Arts on the Waterfront: What inspires you?
Mickey Rowe: Poetry inspires me, and real people. Going on long walks by the water or watching different people on the metro transit. Listening to a good book on tape while going on a walk. When you make eye contact on the bus with someone having a genuine connection or understanding and share a knowing smile.
A on the W: What do you think of political art?
Mickey: I think this is a silly question. All art is political in some way or another. Story, art, and music has the power to pull at our heart strings and effect us in a way nothing else can, and that is an incredibly powerful tool. I think everyone subconsciously understands this power on some level. It’s interesting while working hand in hand with more bureaucratic agencies on this project seeing what parts of your art scare those organizations on some level in their ability to rally people and create change. I don’t think this means that art is or should necessarily be about political issues or particular platforms, but I think a love story is political, a kiss is a political act in some way, and it’s how you tell that love story that decides the power of that act. The reason “Ruined” worked so well politically is because it was a human story. And that is all our job really is, finding the human story or human truth people can connect with, there lies the power.
A on the W: What causes artistic blocks? What do you do to solve them?
Mickey: On this project when I’m working on filling out paper work, or getting permits, filling out grants and kickstarters, the “business” side of it, I can easily get out of the creative groove where I actually knew how to make that thing that I’m advertising or pushing on paper. To help me remember or get back in the groove I take my iPod and go for a walk, and either listen to music or RadioLab, or The Moth, and I’m not allowed to come home until I feel that fire in my belly and good / smart ideas are boiling over the pot again.
A on the W: What did you want to be when you grew up?
Mickey: First I wanted to be a garbage truck driver, then I wanted to be a magician, and I actually did a lot of magic and juggling shows all over for school assemblies and company picnics through Middle and High School. I paid for a lot of my schooling at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center by street performing doing a goofy juggling routine and twisting balloons for little kids.
A on the W: Who are your heroes?
Mickey: Right now my huge inspirations are Rebecca Taishmen who is an incredible director in New York and very visual and physical in her work, Rachel Chavkin of the TEAM, Anne Bogart who’s books “And then you act” and “A director prepares” everyone should read. And Pina Bausch.
A on the W: How do you push yourself?
Mickey: I push myself by putting myself in situations where I have no choice but to learn a new skill and do it well. Whether that be doing a musical at Seattle Children’s Theater where I’m going to need to learn to dance 11 shows a week or by creating an event like this that forces me to make something that I think is cool by a hard deadline. I am forced to rise to the occasion and there just isn’t another choice. I’m are in a show, being paid, and am going to have to dance 11 shows a week, that’s just a fact. It’s going to happen no matter what, so I best learn fast and do it as well as I possibly can. With this project it’s just a matter of pushing myself to make and organize something that I genuinely want to see happen in a limited number of weeks. There’s a great Banksy quote, nothing in the world is more common than unsuccessful people with talent, leave the house before you find something worth staying in for.
A on the W: What was the first show you ever saw?
Mickey: The first show I ever saw was “Jack and the Bean Stalk” at Seattle Children’s theater with Auston James as Jack and an amazing puppeteered giant made by the incredible Doug Paasch, I am so lucky to have gotten to work and learn from both of them now and perform two of Doug’s puppets before he passed. I am so lucky to have had that opportunity.
What role would you love to play that you haven’t yet?
Mickey: Right now while I still look 16, or later? Haha, I would love to play Puck in Midsummer, Jason in Rabbit Hole, or Ken in Red while I’m still young. Later I’d love to direct or MC an awesome Brecht like version of Cabaret. Or Godot.
A on the W: Have you experienced any real life actor’s nightmares?
Mickey: Hmm, a real life actors nightmare? Once while I was unicycling in a show at SCT my shoelace got stuck in the unicycles chain (it was a very tall unicycle). That was terrifying and definitely qualified as a nightmare. The whole audience could tell my shoelace was stuck so I was really lucky that I could just make a joke out of it that added to the drama of the event. I just had to cut the shoelace on stage and I’m sure that was the most exciting that routine had ever been for any audience, they loved it. I guess it’s not really a nightmare since the audience and I made it part of the experience and made it add to the event.
A on the W: What kind of artistic training & experience have you had?
Mickey: I basically grew up in the Seattle Opera house/rehearsal studio being in the child chorus and being the little kid that runs around in all of their shows. That was an incredible trial and test ground for a young actor. I owe half of my training to the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center which is an incredible training program, really the best in the world of its kind. Any College or University age actors or directors should go to their website now and apply for one of their education programs, either NTI, NTI Musical Theater, Advanced Directing Semester, Advanced Playwriting Semester, MATS, or Theatermakers. It is worth everything and I promise it will change your life. They taught me how to work, how to memorize, and really just how to think as an actor. How to work smart. The other half I owe to the Seattle Children’s Theater who trusted me more than I trusted myself and gave me the enormous gift of performing in three of their runs. The Children’s Theater does 11 shows a week for ten week long runs, for children. It is an amazing experience. I think all actors should work there at some point. Children’s Theater is where we learn empathy and SCT teaches that to hundreds of kids every day.
Check back next week for interviews for Laurie Roberts, Samantha Stenson, and others. Mickey Rowe is currently appearing in Romeo and Juliet as Romeo and The Nurse. You can read more about Mickey Rowe at www.mickeyrowe.wordpress.com.