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Transitioning between film and stage

Actor Andrew Perez played Klaus Kinski both in film and live performance during the Ashland Independent Film Festival. Klaus Kinski was an explosive, eccentric German actor, who was directed by Werner Herzog in a number of films including: “Fitzcarraldo,” “Nosferatu the Vampyre,” and “Aguirre, the Wrath of God.”

The film “My Dinner with Werner” is an uproarious spoof, directed by Maverick Moore, portraying a murderous battle between, Klaus Kinski and Werner Herzog. Perez’s one-man theatrical performance, “The Second Coming of Klaus Kinski” is a thrilling tour-de-force, written by Perez, and impeccably directed by Eric G. Johnson.

I met with Perez and Johnson at the Schneider Museum of Art where we viewed the Apocalypse exhibit.

EH: How did you construct “The Second Coming of Klaus Kinski?"

AP: The logic of it is that he is dying. It is a platform for his redemption, where his soul is doing battle in his moment of passing. It’s like a dream. His demons start ambushing him, and he’s defending his life, which leads him into the past.

EJ: He’s defending his right to project his artistry and his own legacy.

EH: What were early influences that pointed you toward film acting and directing?

AP: My mom was a big movie fan and acting fan. She’d always point out good acting to me. When I was 10, we saw “Cape Fear” with Robert De Niro. She would say, “That’s good acting.” It made an impression on me.

EJ: My parents would take me to advanced films, for a 5- or a 6-year-old. I remember seeing “Barry Lyndon,” when I was 5, and thinking this movie would never end. I remember seeing “The Godfather,” and all these crazy movies.

EH: What is the difference between the theater and film experience?

AP: I love acting in both. The great thing about film is that you have some kind of transcendent scene, and it’s captured. It’s in the can, and that’s forever. The challenge of theater is that, every time, you go through the whole thing again and fresh for the first time. You can’t rest on anything you’ve done before.

EJ: Yes, you’ve got to deliver that night, right then, right there. Nothing matches the magic of live theater when it is working: There are all those people in a room, who are all sharing this moment, and then it’s over, and you’ve all done it together.

A film captures the magic. It’s more interior. It’s almost like the difference between the novel and the theater.

AP: I love how theater is like communion. Theater is kind of like how church should be. When it’s powerful, I feel that people are woken up and reminded of the ephemeral nature of life, and that we’re all together, we’re all breathing the same air as people telling the story.

I think of athletes that have to get up for this big game. It’s an event kind of like an Olympian event. Theater teaches you to accept, even more than film, because you have to keep going in spite of the fact that it’s going to be different every time. You think, “This scene worked so well yesterday, why isn’t it today?”

EJ: You have to keep going, and find that magic in a different beat.

AP: That’s something that I love about theater.

EJ: They both just serve the soul. It just depends on what you need: to fill in your soul at any given time.

The audio recording of, “The Second Coming of Klaus Kinski” should be available on play4keeps.org after May 9. For inquiries about the live performance, visit: klauskinskilive.com. The twitter handle is: @klauskinskilive. To contact Perez, e-mail: actorandrewperez@gmail.com. To contact Johnson, visit: eric_johnson1@yahoo.com.

Evalyn Hansen is a writer and director based in Ashland. To read more interviews with fascinating people, visit her blog: ashlandtheater.net. Connect with her at evalyn_robinson@yahoo.com.

Andrew Perez