Guest Actor Blog: PETER VAN NORDEN

“Listen. And respond.” “Work off what your acting partner gives you.” “Get out of your head…leave yourself alone…live in the moment.” Phrases that actors hear, learn and try to live by all their lives. We spend weeks of rehearsals trying to recapture and relive our first impulses to written scenes and situations. Not always as easy as you’d think.

Last night I was privileged to take part in this truly remarkable event — AN OAK TREE — an event where those catch-phrases and acting ideas were brought home in a shattering clarity, ending in an emotional fulfillment that never felt anything less than truthful and honest. And that’s a performing artists’ ultimate goal, isn’t it? Truth shown through honest emotions and reactions.

Tim Crouch has given his own enormously loving gift to the acting and theatre-going community — one that requires complete trust – a trust that Tim makes so easy and pleasurable to join in on – a give-and-take that becomes it’s own spiritual journey — reflected brilliantly in the spiritual journey of the two characters. The constant layering of ideas and realities seem to have a profound resonance with the audience, the guest actor and, I suspect, with Tim himself. Every performance a new journey. As Tim so keenly observes: “The skeleton remains the same; the skin changes each night.”

AN OAK TREE has an enormous heart at its core. As does Tim. As do his producers and his crew. I now feel I might be lucky enough to carry a small part of that heart within me. And I’m honored to do so.

Peter Van Norden

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PETER VAN NORDEN appeared in An Oak Tree at The Odyssey Theatre on Weds., January 20th, 2010.

Peter’s most recent appearances: at San Jose Rep. in the new South African play, GROUNDSWELL. In L.A., Aristophanes’ THE WASPS at the Lost Studio Thr. in Hollywood, and as ‘Ben Franklin’ in the Mark Taper Forum workshop of the new musical, POST OFFICE. Also, as ‘The Lawyer’ in AMERICAN TALES (Antaeus); TOP SECRET: BATTLE FOR THE PENTAGON PAPERS (LA Theatre Works and National Tour and soon to be seen at the NY Theatre Workshop in NYC); TUG OF WAR and THE WASPS (Getty Villa); THE WILD PARTY, LOOT (Garland Award) for the Blank Thr. Co. Peter also recently voiced the entire audio book version of John Updike’s collection of short stories entitled THE MAPLES STORIES for the BBC America.

In his native NYC: LITTLE JOHNNY JONES (with Donny Osmond); HAMLET (with both Kevin Kline and Sam Waterston); HENRY V (with Meryl Streep); JUNGLE OF CITIES (with Al Pacino); and SAINT JOAN (with Lynn Redgrave).

Regional Thr.: Has appeared at most of the regional reps throughout the country, including The Old Globe in San Diego, San Diego Rep, The Guthrie, Center Stage (Baltimore), Seattle Rep., Intiman Thr.; San Jose Rep (San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Award as Best Actor in Shaw’s MAJOR BARBARA); Laguna Playhouse; Arizona Thr. Co.

Film and TV roles include leads opposite Oscar winner Jodie Foster in THE ACCUSED, as Steve Guttenberg’s inept partner in POLICE ACADEMY 2, and as ‘Ralph Brentner’ in the Stephen King mini-series, THE STAND. He has appeared in dozens of other films and TV shows, most of which he has forgotten. If you remember any of them, he is both amazed and grateful.

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