Joe Van Slyke Interview

In December 2005 Artistic Associate Linda Gillum interviewed Joe Van Slyke, who at the time was working as the Assistant Director to James Bohnen on Remy Bumppo’s production of Tartuffe and had just finished a run of Aren’t We All.

Linda Gillum: What brought you to Remy Bumppo?

Joe Van Slyke: It was Hapgood. Annabel asked me to read for James five years ago. I didn’t know the company at all at that point. I knew Annabel and I had worked with David Darlow. I think I auditioned for James years ago for another company.

What was your favorite role with Remy Bumppo?

That’s a hard question. If I had to choose one, it would be Hirst in No Man’s Land. It was really tough and chunky, rewarding.

What was your most challenging role?

Hirst. And Harry in A Delicate Balance.

Really? Why?

Because he’s underwritten and I believe I made sense of him.

What feels timely about this production of Tartuffe?

The political arena and the nature of seduction, not just in a sexual sense but in its many guises. Seduction isn’t the only theme in the play, but also the extent to which seduction leads to one’s self. No one gets seduced unless they’re willing to be seduced.

What was the most interesting thing about playing the role of Lord Grenham in Aren’t We All?

The most fun thing is the ability to shock, the delight he takes in puncturing the helium balloons of conventionality. In this particular play, he’s the moral compass – that’s delightful to play.

This question comes from James [Bohnen]. During tech for Holiday, you had a chair which you claimed for your character. In the end, that chair almost became another character. Why did you choose that chair?

Papa rules the brood and needs a chair of his own. The other chairs were Victorian, feminine, a reminder of his wife who was no longer there. The real reason? Because it was the only comfortable chair on the set!

What keeps you connected to Remy Bumppo?

The people and the work. Their engagement with the world. The honesty of the work.