Exclusive Interview by: Iride Aparicio

Photos courtesy: The Tabard Theatre

SILICON VALLEY, CA -- When a person is born with as much talent as Doug Brook, (Jon Davies)  it is no wonder that, when he was growing up, he was  pulled into different directions by each one  of  his abilities and impelled to explore it. And as  he did, metaphorically speaking,  he  created  in himself a new facet, which he polished until it sparkle. After that, he began polishing another one, and then another, transforming his professional life, into a multi-carat diamond.

In a telephone interview  prior to his performing a one-actor role in  SHYLOCK, a  coproduction play with  TABARD THEATRE and SILICON VALLEY SHAKESPEARE in San José,   Cultural World Bilingual interviewed Doug Brook  with the purpose to discuss two of his multiple facets as Technical writer, playwright of several plays, teacher, Jewish scholar, director and actor, to our readers in Silicon Valley. We started our interview by asking him what prompted him to study, theatre.

D.B. "I suppose that everything that I do in life is about audience. My trade: I am a technical Writer, but I also teach on the side, and I do theatre. In different ways, all of them deal with audience, try to convey something to an audience, but each one does it in different ways: a technical writer is trying to tell you how to get from point A to point B. A teacher is trying to impart knowledge or skills to the audience of  his  students. And in theatre, one is trying to convey whatever it is that the show is about to an audience.  These are different audiences and there are different ways to convey the subjects to them, but theatre is a very broad way in which one could convey things to an audience, and different people in the audience can get different things from the same show.  So theatre is very intriguing. "

C.W.B. What background in theatre did you have when you major in theatre?
D.B.: "I started doing theatre in High School. Then I started doing certain plays and eventually in Senior High School I got to write and direct a play. In college, I minored in theatre. After that, I learned skills and I started working for some professional theatres. After graduate school. The first time, I came to California and I spent a couple of years establishing my Hi Tech career but I also started doing theatre and utilizing all the background I had. What I have today is a continuing learning experience that I really consider my background. "

C.W.B.  Now, Doug, let us suppose that you are introducing yourself to a large audience who may not be familiar with you, because we are online. What will you tell them about yourself?
D.B.: "There is a line in Tennyson's poem Ulysses, which says "I am a part of all that I have met" and poetically it is supposed to mean that everything that I have met, or experienced is a part of me. I have a broad swath of things that I do, and most people I encounter find it a very diverse and odd mix. But all makes sense to me because is part of all the things that I have done over time. Everything I do, in some way or another, has been intended to help others or to give something to others. That's why I do theatre, that's why I do technical writing, that's why I do teaching.  All these other things that I do tend to be things that give something back to others, to help them along the way. What I do may not be ennobling them or building houses for people, but always ends up being for the audience. So everything falls under that umbrella."

C.W.B. Discussing your experience as a Director. What in a play makes you select it for production?
D.B.:" It is a combination of factors.  Maybe it will be something that I feel I have enough familiarity with or resonance with the subject matter of the play. That's probably first. Also very important is if you are motivated by the play. Is there something in the play that I could bring out to make it fresh, relevant, interesting and entertaining to an audience?  Other times it is just because I like the show and there is a reason to show it right now. "

The Three Musketeers.   One play he directed       Photo by Evelyn Huynh

D.B: "I always look at a play for providing different levels: There are some shows, some musicals in particular, that when you hear the titles you think that they are simple or fun and that's all they are. Once I directed 42nd street which is a story commonly regarded as a big dance show with music, where the young star gets her big break in Broadway and always have fun. But it is not. There is a lot of meat, underlying the story, because there is a lot of backstage drama in the show. To direct a play, I like to find plays, or musicals, that at the surface level entertain, but if somebody in the audience wants to actually explore the levels of depth in it, the level is there for them as well. So, when I direct, I look for something that has different levels. I don't necessarily need to agree with the play but if the premise of the play is something that I feel motivated to explore, I go for it."

C.W.B. Changing the role, Doug. As an actor, how do you select your roles?
D.B.: "As an actor, what intrigues me is that a person that I am playing in the show makes certain conclusions at the end.  I personally may not agree with them, but that is fine. I think that it is very intriguing, for me, to explore the issues. (As an actor) I cannot disagree or dispute any of the things that the character points out, but I still don't have to agree with all the conclusions the character draws from either. .

D.B: "There are lots of different things (In selecting a role to play) and all depends on the play. Here I will just mention Shylock (the play he is going to perform in June) One of the things that intrigued me about this particular play, is that I always enjoyed exploring The Merchant of Venice" the Shakespeare's play.  I am Jewish and I am readily involved jewishly issues, that always intrigue me, and Shylock is a great exploration of all these issues. But, for every play it is different. One time I wanted to do a mystery play just because the character had an amazing monologue at the end of the act. But, usually, I select to play a role that is going to give me something to bring to the role. "

C.W.B.  This brings us to the end of our interview. I know that in Shylock, you will be playing a character who is  defending his role, as a Shakespeare's money lender Jew, because he played the role as  a villain, and because of it,  attracted unwelcome protests at an imaginary Shakespeare's Festival,  and even closed the show. What can you, as the only actor of the play, tell our readers about the role that will be played live, and streamed online?

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Doug Brook in Shylock   Photo by: Edmond Kwong/image Wurx

D.B.:" This play is a lot of fun, and I don't necessarily mean that it is straight comedy but there are certainly comedic moments in it. The play explores responsibly some significant and timely things in the world around us. It touches on Cancer-Culture; it catches on cultural relations and in the lots of anti-Semitism in particular. But the play also touches on art.  What is responsible to do in art when it becomes dangerous and it touches a lot of timely issues? And here I would like to say that this play does not tell you what you should think. It just tells you that you should think. " (I bolded the one word difference there) Also, I think it was more of "that it is OK to agree to disagree with another person sometimes."

"The character I play, definitely, has his perspectives. But he is exploring them and the audience gets (a chance) to explore them also. And the beauty of this play is that at the end, you don't even have to agree with what the character said, because as he admits the journey is what is important. "

"When I am doing theatre, I don't have an agenda, I don't want to get on the stage to tell people what to think or how people ought to feel, or how to react, that has never been my interest in theatre. I want to put something in front of the audience that they can think about. And, ultimately, this play does that. Which I think is very intriguing. The play is about the protest for the changes in The Merchant of Venice, and I think that the audience will really enjoy the challenge.  At the superficial level, they will be entertained. But at the deeper level, I think that there is lot of stuff that we never thought about sad maybe, just maybe, it will get people to think about it more broadly.  We are at an age where there is so much polarization, and this play provides the audience the opportunity to be reminded that it is OK to disagree with another person, some times. Maybe we don't put on the stage plays like The Merchant of Venice, merely because we consider them ART, but maybe because they make us talk about things we seldom talk about."

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Directed by Jonathan Rhys Williams, SHYLOCK will be performed live online from Tabard's stage using a multi-camera stream from June 4th to June 20.  LIMITED-IN-PERSON TICKETS NOW AVAILABLE with attendance of 50 persons maximum. Tickets must be purchased in advance online. All patrons, volunteers, artists and staff on site must be FULLY Vaccinated with a final shot 2 weeks prior to the performance, and patrons must show vaccine card at the theatre.

To order tickets go to or by phone: 408 679-2330.