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Hitchcock. King Lear. C.S. Lewis — Dakin Matthews has played his share of hefty dramatic roles on Los Angeles and Orange County stages as well as in television and film. Theatergoers familiar with Matthews' deft touch should catch his memorable turn in the Coen Brothers’ movie "True Grit." In two tart scenes, Dakin's hapless character Col. Stonehill is hornswaggled by 14-year-old Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld), who sells back the ponies her late father bought from him.
Los Angeles Times - THEATER REVIEW
Andak Stage Company founders Dakin Matthews and Anne McNaughton each wrote a chapter in the newly released book Comedia in English: Translation & Performance, published by Tamesis this month. Dakin's chapter was on translating, Anne's on directing. In other chapters of the book, the Antaeus staging of Dakin's translation of The Liar was hailed as the first important production to contribute "to the expansion of the [Comedia] repertory in North America." And scholar Robert Lauer called Anne's Andak Stage Company production of Don Juan "the best rendition I have seen of Tirso de Molina's El burlador de Sevilla in any language." The front cover art featured current Betrayal actress Nike Doukas in the 2000 Antaeus production of The Liar.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Arts & Entertainment
"It's time to do this before I get any older," says Dakin Matthews, 67, who is opening the Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre season as Shakespeare's King Lear.
Matthews and director Jim Christy have together shaped their "King Lear" script, drawing on both the folio and quarto texts. "Christy kind of favored the quarto, because he wanted the mad trial scene," Matthews says. The result should take just 2 3/4 hours, including intermission, which means cutting about 45 minutes of text.
In condensations of "Hamlet," it's usually the politics that get cut first. But "we sort of like the politics," says Matthews, who's worked to keep the sisters/husbands/Edmund subplot as clear as the central one of Lear/Fool/Cordelia.
Matthews brings to "Lear" long experience as actor, director and dramaturg, mainly on the West Coast. But his joint expertise did bring him to Lincoln Center four years back for the revival of both parts of "Henry IV" in an adaptation he had done for San Diego's Old Globe, starring John Goodman and Richard Easton, directed by Jack O'Brien. Then O'Brien had some Broadway success and Kevin Kline let it be known he would like to play Falstaff. Adapter/dramaturg Matthews (who also played two small roles), the fight master, designers and O'Brien were the only ones brought east.
Out-of-town actors can rarely crack New York non-musicals these days, he says, because it would mean paying their living expenses. That's why Matthews didn't end up doing O'Brien's staging of Tom Stoppard's "Coast of Utopia." But he was on Broadway as adapter and dramaturg for the 2005 "Julius Caesar," though: it had been first done in San Diego, but the only non-New York actor was the star, Denzel Washington.
Still, Matthews is more than content on the West Coast. He's a strong believer that "theater is a local art. You perform for the people in the theater that day."
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review - Theater
For actor Dakin Matthews, the role of King Lear has been on his wish list for a very long time.
"If you are an actor of a certain age -- and I've been acting for more than 40 years -- it is the ultimate challenge of all your technique and training and study and heart," Matthews says. "It's like an Olympic event or a marathon. It's what you train to do."
Matthews is making his debut performance this week as the title character in Shakespeare's "King Lear" in the Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre production on the stage of the Charity Randall Theatre in Oakland's Stephen Foster Memorial.
It's a part and a play that Matthews began studying four decades ago, when it was the topic of his dissertation at New York University.
Matthews' career has many facets.
In addition to stage work as a classical actor, he also serves as associate artist of the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, Calif., as well as a dramaturge and a teacher. He also has appeared periodically on television -- currently in a continuing role as Reverend Sikes on "Desperate Housewives" and previously as Hamlin Charleston on "Gilmore Girls," along with guest appearances on several other shows.
In his stage career, he has made a specialty of playing Shakespearean roles.
Los Angeles Times - THEATER REVIEW
"...But while youth may have the advantage in looks and style, it's the veterans, Robert Foxworth as Claudius and Dakin Matthews as Polonius, who show how Shakespeare should be done. Their singular advantage is ... an ability to speak Shakespearean lines as though they were emanating from their hearts and minds."
Courtesy of the South Coast Repertory
NoHo arts district.com - Theatre - Articles
Dakin Matthews (a memorable Dick Cheney in Stuff Happens at Mark Taper Forum) has just received another award (from Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle) for his work as a Featured Performer in Water & Power, also produced at the Mark Taper Forum. Dakin's name is synonymous with "Los Angeles Theater," even though he just returned from New York (where he once taught students such as Kevin Kline and Patty LuPone at Juilliard, and starred in award winning Broadway productions) after teaching a series of Shakespeare Master Classes to eager artists.
Dakin is the Artistic Director of the Andak Stage Company, the Founding Artistic Director Emeritus of The Antaeus Company and a founding member of John Houseman's Acting Company. He has produced or co-produced all seven of Andak's productions, acted in four of them, written three of them, and translated two. He is a member of both the Motion Picture and Television Academies with over 40 years of acting experience and is also a director, dramaturge, Shakespeare scholar, acting teacher, and Emeritus Professor of English from California State University East Bay.
What advice would you give to someone just starting their acting career?
If you're talking about stage acting: Read, read, read. Become familiar with good writing and good speech. See good stage plays, especially those which are richer and deeper than average television shows. Go to the classics. Watch good actors work and try to figure out how they do it. Go to college, not necessarily to study acting but to get a good grounding in the liberal arts, English, Art, History, Psychology--and while you're there try out for every play--even if you're not in the Drama Department. If you get cast over some drama student, you know you probably have what it takes.
How did you start your acting career?
Almost completely by accident. I was not a drama student. I studied philosophy and English, and then did plays at school extra-curricularly. Then someone dared me to audition for a Shakespeare Festival and I got the role. I started acting summers while I was teaching college. Then I started acting year round while I was teaching. Then I started teaching part-time and acting fulltime. Then I moved to L.A., and eased into TV and movies. It was something I never meant to do or trained to do, but i think my liberal arts education was an enormous help--especially with the classics.
NoHo arts district.com - Theatre Listings
Andak Stage Company (Dakin Matthews, Anne McNaughton) opens a new, intimate NoHo space with a psychologically probing 1986 David Hare one-act. Feisty Anne Gee Byrd plays an ex-student of Matisse who gave up Paris for her native Russia. Her adult daughter (Annie LaRussa) in 1956 Leningrad faces her own crossroads. New Place Theatre, 10950 Peach Grove St, North Hollywood, (866) 811-4111. Andak.org. Fris at 8; Sats at 2:30 & 8; Suns at 2:30. Closes May 20.(DS)
eyeSpyLA.com - Review
The Andak Stage Company produced this delightful inspiring play at the "New Place Studio Theatre" in North Hollywood. If you want to feel special some evening, go there. It is absolutely charming, comfy elegant gold velvet chairs, a bookcase in the back and armchair viewing for all.
I will try to write this review based on what I learned from our heroine last night, to let go of your will and follow your heart. The play is set in a museum in Leningrad in 1956. It is about a mother and daughter relationship, it is about an oppressive society, it is about art, love and change.
Anne Gee Bryd is compelling as Valentina Nrovka, the mother who is asked to authenticate a painting by Matisse. She wears a severe black dress and has all the elegance and grace of an aging beautiful woman, dabbing her neck with a little perfume from an elegant handkerchief. Her early life had the essence of freedom, living in Paris, going to art classes with the great artists, loving them, sleeping with them. This all changed when she had a child. She brought the child back to Russia where they lived in relative poverty and under the severe oppression of Russian society in those days. "There is no such thing as freedom" Valentina says harshly to her daughter.
Sophia Nrovka, Valentina's love child, is played by Annie LaRussa. Sophia is married with children of her own. Her husband is a wealthy prosperous member of "The Party". However, she wants to leave this life of prosperity to follow a gentler path with a man of no distinction or prosperity, old enough to be her father, but who loves her and wishes only for her happiness. There were four characters, mother, daughter, older man and "party" curator, all locked into roles they wanted to escape, but how?
This play is only about 80 minutes long, but sure packs in a lot about relationships, love, and listening, to others and to your own heart. We don't know until the end if the painting is a real Matisse or not. How do we find out? Not with words, but with the memory of love in the face of our heroine. She embraces the painting and remembers. She recalls how Matisse said no one could paint the sun, yet his works were bursting with light, the sun was everywhere in them. This painting in question did not have a figure in it, the woman had been removed. It was just pure beauty and light. It was beyond the struggle for freedom and joy from oppression.
Dakin Matthews is the Producer and inspiration behind this lovely theater. We were all treated to Russian tea cakes and fresh quiche on this opening night. We were gathered together for a finale that embraced each and every one of us. We were all asked to stand up and recite one line of Shakespeare. Wow, beautiful! Children and adults all had a little Shakespeare in their hearts, bouncing out so merrily in this impromptu setting.
We came home with many gifts from the heart of this theater.
Variety - Review
Midway through the world premiere of "Water & Power" comes a lengthy scene so perfectly written, directed and played, so chilling and yet so hilarious, that it justifies the efforts of sketch comedy troupe Culture Clash to expand its artistic ambitions and the gamble of Center Theatre Group artistic director Michael Ritchie. If the rest of the production falls short of the sequence's brilliance, enough bilingual humor and site-specific relevance remain to mark "Water & Power" as a significant local artistic milestone.
In an elegant restaurant -- deftly evoked, as are other locations, by Rachel Hauck's scenery and Alexander V. Nichols' lighting -- a genial white-suited power broker known only as the Fixer (Dakin Matthews) plays host to idealistic state Sen. Gilbert Garcia (playwright Richard Montoya), whose police officer twin brother Gabriel (Herbert Siguenza) is under siege at a seedy motel by mysterious yet murderous figures. Over dinner, Fixer explains the exact trouble Gabriel is in and pointedly names the price Gilbert must pay to fix things: withdrawal of plans for an environmentally green, community-friendly East L.A. riverwalk in favor of privately owned condominium development.
Scene encapsulates all the anger and social criticism fueling "Water & Power," beginning with the agonizing realization (also central to 2003's Culture Clash Taper smash "Chavez Ravine") that the fates of the L.A. many are held in the hands of the often capricious and heartless few.
Dakin Matthews stars in the latest Culture Clash work, Water & Power, which opens its world premiere at Los Angeles' Mark Taper Forum Aug. 6.
Lisa Peterson directs the production which began previews July 27 at the Center Theatre Group's stage for a run through Sept. 17. The work closes the Taper's 2005-06 season.
Penned by Richard Montoya for Culture Clash, Water & Power follows "the story of a hard-working Chicano father, a longtime employee for the DWP, who nicknames his sons Water and Power and teaches them about the bond of family: there is no power without water, and no water without power. Water becomes a successful politician and Power becomes a top-ranking lieutenant in the LAPD. But on one rainy, dangerous night, in a run-down hotel room on Sunset Blvd., both their careers may come crashing down in ruins."
Dakin Matthews appears in the cast with Mateo Arias, Moises Arias, Emilio Rivera, Winston J. Rocha and the trio troupe Culture Clash - Richard Montoya, Ric Salinas and Herbert Siguenza.
An actor, playwright and dramaturg, Matthews appeared last at the Mark Taper Forum as Vice President Dick Cheney in the American premiere of Stuff Happens. The actor also recently portrayed the titular director in Hitchcock Blonde at South Coast Repertory and performed in his own work The Prince of L.A. at the Old Globe Theatre.
The design team for Water & Power is Rachel Hauck (set), Christopher Acebo (costumes), Alexander V. Nichols (lighting) and Paul James Prendergast (sound). John Glore serves as dramaturg, Steve Rankin handles fight choreography and James T. McDermott is the production stage manager.
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