Michael Faulkner - Company Member of Parson's Nose Theater
Michael has been part of the Parson’s Nose family since 2001, when he played Valere in The Mi$er. He has been seen in PNT’s productions of The Mischief of Scapin, The School for Wives, Imaginary Invalid, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Streets of South Pasadena, and many Readers’ Theater productions. He directed PNT’s A Comedy of Errors (during which he met his wife Amanda) and the originalThe Pied Piper of Hamlin – the Musical. He has provided sound design to countless PNT productions. When not staring up the Parson’s Nose, he tours with the Reduced Shakespeare Company, makes brief appearances on film and television, and works at other regional theaters including South Coast Repertory, Shakespeare Santa Cruz, The Geffen Playhouse and the Main Street Theater Company in Rancho Cucamonga. Q: Where are you from? What was your family like? A: After being born in Cambridge, England, I was quickly whisked away to grow up mainly in Santa Cruz, California, where I performed in my first professional roles at the age of 14 in Shakespeare Santa Cruz's second season, as "Donalbain" in the Scottish play and "William Page" in The Merry Wives of Windsor. My father is an acclaimed Astrophysicist. While I was good at math I didn't actually like it...I didn't have the patience necessary to do the work and sometimes got the correct answers in incorrect ways...which led me down a creative path rather than a scientific one. But it all came together in my appreciation of Star Trek.
Q: When did you begin acting and how did you get into it? What was your first role? A: The first time I remember thinking acting was something I could "do", was realizing the character of "Spock" on Star Trek was being played by an actor, Leonard Nimoy. I identified with Spock because he was half-human, half-vulcan, and I was half-American, half-British, and felt like an outsider at school. When I realized Mr. Nimoy was an actor I decided it was something I wanted to do. My first role was as a Pilgrim in a second-grade play about Johnny Appleseed, but in 8th grade I played Inspector Clouseau in The Pink Panther Strikes Again, and for three weeks I was the most popular guy in Junior High. I've been impersonating Peter Sellers ever since.
Q: What are your favorite roles you've had a pleasure of playing and why? A: It's hard to pick favorites, because it must be like picking a favorite child. I love them all. I have had the good fortune to do a lot of television commercials, which have rewarded me financially, I have played some Shakespeare leads (Leontes, Petruchio, Malvolio) that were rewarding artistically, and I have toured for 12 years with the Reduced Shakespeare Company all over the world. It's hard to get more rewarding than being paid to travel and make packed houses laugh! I also really enjoy doing readings with Parson's Nose, because often in a rehearsal process I feel like I'm spending the entire three-four week process trying to get back to the spontaneity of the first read-through. Parson's Nose readings have all of that spontaneity!
Q: When you're not performing, how do you like to spend your time? If you weren't an actor, what other profession would you have liked to explore? A: I write and record music. In fact, I have a CD that I've never released. I was the lead singer of a ska band for five years, beginning in High School. I've played drums in a punk band, a funk band, a jazz combo, an "acid jazz" band, and I've played keyboards in a reggae band and a prog-rock band. I love to play and write music and I've enjoyed sound-designing a number of Parson's Nose Theater's full plays! I could never stray very far from being creative - I've also thoroughly enjoyed sound designing and directing several plays for Parson's Nose, including co-directing Everyman, Cendrillon, and singly directing The Pied Piper of Hamlin and A Comedy of Errors - where I met my wife! So Parson's Nose will always have a special place in my heart.
Q: Share a story about "the joys of live theater". Either something ridiculous that happened during a show you were in, something you saw in another production, or any other anecdote about things that can only happen in live theater. A: During that first professional role there was another young actor playing the role of "Fleance," who is murdered onstage. Normally he had to lay onstage for about two minutes and after a blackout would be taken off in the dark by two adult actors. Naturally all of we young performers bonded quite closely during that summer, and we were always very concerned about each other. One performance the adult actors failed to take young Fleance off in the dark after he had been murdered. The lights came back up for the next scene and there he was, still lying there. The stage manager announced over the intercom that he was still on stage and that she would insert a second blackout after this next scene where he could be taken off properly. At that announcement we all ran backstage to have a peek through the curtains to see what was happening. Well, it turns out the next scene is where the news of young Fleance's death is delivered to his father by messenger. It actually added a nice touch to see the body upstage as the message was being relayed, and the father was the most emotional he'd ever been at receiving the news that night. Fleance was almost a perfect professional...there was only one moment during the scene that he is supposed to be offstage where he raised his head off the floor, about an inch, ever so slightly, to see what was happening. He put his head back down and was taken off during the second blackout. As you can imagine, he was complimented by everyone and the two who were supposed to carry him off were properly chastised.
Q: What's the most embarrassing thing that's happened to you personally during a performance? A: It's hard to pick an embarrassing moment because my adage my whole life has been "I don't care whether you are laughing with me or at me - as long as you're laughing." I am quite used to making a complete idiot of myself as long as there is a laugh on the other end, so it takes a LOT to embarrass me. That said, I was in a performance of "The Bible; The Complete Word of God (abridged)" for Reduced Shakespeare Company at some theater somewhere, and normally, the show opens with "Also Spracht Zarathustra being played in blackness." A voice says, "in the beginning there was chaos," and a spotlight flashes on me, standing as Adam, with only a fig leaf covering my private parts. This is a giant fig leaf attached to a flesh-colored dance belt. As I said, I am not afraid to embarrass myself for a laugh. However, on this particular night, I forgot the fig leaf, so I was standing there looking like one of those anatomically neutered G.I. Joe dolls. The audience still laughed, but I felt ridiculous. It's amazing how much security just one fig leaf can provide.