The American Theatre of Actors concentrates on dark New York back stories for its summer cutting-edge series. THE SANDMAN, written by Lynn Navarra and directed by Ken Coughlin, tells the story of two beat cops, moonlighting in construction, caught up in a battle between a pub owner and the Irish mob… NYC circa 1979 … will be revived for a limited run, August 9 – 20 (Wed. – Sat. @ 8:00 pm and Sun. @ 3pm). Performances for this revival will be held at The John Cullum Theatre of the American Theatre of Actors. For reservations, call 212.581.3044. Tickets are $20 (cash at the door).
One of the stars of THE SANDMAN spent some time with us, discussing the production and the time period. Michael Bordwell plays Paul, one of the beat cops who set the play in motion.
So “officer,” NY in the 70 was a tough place … is it better now?
It’s interesting. We are definitely in a different place then we were 35+ years ago. While some may say the city is “tough,” it is also a city where diversity is welcomed and everyone bonds together to make the best of things. I laugh because my family is originally from Long Island and Far Rockaway and they talk about how lucky I am because the city is so much better now. I mean, every major city is tough in its own way, but the question really becomes, do you have the grit to make it, and I like to think that I do. I’m a born and bred proud “New Yawka.” I love living and working in the city.
This is an expansive play, would it make a good movie?
It would. It’s a very unique story with the elements to make an outstanding period film. However, that doesn’t diminish the wonder that a theatrical production can bring. Though we are in a large theatre, we encapsulate the intimacy with the way that the scenes are staged. Also, the energy of an audience brings so much that even though we do hope to turn this into a film in the future, there’s something about performing it live that I love.
What is your role in the play and what is your creative process?
I play the role of Paul, one of the two beat cops who is moonlighting as a construction worker at The Sandman. My creative process differs from piece to piece. That said, I have been living with Paul for three years and within the world of The Sandman for about five or six. I was a part of the original reading for Lynn Navarra’s writing group The Writers at the Players Club and I have been in love with this play ever since. In one iteration I read the stage directions and in another I read the role of Terry Nichols. For this production, I am blessed to be reviving the role in this re-staging, so I am refocusing on nailing the accent and refining the relationships I have to the other characters. Though Paul has very different relationships with each character, he loves many and abhors a few and this is a unique conflict to play given his backstory, which to avoid spoilers, I won’t reveal here. A blessing for this is that 7 out of the original 10 actors are back for this production so it has been a blast to go even deeper into character development, especially with my partner in the play and good friend in real life, Ben Guralnik (Sal) and my director/co-star Ken Coughlin (Tommy C). I believe at this point, Ken and I have worked in some capacity together on 20+ projects.
Your are in an historic theater. There’s only about three or four of the “original” off-off Broadway spaces left, how is it to work there
I have been working at the American Theatre of Actors for the last 13 years. I love all the spaces here. I have had the opportunities to produce, direct, design and act in over 20 productions. Each is a blessing in its own way. Anytime I have the opportunity to work in any of the spaces I jump at it. I truly love and respect all of the work James Jennings has done for artists over the last 40+ years at ATA.
Having had the amazing opportunity to perform on stage in three original works this summer, this fall I look forward to returning to my director seat with a couple of projects down the line at the American Theatre of Actors and workshopping a reading of Lynn Navarra’s new play The Price, a bio-play about soprano Maria Callas.