Review Fix chats with actor Matt de Rogatis, who discusses his role as the title character in the upcoming production of “Richard III” later this year at the 124 Bank Street Theater in Manhattan’s West Village.
Review Fix: How did you get involved in this project?
Matt de Rogatis: Well, I’ve known Austin for about two and a half years now and we have always talked about working together one day in an actor/director capacity. We came close in 2016 to doing a show at 59E59 Theaters but the timing just wasn’t right. Last summer we met and talked about doing Richard together. It’s taken some time to make it official but here we are.
Review Fix: What is it like to work with Austin Pendleton?
de Rogatis: It’s an honor. He knows everything about everything when it comes to the theatre. In the summer of 2016 he coached me when I played Hamlet. I remember for weeks I was having such difficulty playing this one scene with the character of Polonius. I just didn’t know what to do with it and it was really frustrating me. I brought up my concerns with Austin and literally, within seconds, he gave me such great advice and helped me look at the scene from an entirely different perspective. What was once a scene that gave me such trouble became something that I looked forward to playing every night. On top of being such a legend and consummate professional, he’s also a sweet guy and a joy to be around. I’m looking forward to beginning the process of Richard III with him.
Review Fix: What kind of performers are you looking to iron out the rest of the cast?
de Rogatis: Well certainly that is mostly going to be up to Austin. I know he has made offers already to some people that he knows and trusts. Obviously I have some people in mind that I’d like to be involved as well. It’s all being talked about. Serious and dedicated. Those are the types of people we want to work with. I know that is going to be the cast we end up having.
Review Fix: How have your prior roles prepared you for this one?
de Rogatis: Well, I’ve played Hamlet haha. Richard III is going to be a challenge not unlike that. Fortunately I’ve played some really great, leading roles in my career thus far so I’m no stranger to the challenging moments. Nor do I shy away from them. I’ll push myself to the ‘nth degree like I always do and I’ll have a really great director whom I have some history with helping me every step of the way.
Review Fix: What has your research process been like?
de Rogatis: Long way to go as it relates to that. Right now I’ve just been reading book after book after book on Richard III. I’ve watched lots of documentaries on him as well. There’s so much to uncover. From his psychology to his suspected physical deformities I’m just trying to get a real understanding of who he was. With still roughly 5 months to go before we open, I can’t even imagine where my research is gonna take me. Ask me again in a few months and I’ll have a very different answer.
Review Fix: How will this production be different from prior versions of Richard the III?
de Rogatis: Well Austin has come up with a great idea for the show. It’s something that he has always wanted to do with Richard III and it’s so cool to be a part of it. What he is going to do is combine the text of Henry VI Part III with the text of Richard III. The reason for doing this is to show the character arch of Richard. In the play Richard III itself, we start off with Richard already an evil man but we don’t see how he got there and the events that shaped his tyranny. By preceding Richard III with scenes from Henry Part III we get to see his Machiavellian rise to the throne and how he goes from a doting, loyal, younger brother to King Edward IV to one of the most controversial, polarizing and evil men in history. Think of it as Hannibal and The Silence of the Lambs being combined to tell one fantastic story. That’s what we are going to do this summer.
Review Fix: Why does Shakespeare still matter?
de Rogatis: Oh Shakespeare is timeless. He will always matter. 500 years from now, people will still be doing Shakespeare. I believe that.
Review Fix: What are you looking forward to the most with this project?
de Rogatis: I’m looking forward to putting in all the hard work and bringing another character to life. I’m looking forward to another very successful production.
Review Fix: Anything else you’d like to add?
de Rogatis: Yes we have lots of great things planned for the show. Tickets will be going on sale relatively soon and I urge everyone to go to our website at www.PROVEAVILLAIN.com for all the updates as they come in. The website is gonna be how the story gets told before we go live on August 1st. The whole process will be documented on there so yes, keep going to the website for news, interviews and more information as it becomes available.