The Sound Inside is playing at the Pasadena Playhouse September 6 – October 1. Today, we are joined by Anders Keith, who offers us a glimpse into his journey, both on and off the stage.
By Jordan Lynn
Through his unique insights, we get glimpses of “The Sound Inside.” Our conversation delves into the essence of the play, the creative process, and the magic that unfolds when words come to life under the spotlight.
Can you tell me a little bit about your journey as an actor? How did it get started? What sparked your interest in acting?
When I was 11, my grandparents wrote a play for me, which we performed for their senior center. We rehearsed it in a corrugated tin shed, a barn, and performed it for the very enthusiastic senior citizens of Snohomish County, Washington.
When I was around 12 years old, we moved back to South Pasadena. All through high school, I did theater at a little Pasadena community theater, called Theater 360, and had the extreme luck of getting into Julliard my senior year of high school,
I just graduated in 2022 and I’m back here.”
What drew you to accepting your role on The Sound Inside?
Well, I read the script. That was the first step.
The person I was reading it with said, ‘Oh, Anders, this is you!’ But I had a trip planned exactly when the play would be occurring. I soon realized, oh, yeah, I could really do well in this character.
I moved the whole trip forward, just so I could do this. That was before I had gotten a callback. I just sort of had a feeling. I also had previously met the director, the great Cameron Watson. I had the remarkable luck of being assigned him as my acting coach. Then, this play came around, it was being directed by him, and it was a part that really spoke to me. An enthusiastic character, in an Ivy League school, which is funny because I never could have gotten into an Ivy League school. The two roles I’ve played getting out of school, have been two Ivy League students.
One from Harvard, one from Yale. If you took a look at my transcript from high school, you would see I never would have had any chance of doing that. But it’s quite nice. It’s quite flattering. You read a play and you say it out loud and you just know the shape of their thoughts. It fits with your voice and it just clicks.”
Do you have a special process in preparing to portray a character on the stage?
Yes, my entire process starts with the concept of play.
There are some actors whose process has to do with taking themselves very seriously, and maybe even thinking they are the character. That’s not me. I learn the lines, I try to explore the world as much as possible, whatever things are referenced, I try to go read, or listen to, or experience, and I take that into the room and I play.
I try to have as few opinions about myself and the play as possible… to make myself a malleable piece of putty that can be shaped by the director, what I get off of my scene partner, and what I can react to from them. Very little is calculated beforehand. So I get in the room and I take these lines that are like tennis balls and I play ball.
I toss them back and forth, and I try and to give them a curveball, try and do it under the legs, without looking, try it every way we can, and eventually it comes together. I very much love the word and the concept and the role of being a ‘play-er.’ So to speak.”
Do you do anything special to make a bond with other actors before you, meet on the stage, or is it all built while you’re on stage together?
In this particular case, Amy [Brenneman] has just been a joy to work with, we just chat. We can’t help ourselves; we chat about the play; we chat about life. I don’t think we would have ended up in this play had we not had similar ways of thinking, and processing the world.
The characters in this play are analytical, and yet it’s a play about memory, which lives in the body. It’s a play about death, which also has to do with the body. It’s these people who can operate in this Ivy League, intellectual world and yet are true salt of the earth, deep feelers. That’s where the actor comes in and out of both of us. But, yeah, it’s very easy to get along with her and, otta give it to the casting of people. I think they picked two actors who were gonna get along pretty well.
It’s just the miraculous luck and situation that is this play, to be with Amy and be enjoying her as my co-star.”
Without any spoilers, what do you hope viewers take away from your portrayal on the overall performance in this play?
I hope people take away a bunch of questions. I hope people think, ‘Oh, could this have happened? Could that have happened? What was this?’ The play isn’t vague. That’s not quite what I mean. It just leaves you like a good book. In that you put it down, but it stays with you for a while. I think people are going to leave the theater uplifted and crushed. I hope, I really hope that they leave sad and happy.
I hope they leave wanting to read a good book, any one of the books mentioned in the play. I hope people leave and say, ‘You know, I want to read. I want to really sit down and enjoy that book, even if it’s not one that was referenced, but oh, this book has always stuck with me. I used to read this every year.’
Or, the other side, and I could leave this play and think, ‘Well, I want to write a book. I want to write a novella. I want to… take a writing class.’ I think it’s a miraculous play in that it’s about writing, its form is that of a book, and yet it doesn’t live on the page. It’s thrilling and exciting and happens right in front of you and takes you for a ride. At no point does it feel like you’re sitting and reading a book literally, but rather it takes you on the journey of being wrapped up in a book.”
The Sound Inside By Adam Rapp Directed by Cameron Watson Cast: Amy Brenneman and Anders Keith September 6 – October 1 Pasadena Playhouse 39 S. El Molino Avenue Pasadena, CA 91101 pasadenaplayhouse.org
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