Nobody’s nicer than Aaron Roman Weiner. Want to play catch? He’s your guy. Need to raise money for your favorite charity? Call him up. Got two completely different, complicated parts in a World Premiere play? Great, he’ll see you at rehearsal. And while this is Aaron’s second time on the Labyrinth stage (the first in Melissa Ross’s Thinner Than Water), it’s his first as a Member of the Company. We talked with him recently between handfuls of cashews.
So, Mr. Weiner: where are you from? What got you started acting?
I’m from Indianapolis, born and raised a Hoosier, but I’ve always felt a pull to the Pacific Northwest, where my parents have relocated and much of my family lives. I went to a small Montessori school through 8th grade. The school’s founder had been a ballet dancer in New York, and we were required to take dance twice a week. I was a lousy student, and she had the idea to throw me in our tiny school plays, turned me onto Interlochen Arts Camp, and encouraged me to audition for the local Nutcracker, a show I ended up touring with in 7th grade. A year later, sitting in a Max and Erma’s (every table had a phone on it, and you could call anyone in the restaurant), I called a table pretending to be Michael Jackson’s agent. The guy who answered happened to be an actual agent, and we ended up working together for a couple years.
Huh. Well, you are a member of the most recent class of Labyrinth Company Members — how did you get involved with the Company? How would you describe your road to being made official as a member?
I came to Lab as an intern in 2001, and I love that I came in that way. It’s really satisfying to feel like I’ve paid my dues physically and creatively. I lugged stuff, printed scripts and volunteered for events, did tons of readings, and then last year, my first production with the company. There are a handful of us in the company that started as interns. Ten years on, to finally become a member was really special and important to me. When talking about the company, it felt like it was time to stop saying “they,” and start saying “we.”
Ad the last time Labyrinth audiences saw you was in Melissa Ross’s Thinner Than Water. What have you been doing since then? Getting married, perhaps?
Yes — since Thinner, I proposed, got married, and opened a twitter account. I love being married. I don’t understand Twitter.
It’s complicated. Now, this is your second show in the intimate Bank Street Theater. What are the benefits and challenges of performing here? How do you approach it?
For my money, the intimacy is nothing but a benefit. The audience in the front rows are practically in that bar with us, and I love that. You can’t BS an audience that’s in that tight. The challenge is in being seen by all three sides, but I try to leave that to my director.
Good idea. So — without giving too much away, you play an ambitious television producer in the show — some might one of the forebears to today’s reality TV producers — have you given any thought to that connection? The way in which TV has a tendency to sensationalize difficult moments in ‘real’ people’s private lives for popular entertainment? Without judging it necessarily, how do you go about playing someone like that?
One of my characters is a fictional producer from “This is Your Life.” In the ’50’s, a critic from The NY Times accused the show of “exploiting the raw and private emotions of the unfortunate.” When I see some of the reality garbage on TV, I always think the sky is falling, but it’s true that it’s not so new. Television was much more of an event then. It’s not fragmented like it is today. Forty million people would sit down to watch “This is Your Life.” I can’t think about any of it negatively in our show. With an audience that big there’s a tremendous opportunity to effect people’s lives. I have to spend the show fighting for something that I feel could positively effect my life and maybe my country. That’s not so hard.
I suppose not. Finally, what are you looking forward to about the rehearsal process and the production? What will you be working on?
I love rehearsal. Working on two different characters is a unique challenge; attempting to create two distinct, fully alive human beings. I love working with my company in our space. It feels like coming home.