VINCENT SAGONA, like his co-star, BRIAN RICHARDSON, has been a professional actor of stage and screen for more than three decades. He also shares his wisdom\m as a drama teacher at a Professional Children’s School for nearly two of those decades. He has appeared in numerous distinguished productions of some highly recognized works, like Happy in Death of a Salesman, Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Fr. Flynn in Doubt and Thomas in the critically acclaimed one man show, My Italy Story. Soundview Summer, a riveting work that takes a personal look at the after-effects of nuclear exposure, now joins his canon.
Let’s learn from this respected teacher:
Tell us about yourself as an artist?
I am an actor and have been most of my life. I was inspired to pursue a life in the arts when I saw my first play and felt the incredibly powerful phenomenon of having a shared experience with an audience. It changed me. Early in my career, I had the opportunity to study with some wonderful teachers including Uta Hagen and F. Murray Abraham who helped me to develop a reliable and specific way of working. Since then, I’ve discovered teaching and managed to build a life that includes acting, directing and instructing young actors the lessons that I was so lucky to receive. I’m now in my 18th year as the drama teacher at Professional Children’s School where I have been enriched by the opportunity to work with eager, curious talented actors who are passionate about their craft and who remind me daily of the wonders of discovery.
What do you hope to convey to your audience regarding this powerful topic?
I guess that life and relationships can be complicated. Sometimes bad things happen to good people and we all deal with it differently. The play explores the notion of justice and the hypocrisy that exists in corporate America. Does paying money to victims equate with real justice when organizations are not required to make public their culpability? What is the responsibility of the victimized to tell their stories? These are the kinds of ideas posed by the play and it is my hope that it will cause audiences to consider how negligence by major corporations get adjudicated. Also, the play explores the personal costs to individuals, families and the society as a whole. Is redemption possible? Is it possible to right a wrong that has existed for decades? Is it possible to “get one’s life back”?
Do you feel a stronger sense of responsibility when the subject matter is so serious?
As an actor, my obligation remains the same regardless of the subject matter. It is my job to serve the story as truthfully as possible. While I believe that we are telling an important story, I think my approach to the work remains the same. If the playwright and director’s vision is being served by my work, then I feel I’ve done my job.
Tell us your feelings on Indie Theater?
It’s vital. Independent theatre is currently the only place where new playwrights have the opportunity to test out original works. It allows for experimentation, innovation and freedom to fail. Lower ticket prices allow theatre to become accessible to the average patron enabling a wider audience to experience the arts. How else is the next generation going to be inspired to become artists. Given the state of the world right now, we need theatre more than ever. We need new voices, we need the hope that can only be provided by a collective experience.
I’m looking forward to a new teaching opportunity next summer. I’ve been invited to teach a three-week acting workshop for students all over the world that takes place in Spoleto, Italy. Spoleto Study Abroad Summer Session is a hands-on immersion program in the arts and humanities for high school students, ages 15-19, interested drama, vocal music, chamber music, visual arts, photography, film-making and creative writing. I am thrilled to have this exciting new opportunity!