Friday, January 30, 2009

20 questions with Patrick Treadway

Bobo: Let's do the bio. Leave out the boring parts, and don't slur your words the way you usually do. Sit up and be articulate for once.
P.T.: No guarantees!

Bobo: Where did you go to elementary, middle and high school, and who was your meanest teacher?
P.T.: The following is from a Name-Dropping bio I posted a few years ago, under the pretense that I might be Notable, Not For What I've Done, but for the Whoms I've Done It With.
Here is a way-watered-down excerpt for you:

I skipped kindergarten and went to Montclair Elementary in Oakland, Calif., from 1965-71. In my first- and second-grade classes were future L.A. Times staff writer Mark Barabak; Michael Meese, the late son of Edwin Meese, later U.S. Attorney General to Ronald Reagan (Reagan was governor of California at the time, and Mike's sharing day was usually stories about going to Sacramento and eating Ronnie's jelly beans); also my first-grade "girlfriend", Martha Moxley, whose tragic fame initially occurred when she was murdered in 1975, and then more fame in the late '90s, when conservative talk-show host and infamous perjurer Mark Fuhrman took on the case against Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel.

In 1969, my grandmother ("Gram") signed up my sister and me for San Francisco Children's Opera (which was huge in S.F. 25-30 years prior). We rode the bus over [from Oakland] to San Francisco after school (at 9, 10 years old), and got a ride back at night. I did a number of shows with SFCO (8? 10?) at the high school at Arguello and Geary.

In 1972, I was living at Gram's, and attending El Dorado Intermediate in Concord, where Gram taught Spanish. [BTW, Gram was my toughest, possibly meanest teacher, intentionally avoiding any nepotism accusations]. I was 12 years old, in Oh, Kay! at Oakland Civic Theatre, and I played young Cohan in George M! at the Contra Costa Musical Theatre, Walnut Creek, Calif.

In 1974, Gram enrolled me in American Conservatory Theater's Young Conservatory, which was directed by Vivian Vance's sister, Lou Ann Graham. There I made friends with Annette Holloway, who was dubbed the Corn Nut Princess, because her grandfather Albert invented Corn Nuts.
Also attending A.C.T. was Mary Frances Crosby, and sometimes her Mom Kathryn would come collect her. (Alas, no papa Bing.)

I was cast in the role of young Prince Edward in Richard III at the Geary Theatre, directed by
A.C.T.'s artistic director William Ball. [As a college freshperson, Bobo saw this production from the nosebleed seats; he remembers thinking that the cast was outstanding except for this skinny kid who played one of the princes.] Bill became a friend of sorts for a few years before he moved to L.A. and I moved here. He wrote a nice letter of recommendation for me. He also wrote a well-known book on directing, A Sense of Direction. I am unexpectedly listed on the dedication page among some great names - actors with whom he worked, alphabetically. So that lands me right before Cicely Tyson, (Denzel's a little further down). This was clearly a gift to a hasn't-been.

Randall Duk Kim played R3, and 30 years later, I found Randy's makeup techniques in Richard Corson's Stage Makeup textbook (the makeup bible) while I was adjunct teaching at North Idaho College. Randy Kim was also "The Keymaker" in Matrix Reloaded (pleh! on both sequels!). Harry Hamlin was in that R3 and a student at the conservatory as well — a very nice guy.

On my 15th birthday, backstage, I got a cake with two plastic War of the Roses knights on it, painted to look like the costumes designed by Bob Blackman, who later designed the costumes for Star Trek TNG (and the other STs). Klingon warriors do dress suspiciously like Richard's army.
Later that season, I played young Horatio in Horatio, about H. Alger Jr., with the grown Horatio played by Daniel Davis (The Nanny, Star Trek TNG, and Clarence in R3). Sydney Walker (the old man in the film Prelude to a Kiss) was Horatio Sr., and later my acting teacher in the 1977 Summer Conservatory. Sydney was also the doctor who gave Ryan and Ali the "bad news" in Love Story.
Peter Donat (Robert's boy) was in Pillars of the Community in 1975, and I also met Tom Stoppard at A.C.T. when he came to see (/advise?) the production of his play Jumpers that season.

Bobo:  What's your first theatrical memory?

P.T.:  1963 — (I was 3) Peter and the Wolf. My older brother was involved in it at Laney Park, I think, in Oakland, Calif. Also the marionette theater at Children's Fairyland in Oakland, same year. So grateful my grandmother took us all to live theater when we were all very young.

What role are you best known for?

Locally, I don't think I am anymore. Nobody ever mentions a role; they'll say, "I've seen you in stuff,"if anything. Ten years ago, I would have said Captain Hook, Will Rogers or Huck Finn or something I guess, but — statute of limitations and all — I haven't really been cast in anything for the past few years to be of much notice, let alone known, I think. (Not the best thing to say in an interview, I know.)

Of course you know I've loved the jobs I've had the last few years over at ARt, but no real stand-out roles there. I personally liked what I did In Humble Boy, and Ed the drunk lawyer in Born Yesterday, for instance, but of course I don't know what the experience of watching them was like. Also, the numbers weren't always great at ARt, so I don't think recent audiences really know any shows I've been in lately, out there anyway. Even among my Spokane/CdA fellow actors/directors, only a very few made it to some of the ARt shows ... I'm guessing (hoping) maybe the drive was too far.
Among the theatre/art community, I think I'm more known for being a prop-building, voice-over band-aid, which is cool. I get the call if there's a need for a severed head, a puppet, a recorded radio announcement or sound effect in a show.
There is also the annual Cathedral and the Arts Christmas show I do with the Spokane Youth Symphony and the Spokane Area Children's Chorus — a lot of people go to that event at St. John's. I've been doing that since '97 (?), so maybe that's known.

On the Internet, however, the role I'm known for is probably the "David Bowie zombie" (a.k.a." Jimmy D" in the credits) in The Video Dead (VHS, 1987).

Right now, here on the Outernet in Spokane, I'm glad I have additional ways of staying creative and making a living — i.e., voice-overs, sculpting, carving, teaching, etc. It's part of why I really love living here.

Best bit of acting advice you ever received?

I don't know if this counts as advice, but studying Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) without a doubt has offered me the most as far as using what I've learned, even re-visiting it and re-learning; and getting inside a characterís head, thinking as if someone else. NLP can be described as the study of subjective experience, and presupposes that every experience, internal and external, has a structure or strategy (ìprogrammingî) that can be mapped and or modeled. So, even rapport between an actor and director can be described as a strategy and modeled in NLP. I first picked it up about 20 years ago, and it has had a huge effect in every area. I make use of it when I teach as well — acting, improv, stage makeup, etc. It is, in my opinion, the
shortest way for anyone to acquire new info or skills. Fascinating stuff.     

Worst job you ever took just to support (directly or indirectly)
your acting addiction?

As a Dancing Pop Bottle in a mall in the Tri-Cities when I first moved here. I was really, really broke, and had to take the bus to Pasco for one looooong afternoon of "costumiliation" — a term I'm sure someone must have coined by now. (Thank you for helping me to re-live that horror.) This was really to support my food-and-water addiction, and by extension, the acting addiction.

When did you first, in a blaze of glory, burst onto the Spokane
theatrical scene?

I moved here in the late '80s, and in 1987, I auditioned at Civic Theatre. I was cast in Bryan Harnetiaux's play Vital Statistics, followed by the Civic's first production of Angry Housewives, both in the Studio Theatre. For the audition for Angry Housewives, I sang "Unforgettable," and peeled off four or five costume layers and changed characters, as I used to do in the band I sang for in the Bay Area shortly before moving here (P.T. & the Pleasers). The first character was a transient old man in gray wig, large overcoat and fake teeth and the last was a skin-tight rocker outfit, with three or four others in between. I got a lot of mileage out of that one audition. I didn't have to audition again until Big River in 1992. 

Mary Starkey told me about recording work at Books in Motion, where she occasionally narrated, and Civic artistic director Betty Tomlinson gave me the audition announcement for the voice and operation of R3U2, the recycling robot who would appear in school assembly programs from 1988-1992, promoting the new recycling collection program and making the new incinerator more palatable to Spokane citizens.

The Betty Tomlinson/Jack Phillips administrations at Civic Theatre were hugely instrumental in starting any Spokane career I may have ever had. When I was looking for work while acting in Civic shows, neither artistic director could pay me as an actor, but both hired
me as a teacher, puppeteer, etc. and helped me land other creative jobs in other venues. And when my house burnt down in 1992, Jack anonymously left bags of groceries for me at the theater. I'm greatly indebted to them both. [The house was in Peaceful Valley, where Treadway still lives. A house-sitter left a candle lit upstairs. Treadway was in California at the time — and came home to a gutted house.]

Why is it that you never send me flowers anymore?

I am so sorry — I didn't realize that the court order had been lifted and that it was OK again!
On an unrelated topic, why didn't you mention me in Humble Boy?
Wait, I played a gardener. It is related.

photo: P.T. with Patty Duke and Carter J. Davis in Humble Boy, Actors Rep, April 2007

What book are you most embarrassed about having never read?

I cannot finish An Actor Prepares to save my life. I have tried, out of acting-teaching guilt, more times than I can count. It just can't be done, the content is so obvious now, other writers have since explained his method so much more clearly ... and that's true of his other books too. But what's more, I don't think anyone has ever read any Stanislavski. They all just probably lie about it.

It's like A Brief History of Time: a fly-off-the-shelf, record-breaking best-seller that no one has ever actually read. (OK, I did "read" Hawkingís book, but I understood maybe 2 percent.)

What play are you most embarrassed about having never read?
There are probably so many I should have read and haven't. But I guess I'm more embarrassed that I'm not embarrassed about not having read them. J  These modern times we live in, any play is available pretty much at a moment's notice should it be needed for something. Not like that flammable Alexandrian Library. What a bummer that was, remember? The only
possible upside to that fire was the resulting amnesty on overdue fines.

What cast (that you were part of) was most fun during rehearsals and
the run of the show?

No doubt there are any number from my childhood/teen years that I could mention here, but those are almost as if they happened to an entirely different person now. 
So if I may pick from the recent ones, it was great fun to go with Children's Theatre to competition in Harrisburg, Pa., in Kathie Doyle Lipe's Pinocchio; and of course during the Tuna
shows, Michael Weaver and Bill Marlowe and I laughed til we almost puked at least once every day; but I think Moonlight and Magnolias might be a pretty good candidate. We, the cast and crew, were all already good friends, with the exception of newcomer Wonder Russell, who
immediately won everyone over anyway, of course — but for instance, the slapping scene and the peanut fight rehearsals were a really effective playground-type bonding experience. Immediate emotional access to that during the performances. That was a really great combination of really good friends — Weaver, John Oswald, Wonder, Tralen Doler and I.

Why aren't you acting in a bigger city?

I suppose the brutally honest answer is that it's so affordable to live here, and even when the acting roles are few (like now), I'm still able to work as an artist in other mediums here.
Also, I have two dogs and two cats and I'm buying my house here. That's totally advancing up a level, maybe two, in the Arts Video Game.

You're such a gentle spirit, kind and funny. Now describe the last time you flew into a blind rage.

Aw, that's sweet. You know, since I got these two dogs, my behavior has changed. I used to freely shout the F word at vanishing TV remotes and sitch, but these dogs have been previously conditioned (not by me) to respond with great anxiety to that word, so those rages are kept to a
However ... ONCE, some guy wrote that it was embarrassing to see Troy and me wasting our talents in drivel like The Fantasticks! If I ever find out who that f'in' &%$* was....

I once wrote that it was embarrassing to see you and Troy Nickerson
wasting your talents in drivel like The Fantasticks

photo:  P.T. and Troy Nickerson in The Fantasticks, Interplayers, December 2005

Well ...  The important thing is you think we have talent to waste. Thanks! J.
You know of course that cardinal rule — that we can't blame any audience for their response, whether it was the response we intended or not. Naturally, an embarrassment response wasn't intended, but there ya go — I was just glad for the work that month. Oldest profession and all that.
Audience relationships with The Fantasticks are not unlike those with the Grateful Deadin a sense: Any article on the topic and review of any particular performances are only useful and
understandable when they are by and for Deadheads. Non-Deadheads won't even read the piece. 

Don't you just hate critics?

Heck, no. Such an extreme emotion as hate should be reserved for monsters like Hitler and drivel like The Fantasticks!

What's your worst personality trait?

I would say I'm too strict with myself, but ... I can't allow myself to answer this question.

What virtue do you consider overrated?

Of the seven? I think Chastity ought to be consolidated with Temperance and called simply "Self-control," thus freeing up a spot for something more modern, like "Netiquette." 

Directors can range from dictatorial to laissez-faire, from detail-obsesssed to big-picture-visualizing, from demeaning to encouraging, from well-prepared but rigid to casually prepared but flexible. Which do you prefer?

I prefer the director who has learned how to effectively communicate her/his creative idea(s) to the other teammates and artists who will bring it into abject existence. Having a Grand Vision is nice, but if it can't be communicated to the others who will physically realize it, it becomes some other product entirely separate from that original Vision, for good or bad. (Sometimes for really good.)
Assuming that ability to effectively communicate is in place, then of those choices provided in your question, I think flexibility combined with any number of the other traits could be
potentially brilliant.
BTW, I've never experienced nor can I imagine a case where demeaning me, or any actor, would be a healthy directing technique — for the show or for the director or for the director's
unattended car in the parking lot. J

What's the production you most regret never having seen?

Ian McKellen was doing Richard III at the Curran as I was relocating to the S.F. Bay Area briefly in '92. So sorry I missed that.

Now, don't just laugh off the following:  If you could change one thing about the way Michael Bowen writes his reviews,  it would be ...

I wouldn't ever laugh that off. But it does presuppose that I'm familiar with your work. I'll have to start reading them. Who are you with again?

Really — even if I did want to change something about the way you write reviews, it would still necessarily be from the viewpoint of an actor, a demo which, let's face it, is not ultimately
for whom these reviews are written; they are intended for the theater-going demo, right? And I am not as much in that category as I'd like to be. Plus, I would feel terribly under-qualified to dare to give advice to a professional writer anyway.

Are your inmost secrets kept in boxes, on computer disks, or in your mind?

Inmost, that's gotta be in mind, right? Since "sealed behind drywall" and "buried in the
back yard" weren't on the list.

Name a woman's role that you'd love to play.

I've never really thought about that!
Predictably, Cruella DeVil, or some other pointy villainess.

What do you notice about plays in performance that you wouldn't if you weren't an actor?

It's impossible to know that of course, but I think if I hadnít both acted and directed, I wouldn't notice or be able to discern the differences between a directorial decision and an acting choice. Sometimes it's difficult to turn off that internal observer commentary track.

Acting, even if it's great and pleasurable, ultimately is sad because it's evanescent, transient — the people go away, the show will never be done in just that way ever again.

Yep ... almost like a microcosm of (a) life itself ... people do go away, this life will never be done just this way again....
I think a lot of the fun of playing the life microcosm in theatre is that it seems to especially model that reality of life's transience, only this time with some little bit of control. Every
stage-life is really like playing at Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey.
Man, if someone in literature could just hook up "the stage" to "all the world" as a metaphor.... 

Don't you find yourself dwelling on the sad aspects inordinately? How do you get yourself to remember the happy parts?

If and when a group of us gather to create a really fun and temporary theatrical experience, then the carrot is to do it again, to reach that level of joy, or even more, only this
time, let's do it with THIS story ... and that's that famous "theatre bug" what makes ya come back.  Maybe that metaphor spreads out into incarnations, who knows?

I know that same theatre bug phenomenon makes a few performers terribly sad, but nonetheless, the bug wins and gets the same outcome ... those sad performers often immediately take on another show as a way of dealing with (or not dealing with) that pain. Me, I don't get sad about shows ending. Reminiscent sometimes later, perhaps. But I'm almost always working on some next project backstage once a show opens. Useful A.D.D., I call it.

It's not theater unless ...

... there is a perceiving audience. If an actor falls in the forest, and there is no one else to see and/or hear and react to it (internally or externally — even if the reaction is, meh), then there ain't no theater going on.
I believe that archetypal theater is ever the broadcaster, and of course a broadcast is meaningless and useless without a receiver.
Or, more efficiently:
Without an audience, it's just rehearsal.



At January 31, 2009 1:18 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Patrick is one of the finist actors in the Inland Northwest. He is also one of the kindest and has high artistic standards and scruples. I think it's terrific you gave him this exposure, Bobo. He deserves it.

At January 31, 2009 1:57 PM , Blogger Bobo the Theater Ho said...

Twice, Patrick and I have tried for an interview/lunch date, but he hasn't been feeling well. So Bobo ended up e-mailing questions -- with the result being P.T.'s delightful and funny responses. (But I was the one who first brought up the bad review of The Fantasticks. Really.)

At January 31, 2009 3:58 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think he is a bitter and self righteous person - but to each his own.

At February 01, 2009 2:56 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

well, again, neither "bitter" nor "self-righteous" are responses I was going after. I'm sincerely sorry you feel that way.
Is this a result of our personal conversation or from these 20 questions, Anonymous?

At February 03, 2009 9:13 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loved this interview!

There's so much I didn't know about P.T. and it was really fascinating.

I'm up for reeding as many of these interviews as you see fit.

At February 03, 2009 2:01 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry Kasey. I'd say after Anonymous 3:58, no one is going to want to do any more of these interviews, it's the end of 20 Questionss. As long as people can take swips at the ones who put themselves out there anonymously, they're not going to want to take the risk. Who amoung us is that big a masichist?

At February 03, 2009 9:25 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Clearly I should have spelled reading correctly.

At February 04, 2009 9:42 AM , Blogger Bobo the Theater Ho said...

I disagree. I hope to do more of these interviews; I'm making a call or two today to set them up.
"bitter and self-righteous" is so clearly wrong, so clearly outside reality, that I thought it was worth approving the post just to show how out-of-touch and bizarre some people's opinions are.
Patrick replied to it, and evidently hasn't gotten a response. That's because there's nothing to say to substantiate that about his character. It's not masochistic when small, clueless minds decide they need to vent. It's just dandruff that you brush off your shoulder and get on with your life.

At February 04, 2009 10:23 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hear, hear, Bobo!

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this interview and learning more about Patrick than I've been able to pick up in 20 years of crossing paths with him. Anyone who has had even the slightest contact with Patrick knows that "bitter" and "self-righteous" are not words that even belong on the same page with a description of Patrick. I'm only sorry he had to see these words misapplied to himself.

It occurs to me that the reason Kasey and I and, no doubt, many others are able to learn so much we didn't know about Patrick through this interview is that not only is Patrick not bitter and not self righteous, but unlike many theatre people, he's not self-centered and not full of himself, and hasn't spent 99% of his time offstage talking about only himself.

Please keep up this interview series! There are many other local talents whose stories I'd like to learn.

At February 04, 2009 9:36 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Confused Bobo. How has Patrick been able to reply to the rude remark? Not in this post that we can see.

At February 05, 2009 11:25 AM , Blogger Bobo the Theater Ho said...

Patrick wrote in; somehow I managed to lose it in transit. Sorry.
The gist was: Sorry if I offended, don't know how I made the writer (either in this interview or in real life elsewhere) feel that I was bitter or self-righteous. Willing to discuss with you if you write to my Website at

At February 05, 2009 4:47 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At February 05, 2009 4:52 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, Bobo -

I thought it was also an opportunity to point out the adage I mentioned about audiences: namely that regardless of your intention, your audience decides how to interpret the performance, not the performer. In NLP,
"the meaning of your communication is the response that you get."

The uncomfortable reality for me is that this person had this response to something I did, said or wrote, even though (I'm fairly certain) I have never intended to appear bitter or self-righteous.

I'm truly glad, Bobo, that I don't have to worry that you're editing out comments to reflect only one point of view. Very much appreciated.

Finally, I wonder if this writer has considered that it seems a little bitter and self-righteous to post such a comment at the very outset of a great idea for a new series here. Note I say that the behavior is bitter. Not the person.

And thank you AnonyMice, for all your kind words!!

At February 05, 2009 5:12 PM , Blogger Bobo the Theater Ho said...

Actually, not a NEW series entirely:
See 20 Questions on this blog with ...

Patrick McHenry-Kroetch, 23 Aug 07
Kathie Doyle-Lipe, 17 Feb 06
Tracy Vaughan, 7 Sept 05

At February 05, 2009 5:20 PM , Blogger Bobo the Theater Ho said...

As you'll see, I found P.T.'s original riposte to the "bitter and self-righteous" assertion; above. Also, don't read too much into a comment being deleted, above -- P.T. sent in a comment, posted it, then added a line and posted it again.

SO self-indulgent. What an egotist.
Indeed, speaking personally, I find him bitter and self-righteous.

At February 06, 2009 12:22 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

[sniff... sniff]
If only my dear mother were alive to read what you potty-mouthed crap-slingers have written about me. [sniff]
Excuse me, there's something in my eye!


At February 09, 2009 11:38 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah - can't stand the guy! Always tryin' to make me laugh! Always sayin' nice things and tryin' to make me feel good about myself!
He's a butt-head!
Just ask Steve and Pacita!

At February 11, 2009 3:00 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who are Steve and Pacita?

At February 11, 2009 4:45 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Patrick was my teacher as a kid at Spokane Civic Theater and at Stage door to the Future at Eastern campus summer camp. He was the funniest teacher I've ever had! The stuff he said was like he practiced come backs but he couldn't have known what we were going to ask or say! It was like stand up comedy in his classes.
I think Steve and Pacita are the dogs he rescued?

At February 13, 2009 10:25 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, I do also occasionally teach stuff, it's not exclusively comedy. This person clearly did not receive enough beatings.

(And yes! Steve & Paquita are my dogs!
Yay! Dogs in the blogs!)

At February 15, 2009 9:53 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bitter...self-righteous? Hardly appropriate adjectives for Mr. Treadway.

I prefer compassionate...dedicated and kind. I worked with Patrick on a Civic show maybe 20 years ago. The director was a divisive screamer with a knack for total verbal "evisceration". Patrick could not have been nicer or more supportive in a very unfortunate situation. So go suck eggs Miss Anonymous and stop slinging anonymous insults from your mother's basement. rock...and is when they stop talking about you...that you really have to worry!


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