Ashley Ivey appeared in Constellation’s first production and has been an integral part of the company since then. He talked to us about his deep ties with Constellation, and his latest lauded turn in 36 Views.
1. Tell us about your history with CTC and as an associate artist.
I have been with Constellation since it’s beginning, in the first production, A Dream Play. My role as John in 36 Views is my 20th for Constellation!
Being a Constellation Associate Artist (CAA) means being a significant nut and bolt within the Constellation family. There is so much involved in making the theatre work – so anywhere I can help, set up, lend a hand: I’m there. As CAA’s we do it and do it gladly. It is about being part of family and keeping the family alive. Everyone takes part, from Board members to CAAs to volunteers. How wonderful to sit at table, doing a mailing, with Board members, Associate Artists, actors and volunteers – all these people helping out and pitching in.
There are just a handful of shows I have not performed in. Last year I was Allison’s AD in Taking Steps, which was an awesome and great experience. I was about to do Our Class at Theatre J and wanted to be on the other side, watching actor’s performances evolve and seeing what Allison does.
How did you meet Allison Stockman?
Allison directed a cabaret for the In Series and I was Stage Manager. She was working on the Save our Source campaign, as was I. ([the campaign to save the Source building…obviously and thankfully, they were successful!). She told me she was holding auditions for a theatre company she was forming and the first show would be A Dream Play. This is my favorite play of all time and I was floored that it would be Constellation’s first production. I asked for an audition and the rest is history!
3. Tell us about 36 Views and your character
36 Views a play about art, greed, authentic, ethics…or lack thereof! It is a very smart play, which I love. Not just in subject matter, but in the way it is written and presented. As we were preparing, we all discovered how easily the lines locked in our memory – the way Naomi writes is very clear and precise –and the clarity of her writing facilitated our getting these massive ideas in heads. We had such a joyful rehearsal process and were able to play and explore different ideas for each scene.
My character John – is very, very smart – almost to his detriment. He is one of those sweet souls that find joy in knowing things. Has a touch of naivety but is slowly beginning to see the world as it is and is beginning to accept that. He finds himself in an incredible set of circumstances, where he has to sink or swim. He chooses to swim, to do something for himself. He looks out for himself in the end. But he seizes the day without consciously knowing he’s doing it.
4. What kind of research did you do individually or as a cast?
We always do lots of wonderful table work. We dive into the text and ask a lot of questions. Allison and A.J. love to bring their research materials, in this case art books, full of wood block prints and ink paintings. I’d sit in the office during breaks and let the images wash over me.
I also read the only existing pillow-book in the world by Sei Shōnagon. 36 Views jumps off this fact – that there may be another pillow book in the world. It is filled with beautiful writing, in a very specific voice – singularly feminine and female and surprising. I just fell in love with Shōnagon. I continue to read pages from the book in my dressing room…it is this sliver of life is what inspires (my character) John to write.
5. What is next?
All Constellation shows!
Scapin – Gerronte – one of the fathers…my first father role played at Constellation!That will be followed by a role in Love of the Nightingale
To the future! Thanks Ashley.