What brought you to acting?
I came to acting fairly late, although I loved a good story as much as any kid.
My parents were not theater-goers, but nurtured an appreciation of narrative by watching old black & white movies with me.
I saw a terrific production of Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men in middle school and was moved to tears when Lennie died.
My first real stage experience was in a production of The Lark by Jean Anouilh as a college freshman and I never looked back.
What did 10-year-old Mark think he'd be when he grew up?
I was going to be a Marine Biologist. I was an avid swimmer and (thanks to The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau) had an obsession with marine mammals, especially dolphins and orcas.
What is the greatest challenge of playing Polixenes?
Taking on 'Shakespeare' always requires hard work, humility and a certain amount of courage.
An obvious question: How does one play a King, having never met one?
And Polixenes also has to embody seeming contradictions (which, of course makes him human). He is victimized by Leontes' unreasonable suspicions but later threatens to disown his own son upon learning of an unsanctioned love affair.
What do you hope that Shakespeare in the Park fans will take away from The Winter's Tale?
As one of Shakespeare's later plays, The Winter's Tale combines genres. The first part is cruel, dark and tragic. How can we forgive the unforgivable? Is reconciliation even possible? Fortunately, that's not the end of the story. Shakespeare is at his most moving when he addresses the theme of the 'lost thing found.' After the violence and loss of part one, the audience can look forward to a miraculous series of events which will restore and redeem much of 'that which is lost.' I think we all hope and long for the possibility of healing.
Who should play you in the feature film of your life?
This is a hard one. Since I'm still playing me, and the story is not (quite) over!
The two actors that people have said I remind them of are John Malkovich and Kelsey Grammer. I'm flattered because I admire the both - but they're so different from each other. Some other actors whose work I love are Paul Giamatti, John C. Riley, and Philip Seymour-Hoffman (Heaven rest him)
What Shakespeare character to you most resemble?
My Scottish blood always simmers when I'm around Macbeth, but - who knows? Shakespeare doesn't provide much in the way of detailed physical description for most of his characters. We're fortunate as actors, as this allows for a wide variety of interpretations. Whatever 'images' we do have are the result of strong choices made by previous producers; but there's always room for a new take
What's your superpower?
Empathy? Useful for an actor: The curiosity to delve beneath the surface. Not exactly x-ray vision - but a sensitivity to hidden energies - the ability to see and feel the unseen.
Tragedy, comedy or history?
I've had a great time in the Comedies, loved the operatic sweep of the Histories, but the Tragedies have left the deepest, most profound imprint.
Truth or dare?
'The Truth will out.'
Jean-Claude Van-Damme movies.
More about Mark:
Mark is thrilled to be making his Optimist debut. Local audiences may recognize him from his work with several other Milwaukee Theatres.
During his many seasons as a resident actor with the Milwaukee Rep, favorite productions included: True West, The Cherry Orchard, Seascape, The Foreigner, Dracula, King Lear and quite a few A Christmas Carols.
Mark has also spent past summer's with The Utah Shakespeare Festival, American Players Theatre, Berkshire Theatre Festival and SITI Company. Favorite productions include: Endgame, Merry Wives of Windsor, Antony & Cleopatra and The Importance of Being Earnest. Mark is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee's Professional Theatre Training Program