Matthew Alvin Brown – Talent In Pearls
As Lyric prepares to open I Am My Own Wife on March 29, we stepped into a rehearsal with its star, Matthew Alvin Brown, to ask a few questions about this one-man show…
Tell us what drew you to this production?
I previously did Hedwig and the Angry Inch, which is about an East German transsexual, and I had heard of this play for a few years and thought that is kind of up my alley. Michael Baron called out of the blue and asked if I would be interested in working with him, and when the artistic director of Lyric Theatre calls and asks if you want to work together on this play, you say, “yes.”
What have you done to prepare for this production?
I have spent every waking moment with this script for the past month and a half. There’s really not much you can do to prepare mentally except to just muster up the gumption and go for it. I’ve spent my working day hours pouring over the script so much and at night rehearsing. You just kind of go for it.
What’s it like to play 30+ characters?
It’s incredibly difficult. One thing we didn’t want to do are caricatures of people. So, trying to differentiate voices and mannerisms without turning into a cartoon has been the challenge. You really have to think of it as a full play with a full cast of characters, the difference is you just happen to be all of them.
What’s been the most difficult part of the rehearsal process?
The most difficult part of the process has been trying to keep track of the locations and the different decades that we span because it is not linear or chronological; it doesn’t make a lot of logical sense. So, that, in concert with learning two hours worth of lines, has been a challenge but you create little cheats, little tricks in your mind, that hopefully prompt you, and I am still figuring those out right now.
What do you like most about this show?
The character of Charlotte is fascinating and her story is so unbelievable. The things I am learning about her are really incredible, and it’s kind of a wonder that she is not more well known in the world because she was quite an extraordinary individual. I enjoy inhabiting her because she’s so vastly different from myself.
What do you hope audiences take away from this production?
I hope that the audiences will be open minded enough to find some parallels to what is happening in the world right now. I hope they can see that discrimination is still happening and will be part of the change for tolerance.
Bonus question: How are you and Charlotte similar and different?
Similar – We both have enormous man hands; we’re both of German ancestry; we both enjoy records. I collect records and she collects records.
Different – She identifies as a woman. She’s a survivor who went through circumstances that I cannot even imagine. So, I think she’s got some hard core life experience over me in some pretty heavy ways. She hated her father; mine was awesome.