By Nicole Willared
“You shouldn’t feel like you have to go to the big city; as a strategy it’s overrated.”
– Sam Buggeln, NYC theater director
The behind-the-scenes world of theater came to life on the afternoon of March 9 when an intimate group of actors and artists arrived inside Van Duzer’s black box theater to hear Sam Buggeln, translator for HSU’s production of Hater, give a talk about his adaptation of The Misanthrope, life as a director in the Big Apple and the hungry world of theater.
In attendance was Hater director, Michael Fields and his assistant director, 22 year-old HSU theatre major Shea King. King and Fields were still elated from the prior night’s performance of Hater.
“It was a sold out show, the best we ever had,” King said. Sam Buggeln translated Moliere’s The Misanthrope, a 1666 French play. French-speaking Buggeln said it was challenging translating period French into modern-day English.
“Hater was a show that I translated a long time ago,” Buggeln said. “I put it in the back of drawer and forgot about it until years later.”
Buggeln got nostalgic discussing the production of Hater evolving through the various layers of creative productivity; beginning with Moliere’s original work, Misanthrope, then Buggeln’s French/English translation of Misanthrope, the production being directed by the vision of director, Michael Fields and finally the talented actors bringing memorable characters to the theater stage.
Buggeln and Fields may have disagreed on the play’s ending.
“We didn’t change the text,” Field said. “We just changed the way it was performed.” Fields explained the ending was very dark in the original production.
Sam Buggeln is Canadian and has been living in New York for sixteen years making his way up from theater internships and temporary day jobs. Theater student, Shea King, asked Buggeln the question; how can an actor survive and eat while trying to get hired as an actor? Buggeln said getting a job in a casting office is really great work providing invaluable experience.
“In terms of eating, that is a really good question, it’s really hard,” Buggeln said. “You shouldn’t feel like you have to go to the big city; as a strategy it’s overrated.”
The intimate group got to know each other well over comical stories: Fields hired an actor he thought embodied the character as opposed to just hiring the good actor which brought up the subject of what director’s look for in their actors. Buggeln said directors want happy and grateful actors who are also helpful and polite.
“Directors respond better to someone who is easier to work with,” Buggeln said, “rather than the tortured genius.” Fields related another story about having no choice but to use actor resumes to plug an uncontrollable leak in a theater bathroom; the point of the story being, for actors, to always try, try again. Buggeln said once an actor finally gets through the door and secures the audition; there are things an actor should keep in mind while reading for the acting role.
“Don’t look the casting director in the eye,” Buggeln said. “This can make the director feel uncomfortable.”
Buggeln’s experience and unabashed honesty provided the days inspiration for the inquisitive thespians in attendance. By the time the discussion wrapped up, the group had to come up for air from the crescendos of laughter.
“Do three things every day to advance your career,” Buggeln said. He stressed the efforts of reaching out to someone or emailing someone are good ways to make contacts and build relationships. The eager actors and artists were fired up with inspiration by the time Buggeln shared his last and final tip for an artist’s success.
“Always say yes to projects,” Buggeln said. “And always, always quit your day job.”