by Pollyanna Eyler, Dramaturg
“Once Upon A Time.” These four familiar words that grow into fanciful fairy tales and creative tall tales, like Paul Bunyan! Creative storytelling will drive the long-form improvisation at this year’s BYU main stage production of The Glorious Story Emporium. Of the five actors performing, the best way to distinguish Rick Curtiss is to say he’s “larger than life” in everything he says and does. In a recent Q&A exchange for 4th Wall Dramaturgy, Rick flexed his storytelling talent with humorous results. Here’s just a peek at the man, the myth, and the legend under The Coonskin Cap. Enjoy!
- What is the story behind your favorite story? When I was in elementary school I used to watch a cartoon anthology series called “Grimm’s Fairy Tales” on Nickelodeon. It was originally made in Japan but had been dubbed into English. Almost all of the fairy tales and folk stories were brand new. They had Snow White but it was “Snow White and Rose Red” –the lesser known story of Snow White and her Native American sister. One of those obscure stories that has stuck with me the most is “The Brave Little Tailor.”
- Why is this your favorite story? I like that the hero uses his intelligence to deceive others.
- What is your favorite part of the story? In an effort to show his raw strength, the brave little tailor squeezes a rock so hard that water drips out. Unbeknownst to his audience, he is actually squeezing a piece of cheese. This cheese looked like a large round of cheddar. I tried to do this with a balled up craft single as a kid and it just molded into the shape of my hand, which was actually more impressive.
- What school do you attend? BYU
- What is/will be your degree(s)? Masters in Theatre History and Critical Studies.
- Anything you’d like to share about BYU, especially the Theatre Media Arts program? You can’t beat the price.
- What do you hope to do with your degree? Shove it into a series of rapidly closing doors.
- What do you hope to accomplish in the next ten years? I hope to have a ten-year plan.
- What do you hope to accomplish in your lifetime? Be the subject of untrue rumors that I am a recluse.
- A common or obscure story that represents your life? The time I convinced my friend that there was a picture of her pretending to be a goat hanging in our high school’s office. It’s the only time telling the truth was more fun than any lie I could have come up with. I think this sums up my life nicely.
- What is the story you most identify with in regards to your love life? Thelma and Louise
- Any glaring differences you want to point out? The biggest glaring difference is everything in the story except the car crash at the end.
- Who is your “Famous Person Crush”? Lisbeth Salander.
- If your life story was made into a movie or play today, which famous actor would portray you? Jack Black
The Glorious Story Emporium:
- What motivated you to get involved in this show? I wanted to work with Patrick Livingston.
- What do you recommend for those auditioning for improvisation? Fake palsy.
- What is your experience with improvisation? Nothing formal. I do make up new lyrics to country songs on the radio. They are very graphic.
- What do you love about the show? That we start soon
- What will be challenging about the show? Considering others.
- Anything positive you’d like to share about the Cast or Crew? Patrick is the always rare real deal.
- Who should see this show? People who generally avoid Young Company shows.
“The Hero’s Journey” – taking the show on the road with Young Company:
- What will the audience be talking about on the way home from this show? Rick Curtiss
- What do you think it will be like to tour with this show? Exhausting
- What are you looking forward to in touring the show? Lunch–and being comfortable enough with each other … on long van rides. Also bringing joy to children.
- What challenges do you expect to face touring the show? Exhaustion, hunger … children.
- What do you do to prepare yourself to go on stage? I like to grab onto that pit of anxiety in my stomach and let it fester and swear under my breath.
- What do you reward yourself with after each show or the run of a show? Ideally, some fresh chicken fried in the style of Kentucky.
- What was your introduction to theatre? A Pumpkin in Missoula Children’s Theater’s Cinderella. I was four. I remember sitting crossed legged backstage, wearing black tights, resting my head on the padding of my pumpkin suit, and feeling no emotion good or ill for theatre or performing or a live audience. So much of my life at that time was being directed that Cinderella was just another hoop I was jumping through.
- What was your favorite cast role so far and why? I was Fagin in Libby Memorial Center’s Production of Oliver in Libby, Montana. Fagin really hit my acting hot buttons: taking advantage of the poor, subtextually an alcoholic, and magic tricks.
- What is your favorite crew position so far? Dramaturg for Sonder.
- Tony/Oscar Award Speech? I would try to tell as much of the story of Tiki Tiki Tembo until someone forced me off-stage.
- Are you currently involved in any other productions? I am working with Graham Brown as dramaturg on his next production Apple Falling.
- Outside of theatre and storytelling, what other unique talents do you have? I’m good at eating (think, less manners and more raw passion.)
- What do you like to do when you’re not in a show? Consume media, but really the media is consuming me.
- Anything else that you would like to share with your fans? How did you get this number?