pictured (left to right): Fred Sullivan Jr., Brian McEleney, Anne Scurria and Mauro Hantman in Twelfth Night, directed by Brian McEleney at Trinity Rep. Set designs by Eugene Lee, costumes by William Lane, lighting by John Ambrosone. (Photo: Mark Turek)
by Becca Kidwell
In these harsh economic times, it is difficult to imagine having the same job at the same company for twenty-six years. It is even more difficult to imagine having a theatre job for longer than the run of one show. Brian McEleney of Trinity Rep has done both. This year, he continues his joyful romp through life as director of Trinity Rep’s productions of Absurd Person Singular and The Crucible and actor in The Completely Fictional—Utterly True—Final Strange Tale of Edgar Allan Poe.
Although he did a few plays in high school, it was not until college when he started to think about a theatrical career. As a senior at Trinity College (where one of his classmates was Anne Scurria—now a fellow company member), McEleney was accepted to Yale and “that convinced me that this could be a serious career, and I’ve done almost nothing else ever since.” He first taught at Princeton University and The Bread Loaf School of English. Since 1981, he has taught at Trinity Rep and is currently the head of acting for the Brown/Trinity M.F.A. Program.
With successful productions both in acting and directing, I ask him which he prefers:
“Hard to say which I like more; it’s kind of like asking which of your children is your favorite… However, preproduction work as a director is tremendous fun — thinking about the play, imagining what the production should look and feel like, finding big ideas that will tie the whole thing together. And also, when you’re directing, the dreaded labor of learning lines isn’t an issue. However, after the play opens you’re pretty much done. As an actor, I love the performing aspect — the fact that you get to do it eight times a week that you get a new chance every day to make it better and deeper. I love the athletic aspect of acting that you always have to be doing your absolute best and giving the play to a new audience every night.” Continue reading