-nominated production of Optimism! or Voltaire’s Candide. He's got a website going at so you can keep up with all his news.

Ryan gladly answered the playwright's three questions about the Nero/Pseudo experience.

Who is your favorite person/god from antiquity?

As a person of the theatre I have undying ties to Dionysus (or Bacchus, depending on who you talk to). The holy festivals of Dionysus celebrated life and were the seeds of theatre. They incorporated dance, song, mask, puppetry, and of course copious amounts of alcohol. There is a Greek word ‘temenos’, a noun, which was a parcel of land dedicated to the worship of the gods. Sometimes this was a great and glorious temple, sometimes a simple grove of trees in the forest. In the case of Dionysus, these were the first theaters. I guess I just love that we are rooted in this sacred tradition. Every time we walk out onstage, we are celebrating life.

That being said, I don’t know a whole lot about Dionysus himself. A god I connect to personally is Anansi, a West African god often personified as a spider. He has this deceitful, mischievous thing going on, but he is also the storyteller of the pantheon. A trickster with a silver-tongue, he can convince anyone to do anything. In fact, he came to be a storyteller by tricking and capturing several other gods and then selling them to the sky god (think Zeus) in exchange for all the stories the sky god possessed. What I really like about him is he is this small, vulnerable spider, but he uses his intelligence and guile to prevail over creatures more powerful than himself.

What's the strangest fact about the ancient world or glam rock that you've learned from this experience?

I learned that so frequently in Greek mythology is someone torn apart, limb from limb, by a crazed mob that they actually have a word for it: sparagmos. Funnily enough, most of the examples of sparagmos occur during the festivals of Dionysus. So you have this awesome celebration of humanity and life devolving into something animalistic and deadly. Crazy.

If you were Emperor for a day, what would be your first decree? 

I would decriminalize cannabis.

Nero/Pseudo previews open at The Shop at Fort Fringe on Friday May 2. Find out more about the play at WSC Avant Bard. Tickets are now on sale.

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