Philly Actors Who Are Better Than You (at acting) and Deserve to be Seen

James Tolbert, Anna Watson, and Sebastian Cummings in Rosenberg's QUEEN OF ALL WEAPONS.
James Tolbert, Anna Watson, and Sebastian Cummings in Rosenberg’s QUEEN OF ALL WEAPONS.

While John Rosenberg lived and worked in Philadelphia, I wrote an article about the playwright calling him “a playwright you probably don’t know, but should”. As the years pass since he moved back to California, the feeling remains: Philadelphia lost a fiercely original, strikingly insightful writer and the city’s theater is poorer without him. Fortunately, Rosenberg (or at least his writing) returns to town October 21-29, 2017, with But Next Not This, a uniquely staged play taking place simultaneously in Philadelphia and Los Angeles. (Tickets and info.)

I asked Rosenberg to contribute to my week of content on local arts publication Curate This (which also featured excerpts of our Google chats about theater). His submission included a section recommending some local actors and other peeps which was cut from the published article for space and coherence. Here it is. —Phindie editor Christopher Munden

photo by Kyle Cassidy
“The best actor in Philadelphia”: Jennifer Summerfield (right) with John Rosenberg in ALP D’HUEZ. Photo by Kyle Cassidy.

Casting actors you don’t know is sometimes everytime getting a dog from the animal shelter. They are nice and they smile and do everything you say and shit is cool for a while but then at some point they flip the fuck out and bite you or run away.   

I never know how actors will perform until the actual show. Rehearsal is fun and hooray, actors can knock it out during rehearsals and be off book…but the ones best in rehearsal sometimes just shit the bed as soon as the show starts or someone drops a line. They can’t walk through the door and continually attack the next moment and disregard the pressure.

Sober or hungover, i get sick before every single show i put on. i feel terrible until the actors get to the theater. it is a terrible thing to admit, but actors make me feel safe. i love them. i do look forward to when i will be able to use cyborgs and not have to pay actors, but i love actors.

The only thing i love more than actors is talented actors who have worked with someone i know and don’t fold under pressure. So i want to mention a few actors in philly you should could will have already or will never work with that did not bite me in the face physically or emotionally too bad and are really really really talented.

there are people who people already know about that don’t need my bullshit plaudits- ben grinberg the clown hearthrob, the people’s champ chris davis.

The best actor in philadelphia is jennifer summerfield. She is the best. I did a thing with her and she is the best. there to work, doesn’t drop shit, brings none of her personal life (which is quite nice) to rehearsal or production. She does a lot of work with companies where she plays parts other people have played. I think that shit is boring and dusty and stupid. I think her ability and talent is wasted on old shit. I don’t know why playwrights don’t build whole new shows around her. fuck seeing her in some classic shit. My favorite moment with jenny (don’t call her that) was when i jumped on one of her lines in a performance and she snapped back, ‘will you fucking let me finish??!?!!?!?!’

Wyatt Michael (formerly Anna Flynn Meketon) in Rosenberg’s upcoming, bicoastal production of BUT NEXT NOT THIS.

anna flynn meketon was in a bunch of shows i did in philly [and also in But Next Not This, now going by Wyatt Michael—ed]. anna is fantastic. you only have to tell them something once. anna is on the phone all the time, but hears everything you say. anna might end up being a rock star instead of an actor, they is so fucking super good on stage. anna has played my sister and my sister in law in a few plays. anna is effortless and wonderful and the future and the future is now.

she went to pig iron skool so she might be like fuck your shit now that i am doing real shit, but sarah knittel is funnier than you and me. i was gonna do a full length with her but then we moved and i will never get over the fact that i didn’t do it. sarah knittel can take your weird way of talking and get it right away and make it seem real. She is easily bored so don’t bore her with your shit.   

andrew carroll– dude is simply fantastic. super strong training, down to work. he is a busy dude so might be hard to book for shit. but great voice, great stage presence. don’t let him play a nice guy. i know he has a super vicious angry streak somewhere inside of him and I would love to see him play a nice guy who hits a woman and then lies about it.

anna watson played a german revolutionary with a burnt arm high on crystal meth in a show with me. Anna isn’t interested in playing boring shit. I don’t know if she is still acting, but if she is and you have something weird and strange for her to play, find her. Don’t tell her i sent you.  

i almost did a thing with sam sherburne. dude is very funny and is a well meaning guy. very natural shit. He plays santa claus at macys so go check him out.  

laura sukonick is the most fearless actor i have ever worked with. We almost killed each other arguing in rehearsals. leave her alone in rehearsal, don’t go down the rabbit hole trying to control her. don’t worry, she will attack every moment in performance, every pause, every chance of energy to go weird. she is busy being a therapist and helping people, but laura is fearless as shit and should be acting. plus seemingly every dude is in love with her and will come see her in a show more than once.

overlook the fact that she might chew gum during the audition, francesca piccioni is order and ration and logic in your cast, the heart and sweetness. cesca will have her shit memorized memorized memorized. Push her to show her vulgar and ugly side so she can be beautiful.   

bob steinman– i have no idea how to spell his last name [it’s Stineman—ed]. Bobbo is a good actor who is intense but has ruddy cheeks. Bobbo is the guy who will rehearse hard and then clean the theater after everyone else leaves. I think it would be cool to see bob play a west point grad hopelessly lost staring at the wrong side of a map in the middle of a firefight.  

The King aka the best bar none- james tolbert the third. the man is fucking crazy. i say this openly because he will and did say the same thing about me and we are both right. James knows the score and what he is working for. his talent and energy and intelligence on stage are bar none. James is the best best best. who knows what he will say. he might hit every cue or he might drop half the show. Regardless, he will give the best, most truthful, emotional performance every time.Or he wont. Haha, Jesus christ the show is never boring with james on the boards.

Cast all of these people.

Write characters based on them.

They are more talented than you and deserve to be seen.

BUT NEXT NOT THIS will star Anna Micheal Anna Michael and Alexis Pozonsky in Philadelphia and Jill Galbraith and Lyssa Samuel in Los Angeles. Performances are October 21, 22, 28, and 29, 2017 at 5pm EST at 1318 Crease Street in Philadelphia.

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