In preparation for the upcoming workshop and reading of NOMS DE GUERRE as part of Pasadena Playhouse's HotHouse series, I connected with our company about their careers in the theatre and the relevant themes of the play. HotHouse readings are by invitation only. Click here to learn more and please enjoy this wonderful interview with cast member, Chris Butler.
JACQUELINE LAWTON: To begin, why did you decide to get into theater? Was there someone or a particular show that inspired you?
Chris Butler: In my freshman year, my high school decided to reinstate funding for an annual theater production. My home room teacher, Doris Johnson suggested I audition. The play was 'Our Town'. I was cast as Editor Webb. And I loved it. After that, I was hooked. I can't remember any of the lines from most of the plays I've been in, but I have never forgotten my first monologue as Editor Webb in 'Our Town'.
JL: NOMS DE GUERRE is a socio-political drama that addresses the U.S. military policy and the damaging impact of PTSD on veterans and their family. Why do you feel this play is relevant to today’s audiences?
CB: The care and attention given (or not given) to our veterans has long been a disturbing issue in this country. This is all the more evident when it comes to the issue of mental health. Being the son of a military man myself, I understand the seriousness of PTSD and the necessity of the military and the entire health care industry to address it more vigorously.
JL: NOMS DE GUERRE also addresses women’s rights and recent restrictions places on health care for women. It’s been 50 years since the Women’s Liberation Movement swept the nation, where do you feel we are in terms of gender relations in the U.S.?
CB: As far as "gender relations" are concerned, I believe we have come a very long way in the last fifty years. I think women and men are "relating" more openly and honestly than we ever have. Unfortunately, I don't think this is fully reflected when it comes to the matter of "gender equality". Equality in the workplace, and the right and respect to govern one's own health are two areas in which we could and should strive to do better.
JL: Which character are you playing? What, if anything, do you have in common with this character’s passions, values, intentions or belief system?
CB: I play Cooper. A good soldier, a good husband, a good friend. Like Cooper, I'm a fairly straightforward and well intentioned individual. And also like Cooper, in my efforts to address some of life's smaller issues, I can sometimes blind myself to the bigger picture.
JL: What’s next for you as an actor? Where can we follow your work?
CB: You may be able to catch me on a couple episodes of 'The Good Wife' this season.
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I'm a playwright, dramaturg, and teaching artist. It is here where you'll find my queries and musings on life, theater and the world. My posts advocate for diversity, inclusion, and equity in the American Theatre and updates on my own work. Please enjoy!