Antaeus Theatre’s Kitty Swink – Observations on COVID-19 and Live Theater

Kitty Swink - Photo Courtesy of Antaeus Theatre

Co-artistic director of Antaeus Theatre Company, Kitty Swink has been active in entertainment since the 1980s, first in live theater and soon after in other mediums. An American film, stage, and television actor, she has appeared in motion pictures like “Patty Hearst” and television programs like “Law and Order,” “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” and “Judging Amy.” She recently appeared as Kate in the Antaeus stage production of “The Cripple of Inishmaan.” Given her busy schedule, Splash magazine was fortunate to have the opportunity to interview her about the current pandemic and its effect on today’s theater.

Mary-Pat Green and Kitty Swink in THE CRIPPLE OF INISHMAAN – Photo by Geoffrey Wade Photography

WHEN DID ANTAEUS THEATRE FIRST BEGIN PERFORMANCES? WERE YOU INVOLVED FROM THE BEGINNING? DOES ANTAEUS TAKE UP MOST OF YOUR PROFESSIONAL TIME?

“Our first public performances began on the stage of The Mark Taper Forum on March 22, 1994; however we began in 1991 as a project of the prestigious Center Theatre Group. Founders Dakin Matthews and Lillian Groag felt strongly that Los Angeles actors could form an ensemble theater company equal to any other in the world – and set out to do just that. Dakin brought together a remarkable group of 30 actors to embark on this ambitious project. The group gathered every Monday night to read, study, and rehearse great classical plays. More than two decades and hundreds of readings, workshops, and productions later, we are still at it. Antaeus is a cooperative theater ensemble comprised of classically trained and highly accomplished professional actors, directors, designers, and other theater artists dedicated to bringing classical theater to Los Angeles. The first full production was a new translation of Chekhov’s “The Wood Demon” by company members Nick Saunders and Frank Dwyer. I didn’t become a member of the ensemble until 2005. I became co-artistic director three years ago.”

“Antaeus is certainly a huge part of my life, and it takes a great deal of my time. But my primary career is being an actor. I have a film, “The Longshadow,” which is about to drop on streaming services. I was supposed to shoot a film titled “Storyville” in May. Because of COVID-19, it has been temporarily postponed.”

Laura Wernette and Adam J. Smith in CLOUD 9 – Photo by Karianne Flaathen

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE MOST POPULAR PLAYS YOU’VE DONE? HOW ABOUT AWARDS?

“It is hard to say, because everyone has a different opinion. Since we moved into our home in Glendale, I would say it was “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” which opened the theater. As to awards? Well, it’s a big list. We have been very blessed in that way.

Carolyn Ratteray, Lloyd Roberson II, and Bo Foxworth in MEASURE FOR MEASURE – Photo by Jenny Graham

WHEN DID YOU CLOSE THE THEATER DUE TO COVID-19? WERE YOU IN THE MIDDLE OF A RUN?

“We made the decision the evening of March 12 and closed the next day. Sadly, we were in the middle of the run of “Measure for Measure.” It was a wonderful production and we were heading into a string of sold-out performances.  The cast was brilliant.  The set is still up!  We were just finishing casting “The Time of Your Life” as the doors closed. And we were just finalizing our thirtieth anniversary season – a season we are so excited about.”

HOW HAS COVID-19 IMPACTED ON YOUR THEATER?

“Antaeus is holding together well in these difficult times. Certainly the loss of ticket and Academy income has been no fun. Many of our donors, season ticket holders, company members, and board members have been generous. I can’t thank them enough for that. To me the biggest impact is the “socially distancing” for our community. We describe ourselves as a family made up of artists and audiences.  Like all families now, we are working hard to stay connected; but there is a sense of isolation at times.”

Ross Philips and Rebecca Mozo in CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF – Photo by Steven C. Kemp

ARE YOU DOING ANYTHING RIGHT NOW TO KEEP YOUR LIVE THEATER GOING? STREAMING? HAVING VIRTUAL MEETINGS? PLANNING FOR YOUR NEXT SHOW WHEN YOU RE-OPEN?

“Members have been staying connected doing Zoom chats and play readings. Our Playwrights Lab is meeting on Zoom, and there is a company class. The Academy is moving forward online wherever practical. We are working on trying to reach out to our audience. But we are also focusing on keeping people safe and healthy and home.”

WHAT DO YOU THINK THE IMPACT OF COVID-19 WILL BE ON LIVE THEATER IN GENERAL IN LOS ANGELES? DO YOU FORESEE ANY PERMANENT CHANGES?

“Sadly, I am worried that some of our theaters will not weather the financial storm. Every size of arts organization is going to take a hit.  But we want your readers to know that we will be back. Our theater is a vital part of the Glendale and Greater LA community, and not just culturally. The arts are a big economic driver for their communities.”

Bill Brochtrup and Bo Foxworth in CLOUD 9 – Photo by Geoffrey Wade Photography

WHAT DO YOU NEED RIGHT NOW TO KEEP GOING FORWARD? WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE FROM THE THEATER PUBLIC?

“I hope the people who can will consider making donations to Antaeus or to any other theater they care about. And, most importantly, when we can safely come together in groups, come see shows.  Come see a lot of them.  It will not just help financially, it will help us all (artists and audiences) heal. After the 1918 flu pandemic came the Roaring 20’s.  Let’s roar – with well washed hands, shall we?”

Ian Littleworth and John Allee in THE CRIPPLE OF INISHMAAN – Photo by Geoffrey Wade Photography

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FUTURE PLANS?

“We are planning to announce our Anniversary Season as soon as possible.  We are on a trajectory of growth, and you will see that as we reopen.”

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*