Meet the Actors: Tim Jeffryes as Daddy In The American Dream

Jeffryes Head_Aloha Friends of TAG!  It’s that time again when we get to introduce you to the actors, directors, and the production staff that bring our shows to life.  I would like to start things off with Tim Jeffryes, who graced our stage last with his powerful performance in Defiance, during TAGs 2014-2015 Season. I had the honor of playing his wife, and I get to do so again in The American Dream.

Tim Jeffryes plays “Daddy” in The American Dream, and I talked with him about the role, his work as an actor and a few bits about his personal life.

Aloha Tim, I’m happy to see you again! Congratulations on being cast in The American Dream, by Edward Albee – arguably America’s greatest playwright.  Tell us about some of your past work in theatre, please.

As you know, I most recently appeared at TAG in Defiance and Cat On a Hot Tin Roof.  At MVT, I appeared in Tommy, The Toxic Avenger, Speed the Plow and Dividing the Estate, and at DHT in The Butler Did It. I have worked in New York with the New York Shakespeare Festival, Westside Repertory Company and the Oasis Theatre Company.  In Hawaii, before living in New York, I also worked with HTY, ACT and the American Conservatory Theatre.  I have a degree in Acting from the NYU Tisch School of the Arts, where I trained with Olympia Dukakis.  I also owned Theatre-In-The-Schools while living in NYC, Performing for over 1 million school children with eight original productions covering historical subjects such as Thomas Edison, Lewis and Clark, the Constitution and Stephen Foster.

Wow, Tim!  You have an impressive resume and excellent training.  Can you tell me how you got into the theatre?

When I was very young, our parents wanted us to give recitals at Christmas-time, using the instruments we learned to play during the rest of the year.  When we whined that we didn’t really want to, we were told we wouldn’t get any presents otherwise.   In time, we came to learn that we could do skits and that those skits effectively killed time and decreased our need to play music.  Over time the “show” became mostly skits.

That’s funny and a bit tragic.  I think I was made to clean house around Christmas time and “cooperate” or I would not get any gifts; I am sure my mom had a direct line to Santa.  But I digress, so it was living room performances that catch it going? Where there any particular actors that you admired that also inspired you?

Meryl Streep is the finest actor, male or female, that I have ever seen.  I tend towards character acting because I feel that I am more limited in terms of emotional acting.   I admire Streep because she is both and is 100% effective at both.  My other heroes are Jack Nicholson and Anthony Hopkins.

Those are fantastic heroes to have, no doubt about it. And I would agree with you regarding Meryl Streep. She is amazing and can do just about anything she sets her mind too.  It would be great to hear about some of her crazy theatre experiences, as well.  After all, we all have them.  Right?

Ha! Forgetting my lines in “Speed the Plow” for 90 seconds and trying to survive.

Oh my!  I would die, just melt right there on stage!  But lines are hard. I mean, you have them in your head and then “poof!” It drives me nuts. No matter how you go about learning your lines, that type of thing can happen easily. With that said, we all have our very own techniques for line learning; how do you learn your lines?

I try to learn my lines somewhat detached from the actual plot of the play.  Literally by rote. So literally, in fact, that I initially learn them backwards, 1 page at a time. Then forwards, 1 page at a time. Then backwards 2 pages at a time, etc until I can run the entire play backwards and forwards. It’s a technique of my own devising and it’s an attempt to not learn the lines with “line readings” attached. The goal is to have them, like a quiver of arrows (or box of tools) at my disposal during rehearsal. This forces me to really listen to the other actors. If I have the luxury, I react to what the other characters say to me as myself and then check to see if there are any arrows or tools at my disposal that match my response. Crazy, no?

I am not sure it’s crazy, but I’m not sure it would work for me either.  Line learning, I have found, is a very personal thing in the end.  Let’s move to this play By Albee. What is it about The American Dream that speaks to you personally?

That life really is kind of existential, and that we are often very separate from each other emotionally and spiritually.

So true but also a bit sad.  Albee is very existential and, at times, surreal.  Especially his early plays.  Like The Zoo Story, which TAG is also doing.  There is something about the language.

Yes, but I can’t describe it.

For me, I notice the use of repetition and the phraseology that is timeless and yet it’s also a bit awkward; purposefully so. What is it about your character, Daddy, that speaks to you?

His inability to break out of the shell of who he appears to be.

A problem for us all, right?  Well are you ready for the strange question of the run: If you lived in an Escher Universe, how would you get to work?

Slide!

Perfect!  I am so looking forward to working with you again Tim, and I know audiences are excited to see you once again at TAG!  Thank you for spending some time with us today.

Don’t miss Tim Jeffryes in The American Dream. 

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