Friday, August 9, 2013

Crogan Adventures Actor Interview: Scott Emerson Moyle

Scott Emerson Moyle
Scott Moyle, the voice of Catfoot Crogan in "Crogan's Prize," is a director, actor, and a world-class halloween costume maker, and he was kind enough to answer a few questions. 

I'm not sure if you know this, Scott, but when Gregg and I were initially discussing the idea of doing Crogan shows, the first observation that he made was that you would have to play Catfoot. He made it clear that you might kill him if it were to be otherwise.
Gregg was not too far off the truth! Pirates have always been of interest to me, and I loved them long before it was cool. When the first "Pirates Of The Carribean" came out I was thrilled, and the ensuing few years of pirate-mania were delightful. Now it's steampunk, I guess? I still like my pirates. In any case, I had picked up a copy of Crogan's Vengeance that was sitting around Gregg's place, and read it during my downtime in a recording session, and when Gregg mentioned the Crogan radio plays I think I dissolved into a confused tangle of begging and threatening. It's all fuzzy now.

What appeals to you about pirate characters? Have you ever had the opportunity to play one before?
Pirates get to have all of the fun in theatre. Historical pirates were a little more completely terrible, but the pop culture image of the pirate is great: big badass coat, all the best hats, and a license to behave any way you like. I've pirated all over the place: both years of the Toronto Pirate Festival, various gigs any time there are tall ships in town, and for a while a friend and I did an insane improv comedy/danger stunt act called The Plunder Monkeys. We goofed around, sang about nautical euphemisms for sodomy, juggled fire on a bed of nails, and committed irresponsible acts of swashbucklerey.

Speaking of swashbuckling, you used to specialize in stage fighting and choreography?
I still do, a bit. I went so far as to certify as an Advanced Actor-Combatant with Fight Directors Canada, so I can put together and perform a fight with just about anything you put in my hands. Until about 2009 I was looking at going even further and getting into film stunts, but I badly injured my left knee and had to take a big step back from stage fighting. This worked out rather well, as I fell straight into directing Shakespeare, where I'm vastly happier than I ever was as a performer. I still buckle my swash when I can, and it's very useful to be able to choreograph bits of fight when I'm directing.

Are there any existing shows that you would especially like to direct?
I have this idea that I'd like to direct all thirty-seven of Shakespeare's plays- they're immensely rewarding to work on. I've already knocked off five of them (one of them three different times!), so I'm on my way. I'd also love to get at "The Bacchae", a Greek tragedy by Euripides, and George F. Walker's "Zastrozzi". And the list goes on and on. Rudyard Kipling's "The Jungle Play" is another good one.

How about existing non-dramatic works that you’d like to adapt for the stage?
I have a killer idea for a stage adaptation of "20,000 Leagues Under The Sea", but it'd be a huge endeavour. I'd also love to try putting "1984" on stage- an adaptation exists, but it tries to be extremely literal, and winds up compressing the story in a way that really shortchanges Winston's growth as a character. I imagine a much less linear staging- lots of multimedia, tons of quick vignette-style scenes, and a whole lot of sensory overload.

You’re a comics and graphic novel reader, if I’m not mistaken. Any favorites?
Many favourites. Hellboy, Scott Pilgrim, The Ultimates, Runaways, Calvin & Hobbes... I also just spent a few weeks in Brussels, where I hit the Centre Belge de la Bande DessinĂ©e, which is a comics museum, and rediscovered Spiro. In fact, I spent several afternoons in Brussels holed up at a tiny amazing bar called Moeder Lambic, where I would get lost in the best beer I've ever had and read comics. This bar has probably a dozen wooden crates full of big beautiful hardcover compilations of comics, mostly French, and I got a taste of a bunch of terrific comics. Now that I'm back I have to track down "Long John Silver", which is a lavishly illustrated pirate epic. It all comes back to pirates, I guess.

You had the misfortune to be saddled with heavily accented roles like Van Dinkiboom in “The Kimberly Pit” and S’Karno in “The Island Lost to Time,” but you seemed to handle both quite comfortably. Do you prepare for accented roles, or do you have a catalog of accents that you pull out when they’re demanded?
I'm flattered! I do enjoy dialect work, but I don't have a prepared catalogue apart from standard BBC British, often called 'received pronunciation' or just RP, and a generic terrible piratey accent. I used RP for Catfoot, actually. But it's less about having a bunch of accents in my pocket, and more about being able to pick them up efficiently. There are some great resources online if you want to learn an accent, the most accessible of which is simply finding video of someone from the region you want to emulate. I've learned a more technical approach that saves me a lot of time, involving learning the International Phonetic Alphabet. So I can break down my own generic big-city Canadian accent into its component phonemes, and by listening to another accent I can figure out which phonemes to substitute. Although for Van Dinkiboom's Dutch South African thing, I helped myself along by watching the excellent District 9. One of the more creative swears from that film is consequently on the Kimberly Pit cutting room floor, because I couldn't help myself.

What are you working on now?
I have a tiny little theatre company called Urban Bard- we do site-specific classical theatre, in fact I think we're the only company doing that particular thing full-time. We hit a rough patch as small arts organisations often do, but we're just now getting back on our feet and planning a fundraising event for the fall and a show for the spring. Our shows are a very accessible way to get into Shakespeare, and you're likely to see a few Decoder Ring veterans. It's a little-known fact that many of the DRT regulars met doing Shakespeare, and in fact our last show- A Midsummer Night's Dream- had Deck Gibson and Black Jack Justice squaring off as Nick Bottom and Peter Quince. If you're anywhere near Toronto, or plan to be, track us down on Facebook!

If you haven't yet had a chance to listen to "Crogan's Prize," you can listen online or download it here.  You can (and should!) also subscribe to Decoder Ring Theatre on iTunes, so that you never miss a show!

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