Director and producer Joseph Parks has been involved in the theatrical industry in New York for several years. An actor himself, Joseph has also appeared in movies and television shows. Currently, he is a member of the AEA and a company member of Theatre East and Shakespeare NYC. Moreover, he serves as Associate Producer for The Acting Company and is the Co-Artistic Director of the Wandering Bark Theatre Company. One of Joseph’s most recent projects is directing “Hedda (Gabler)” and he recently spoke to AXS about his experiences working on this play and in the theater industry in general:
AXS: What inspired you to get involved with theater?
Joseph Parks (JP): My mother was a huge part of why I got involved in theatre at a very young age. I think she saw things in me that made her encourage me to get involved in local theatre groups when I was growing up in Texas. Her support was mixed with tough love at the same time. I remember when I was twelve auditioning for “Seven Brides For Seven Brothers” and as I walked in the theatre with all High School and College students I was petrified and wanted to go home. I felt too young. I was a very tall twelve-year-old. She made me go in despite my doubts and in the end, I did well, got the part and that show made me want to work in the theatre for the rest of my life. The experience inspired me to continue working on productions throughout my youth.
AXS: Growing up, what shows and/or stories had the biggest impact on you? Why?
JP: Around the same time my mother was both pushing and supporting me, my grandmother also was encouraging my artistic pursuits. She took me to see “Othello” which was my first Shakespeare play to see and at that age we were not even near studying it in school. That sparked an interest in classical theatre, which is the foundation of my whole career in NYC with various classical companies. I also had the privilege of coming to NYC once a year with family and saw my first Broadway show (“Cats”) when I was about eight. I was hooked. I remember being on the grey line tour bus at age eight taking mental notes of where things were so I could remember where to come when I grew up.
AXS: How did you get involved with "Hedda (Gabler)"?
JP: I have wanted to produce “Hedda” for years. It was finally the right time and place for Valerie Redd, my Co-Artistic Director of Wandering Bark Theatre Company and I to do it. We commissioned Matthew Minnicino a year ago and have been developing it ever since. With his presence in the rehearsal room, we are still developing it.
AXS: What most interested you about this play?
JP: What has always interested me and frightened me about Hedda is the idea that the choices one makes compounded with social circumstance and confinements could make you feel that you were trapped in some way and had no way out. I feel like this is such human emotion that we all have felt or feared at one point or another.
AXS: What other plays have you worked on and do you have a favorite?
JP: A couple recent favorite projects I have worked on are “Titus Andronicus” at HERE ARTS and The National Tour of Macbeth with The Acting Company where I am the Associate Producer. I also loved working on “Short Life Of Trouble” at The Access which I also produced with Valerie Redd and our company.
AXS: What would be your “dream project”?
JP: My all-time classical theatre role models are Kenneth Branagh and Mark Rylance. These men have created beautiful art while also being a part of the producing process of their work. I have been involved in both my whole career and have always admired their excellence on both sides of the table. So dream project would be to be in the room with one of them.
AXS: So far, what has been the most rewarding thing about being involved in the theater industry?
JP: The very special personal and professional relationships I have made along my journey.
AXS: Career-wise, where do you see yourself in ten years?
JP: Walt Whitman said “Happiness, not in another place but this place...not for another hour, but this hour.” It's a favorite quote of mine. I try to live my life in place of being happy with where I am so honestly I hope I can maintain the many blessings I have in my personal and professional life while trying to build and grow as an artist and a man. I hope to keep working with the amazing artists in my life and continue to add to the wonderful community around me.
AXS: Do you have any upcoming projects that you would like to mention?
JP: The Acting Company where I am Associate Producer will be producing “Julius Caesar” in rep with a new play by Marcus Gardley called “X.” We begin rehearsals later this fall and I can’t wait to see how both productions develop, tour and run in New York.
AXS: What advice would you give to someone who is aspiring to enter the theater industry?
JP: Say YES. I think for young artists the important thing is to gain experience and learn things about yourself and theatre community. You never know what discoveries about yourself you will make along the way.
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