Backstage: Evalyn Hansen

You may have seen actor Dayvin Turchiano in "Deathtrap" and "Glengarry Glen Ross" at Oregon Stage Works. Most recently he starred in "I Hate Hamlet" at Camelot Theatre, and he will be appearing in Camelot's "A Few Good Men" when it opens Feb. 2. Turchiano is also a computer software entrepreneur and an assistant lacrosse coach at Southern Oregon University. With his bachelor's degree in theater, he studied acting at the American Conservatory Theater and film acting at Yale. Turchiano chose to live in Ashland where he could enjoy family life and still be involved in theater. We met over lunch at Dragonfly in Ashland.

DT: My dream is to work with a company of actors in repertory, do different shows and perform a wide variety of work, even with a small company. It doesn't have to be a huge organization. I enjoy working with the same actors time after time, developing ideas in rehearsal, that's the fun part.

EH: When did you know that you wanted to act?

DT: Truthfully, my aunt used to take us to Summer Stock Theatre. In New York in the summertime, they would do children's shows in huge theaters, usually theater in the round, and they would stage "Peter Pan" or "Pinocchio," all those different famous fairy tales. I would sit there and watch, and would be so taken that here are live people doing this, telling this story right now. They would run right down the aisle right next to you. That left an impression on me.

When I went to college, I got interested in politics and theater. I chose to study theater. I took an acting course, and had a knack for it, mainly because I could focus. The whole preparation part was something that was familiar to me from athletics, where I could take something and rehearse it, prepare, and then go and do it. It's like game day. When I was acting, I noticed that I wouldn't even see a crowd. Lights would be on, it would be dark, and I was just doing my thing. That has actually carried me throughout. Even in an intimate space, when I'm on stage, I'm focused on the other actor, what I want, and what I'm doing to get it.

There are other aspects that I have enjoyed, like dialect work, stage combat and rehearsal, just the exploration of rehearsal. The best work is when you meld the director and the actors together and come up with the best ideas.

EH: Why are we so keen on live theater?

DT: It's different every time. I find new things in performance on stage, and it will change a moment. It still is staying true to the direction, but it deepens the work. As soon as you get an audience, there is this other whole entity in the room, it's not just individual people, it's an entity. I get hyper-focused on what I'm doing when there's an audience in the room. It doesn't matter the size. It almost comforts me. There's that feedback. It affects how you do things. It's like they say, it is the fourth wall, the missing character. It's the last phase of what you're doing. Until you open a show or preview it, you just don't have the polish.

EH: How does politics relate to theater?

DT: Theater reflects humanity onto itself. We can laugh at ourselves, we can think in new ways, see things from several sides rather than just one, which is generally the stumbling block in politics. Government gets hung up because people can't move from their positions. If we had more ways of understanding, I think things would run a lot smoother.

Evalyn Hansen is a writer and director living in Ashland. She trained as an actor at the American Conservatory Theater and is a founding member of San Francisco's Magic Theatre. Reach her at evalyn_robinson@yahoo.com.