Randal King    RANDALL  KING

Artistic Director  of  THE SAN JOSE STAGE COMPANY
and one of its founding members
talks about its 
2015-2016 Season

By   Iride Aparicio


Photos: Dave Lepori

SAN JOSÉ, CAAs one of the original founding members of THE SAN JOSE STAGE COMPANY,  its current Artistic Director, Director, and sometimes actor in their plays, RANDALL KING’s life is centered around the stage. THE STAGE, as his theatre is named, and the round stage of his theatre, where his productions are presented to his audience. When we asked him to tell us something about his Company, he said:

R.K. “ The Company evolved from a group of college radicals called “The Under Guard City Ensemble”, who re-grouped after three or four years of working in regional theatre and founded THE STAGE COMPANY hoping to be more physical legitimate but trying, at the same time, to do what I call the “under-dogs’ mission” which is given access (to theatrical productions) to kids from the community and the public as affordable as possible.

 C.W.B. Is that still the purpose of THE STAGE COMPANY?
R.K.”  Yes. As I said before, we wanted to give the people access to the art form, but also our mission includes giving visibility to intolerance and creating a new environment of tolerance that allows us to accept each other. I mean to accept our different cultures in a way that my friend LUIS VALDEZ  says it: “To embrace the hearts (of other persons) rather than fear each other.”  

C.W.B. What attracted you to acting?

R.K:  I think that the day when I decided to become an actor was when I was in acting class and I became aware of the transcendental aspect of the art form, what I call: “taking it off the floor,” which is when the actor’s suspension of disbelief is higher than the audience's . It is almost an out-of-body experience. And that (experience) for me, on this particular day was what attracted me to acting and what I have been working to attain for all these forty years. Attaining that sense of Nirvana, as the Buddhists say, that sense of absorption  (that not only exist for me, but with my fellow actors and ensemble members in any production) has been my goal since that day when I discovered that aspect of the Artist-Performer. It boils down to knowing the text (your character) as good, if not better, than the playwright. It is to submerge yourself completely in the character.” 

C.W.B How did you start?

R.K. I walked into a theatre company of Cañada College at age 26 and I met some young people who were radicals, artistic Avant-Garde radicals, who just would do a play. So I thought that it was what all actors did, just get together and do a play. But I was very fortunate that these artists, that I got to know in my development period, were also brave, community-oriented activists, wanting to get their message across when doing their projects. Since I was not sure what to do, (at that time) I believe that the “Muses” were the ones who gave me the pushing and shoving I needed in the choices I made as an artist. And it has been the most rewarding aspect (of his life) for twenty years, because as I started “feeling the energy of the cosmos” coming in the direction of my path, it was like they say in  ROMEO & JULIET “He, who has the spirit of the wind, directs my sails.”  Because I really was given that energy and have been very fortunate to have associates and artists behind me to support me and  help me, plus my wife, who runs this company and keeps it together.”

L-R front: King in the role of Willy Loman, & Danny Jones as Biff
King as Willy Loman, Danny Jones as Biff , Lucinda Hitchcock Cone as Linda and Jeffrey Brian Adams as Happy

C.W.B. How do you define your career as an actor?

R.K.  I have been an actor for forty years, but after playing Willy Loman in “Death of a Salesman” I realized that I have been fortunate enough to do most of the characters in the different pieces of literature that I wanted to play, and that I had done almost all of them. It has been a wonderful opportunity. Sadly, I have been forced now to consider, over the next Season or two, to be acting a little less with the company and work  more with my Artistic Director’s responsibilities.

C.W.B.  Talking about your responsibilities, can you discuss with us your next Season?

R.K.  “The first play is RFK  the Bobby Kennedy story which I will direct. It is a one-man show with one of my associates going to play Kennedy. When I read the script, which was about the time Obama took over as President, being a naïve Hippy I read it with the context of a Black President. The play is an historical piece and when I re-read it a few months ago I wept, I cried, I laughed in the context of the polarization that I thought that no longer existed in our country because we have a Black President, and we were accepting it. As I said earlier, before, we were afraid of: the Black man, the Latino, the Asian, the American Indian, but I realize, reading the play again, in the context of President Obama’s polarization and the way in which racism is showing its ugly head, (racism) is now even worse that it existed in the late sixties, during the initiation of the Civil Rights Movement. So, looking at the Kennedy script, and the way that Senators are making anti-racial comments now and the way the country is dividing again, I think that this play sets a historical context that is  a mirror again to the troubles we fought fifty years ago and that, a young man like me, thought there were past. I realized that it is scarier now that it was before."

“And studying this play, I realized that MARTIN LUTHER KING (April 4, l968)  and BOBBY KENNEDY’s  (June 6, l968) assassinations,  were only   a few months apart. What is about this country that it needs to make martyrs of men who have good consciences and good hearts?  I believe that KENNEDY came to the end of his life understanding the plight of the working man and the racial position that existed in the country. That he was real a pioneer. I also believe that the serependity of my “muses” said to me, “you are going to do this play now.”

R.F.K. which will open the Theatrical Explorations of THE STAGE 33rd season, will be presented from September 30 to October 25, 2015

C.W.B.  Let’s talk about your second play.

R.K.  "Our second play will be PATRICK BARLOW’s  “THE THIRTY NINE STEPS” which is a radical, English-Style musical, almost vaudeville. A spoof on ALFRED HITCHCOCK’ s early film by the same name. The play spoofs not only his film but his body of work. It is a comedic piece, an English farce that I think our audience deserves because everybody needs a laugh once in a while, so we’re starting the Season with something light."

“THE THIRTY NINE STEPS” adapted by Patrick Barlow will be presented from November 15 to December 20, 2015.

C.W.B.  I understand you are very interested about your third play.

R.K. "Yes. I have followed the TEATRO CAMPESINO and its accomplishments for years, and lately people started telling me “you have to see “VALLEY OF THE HEART” it is a great play for your space, and then LUIS VALDEZ showed up at our theatre for a presentation with the Institute of Ordinary Art,  who was doing an exhibition about the Japanese internment,
and I decided to talk with him about the play. I did not get to see it when the play was in San Juan or playing in Monterey, but I asked him to send me a copy and after reading it I thought that is a play I love, because I like pieces that reflect our regional history in a way that mirrors our global perspective. And what I liked about the piece was that it is about two cultures that are dominant in America: the Latino community and the Japanese community.
Photograph of Luis Valdez (left and Randal King)I love it when two cultures or three cultures come together on stage because it gives visibility and understanding to the different perspectives and makes us fear each other less. I think that in this play LUIS is very good in taking its historical context and giving us a typical way to look at it.

Photograph of Luis Valdez (left and Randall King)

The story  on this play, reminds me of the "Romeo and Juliet" love story because it is the story  of a Japanese girl and a young Latino man who goes off to the Pacific Theatre to fight during World War II, while she is sent off to a Wyoming Internment camp.

And here I think that there is a lot about the Holocaust that we should never forget, but of course, we keep making the same mistakes over and over. I think that in this play, LUIS gets a sense of history not only about the Latino culture but also about the Japanese culture. Luis perspective is that the world of theatre has changed into a national perspective.

I am very excited to do this play in partnership with LUIS VALDEZ because between our companies, we have eighty years of experience. I have co-produced plays in San José since l977 and when the REP failed, my focus became how can we get EL TEATRO CAMPESINO into downtown San “José and have LUIS VALDEZ preach his sermons in a way that is inclusive to downtown’s multi-cultural energy? That is my goal. Collectively getting together and bringing diversity to our groups, mutually, in a way that we reach more audiences."

VALLEY OF THE HEART in Partnership with EL TEATRO CAMPESINO will be presented next year, from February  lOth to March 6, 2016.

C.W.B:  If  I am correct you still have two more shows on the schedule.

R.K. “Yes.  We have “BOEING BOEING” which is a French Farce written by MARC CAMOLETTI, about a young bachelor in Paris who is engaged to three stewardess (Fly attendants) Because it is a farce it is very funny, very light hearted. And we are still looking to our closing  musical to close the season that we don’t have yet. As I said before, I am very excited because this year we are giving our audience a little bit of diversity, comedy and tragedy.”

SAN JOSE STAGE COMPANY, commonly known as THE STAGE, is  the South Bay leading professional theatre company known for its artistic excellence, and cutting-edge and artistically excellent productions presented in a round-stage theatre where the farthest seat in the house is no further than 15 feet from the stage making the connection between the actors and the audience profoundly visceral.

Those interested in buying ticket can call the Box Office at 408-283-7142 of order them online at www.thestage.org.