Happy Friday from The Scene Shop!! Here’s another great interview with an awesome STL Theatre person- take a look!
Erik Kuhn is an actor, technician, designer & stage combatant. While studying drama at Washington University in St Louis he worked as a technician; learning skills he now employs as a freelance theater professional. Shortly after that, he was introduced to stage combat. Since his first workshop, he has continued training with the SAFD & DAI and is now a DAI Associate Instructor. Locally, as an actor, technician, & fight director, he has worked on over 65 shows with professional companies & educational institutions.
Q: What was your first experience in theatre?
When I was about 6 years old, my family got involved in a production about Abraham Lincoln through Theater at the Park at Lincoln’s New Salem State Historic Site. My brother & I were two of several children in the show, and at one point, we played Lincoln’s two young sons. As Tad, I had one short question to ask Papa Lincoln while he was telling us a story. I remember this show in particular because one night I got so caught up looking out over the audience into the stage lights, I completely missed my cue & almost didn’t remember my single line.
Q: What is the best piece of career advice anyone has ever given you?
I actually have two pieces of advice that I reference all the time. One of my teachers used to say, “To be successful, you need to be at least two of these three: talented, on time, easy to work with.” Having a good attitude & a good work ethic will get you far, even if you’re not that talented or struggle with punctuality like me. In a similar vein, don’t to be afraid to ask questions – especially doing tech work. Better to feel stupid about asking than waste time/money/resources because you don’t know what you’re doing.
Q: Tell us about a backstage or onstage mishap you lived through.
Back in college, I was in the ensemble for a mainstage productin of Midsummer. In the design, the orchestra pit was dropped down the full 12 feet and a ramp was built, so actors could get onstage by going through the understage trap room and up the ramp. After weeks of rehearsal, during our first night in the actual theater, I was making a very quick entrance from back of house. As I ran down the steps for the first time, I realized I was going way too fast. I barely had control over my momentum and my feet…and I was headed right towards the pit. I was able to make a hard left and avoid it, but I stepped funny and distinctly heard my foot pop. Couldn’t walk on it, so I sat out the rest of rehearsal and later at the hospital learned I’d torn a ligament in my foot. Thankfully, I was only an ensemble member, so they were able to do the show without me. Also thankfully, I was able to switch from a cast to a walking boot about three weeks later, just in time to start blocking a two-person show I was working on.
Q: What is your dream role/show?
I would love to play Hal in “Henry IV” or “Henry V” or better yet, the arc of all three. I’d love a chance to revisit the role of Orpheus in Sarah Ruhl’s “Eurydice.” That’s also a show I’d love to be involved with as a designer or technician.
Q: What is your current guilty TV Pleasure?
Probably “Iron Fist.” I’m a sucker for the Marvel Cinematic Universe and really enjoy the majority of their stuff – especially the Netflix shows. “Iron Fist” is definitely not up to par, but I’m watching anyways!
Grace Austin is a STL area director and educator.
See her work at gracemaustin.com