The People’s Champ: Getting to know Chris Davis

John Rosenberg’s Getting to Know series of long-form interviews with Philly artists and theatermakers came out of a series of interviews on his theater company‘s website, including this 2018 interview with local playwright-performer Chris Davis, reprinted here with kind permission.

Chris Davis "presenting" his newest solo show THE PRESENTED, 2018.
Chris Davis “presenting” his newest solo show THE PRESENTED, 2018.

Chris Davis is a Philly playwright, actor and solo performer. You probably know who he is. Chris has created a number of one man shows and traveled the world performing them. Chris is from Oakland, California and speaks fluent Spanish. I worked with Chris on a show a number of years ago and was impressed by the amount of positivity  and goodwill he brought to the rehearsals and performances.

For some reason I have always thought of Chris Davis as the People’s Champ. After interviewing him, I think I know why.

For more info about his work, Visit

Chris Davis with theatrical collaborator/longtime friend Mary Tuomanen, promoting ALCHEMIST, 2017.
Chris Davis with theatrical collaborator/longtime friend Mary Tuomanen, promoting ALCHEMIST, 2017.

John Rosenberg: Who are you?

Chris Davis: I’m Chris

John Rosenberg: Why did you say it like that?

Chris Davis: I don’t know any other way

John Rosenberg: How long have you been doing theater?

Chris Davis: Since high school when I auditioned a lot and never got cast in anything.

John Rosenberg: What do you enjoy about theater?

Chris Davis: I love meeting the people that make it, seeing new work, and always making new friends.

John Rosenberg: When did you start to see yourself as a writer?

Chris Davis: When I was 15 or 16 years old in high school writing stories.

John Rosenberg: What drew you to creating solo shows?

Chris Davis: Money. I tried producing plays and I realized I’ve never make any money from them. So I figured if I cut everyone else out of my life, there’s a chance I”ll make money.

John Rosenberg: How many solo shows have you created?

Chris Davis: I think it’s seven now.

John Rosenberg: How do you go about creating your solo shows?

Chris Davis: Usually something happens in my life or I read a book and I decide to explore that idea.

John Rosenberg: How many times have you performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival?

Chris Davis: 7 x 25 = 175 times

John Rosenberg: What do you think about when you are acting?

Chris Davis: Don’t fuck up

Poster for Chris Davis's adaptation of APOCALYPSE NOW, 2016.
Poster for Chris Davis’s adaptation of APOCALYPSE NOW, 2016.

John Rosenberg: What is the worst production you have been involved in?

Chris Davis: I think I mentally blocked ‘it’ out.

John Rosenberg: What have you been doing for the past four years?

Chris Davis: Performing as much as I can and working on a house.

John Rosenberg: What do you mean you are working on a house?

Chris Davis: I mean I bought a house and it’s old so I have to fix it.

John Rosenberg: What do you hang on your walls of your domicile?’

Chris Davis: I have a lot of prints of paintings. I just bought an Edward Hicks piece. I have that Dega Ballet piece. Some abstract art. Self-portrait of Frida Kahlo. Another Frida Kahlo.

John Rosenberg: What was your address in Oakland growing up?

Chris Davis: 1058 65th street, Oakland, California 94608

John Rosenberg: Where is the house you bought?

Chris Davis: Point Breeze, near 21st and Reed.

John Rosenberg: Do you have a code you live by?

Chris Davis: Always say yes to new opportunities

John Rosenberg: What is one of the stories from your life you like to share with people for them to get to know you?

Chris Davis: I performed a show Drunk Lion in an alleyway (Orange alley I think) in San Francisco. We closed off the alley, performed the show, and then there was a punk band. I thought that was cool.

John Rosenberg: Who are some of the people who have influenced your own work?

Chris Davis: Everything I’ve read, especially fiction. Lately Karl Von Knausgaard.

John Rosenberg: Is there a piece of art that makes you feel like everything is going to be okay?

Chris Davis: This is usually whatever book I’m reading, so I’ll say volume three of My Struggle by Knausgaard.

John Rosenberg: What has captured your imagination in the work of Karl Von Knausgaard?

Chris Davis: His honesty and how forthright he is about his life, and personal flaws.

John Rosenberg: What is your relationship with books you have read?

Chris Davis: I feel like they become a part of me throughout the rest of my life.

John Rosenberg: Have you read Dianetics?

Chris Davis: No

John Rosenberg: What do you experience in your head when you feel positive?

Chris Davis: Endorphins.

John Rosenberg: What do you experience in your head when you feel negative?

Chris Davis: Bad endorphins.

Chris Davis plays Vronsky in ANNA K (Photo credit: Courtesy of the Artist)
Chris Davis plays Vronsky in ANNA K, his adaptation of Anna Karenina, 2014.

John Rosenberg: What patterns of behavior positive and negative can you recognize in your life?

Chris Davis: Positive behavior is working hard and trying to create new work even when it feels / seems / will not ‘lead’ anywhere. Negative is anything dealing with addictive substances.

John Rosenberg: How do you define success for yourself?

Chris Davis: Staying positive and making new shows, and try not to think about success.

John Rosenberg: Where have you been in Mexico?

Chris Davis: Chiapas, Mexico City, and Guadalajara. Beaches: Cancun and Puerto Vallarta.

John Rosenberg: How many different versions of yourself are there?

Chris Davis: Millions.

John Rosenberg: How many pairs of pants do you own?

Chris Davis: Two or three.

John Rosenberg: What music are you done listening to?

Chris Davis: This is hard I never feel done with music. That being said I really don’t like Radiohead’s album Hail to the Thief and I will never listen to it again.

John Rosenberg: Why will you never listen to Hail to the Thief again?

Chris Davis: The song “Rain Drops”.

John Rosenberg: Who is your closest friend?

Chris Davis: My partner Hallie Rumsey-Lasersohn.

John Rosenberg: Who are some of the Philly artists whose work you enjoy?

Chris Davis: So many. I enjoy the work of:Tommy Choinacky,Applied Mechanics,Maria Shaplin,Becky Wright,Adriano Shaplin,Kate Raines,Eliana Fabiyi,Katonya Mosley,Betty Smithsonian,Rachel Fogletto, Kate & Aaron and everyone at Good Good Comedy,John Jarboe,Mary Tuomanen,Jess Conda,James Ijames,Wilma Theater and Blanka,Walter DeShields,Jimmy Grezlak,Daniel Park,Carlo Campbell,Brenna Geffers,Ross Beuschler,Robert DaPonte,Berserker Residents Justin / Dave / Brad,Lee Minora,Sarah Knittel,Scott Sheppard,Jenn Kidwell,Alice Yorke,Azuka Theater,Corinna Burns, Dito,Eppchez! ,Mal Cherifi,Donna Oblongata,MJ Kaufman,Sam Henderson,Bethanne Frazer, NO Face,Candra Kennedy, Jeremy Prouty,Chelsea Murphy, Magdalene, John Rosenberg (You),Josh McIlvain,Chris Munden, all the critics of Broad Street Review, Wendy Rosenfield,Mark Cofta,Cameron Kelsall, ok so there’s a lot…I hesitate to miss anyone,Tribe of Fools,Almanac, many many many more.

John Rosenberg: Where do you see yourself in the Philly Theater community?

Chris Davis: Honestly, I have no idea. Somewhere on the outside looking in.

Chris Davis The Violence of the Lambs
Chris Davis in his solo show THE VIOLENCE OF THE LAMBS, 2013,

John Rosenberg: Do you want to be on the inside of the Philly Theater community or do you enjoy where you are at?

Chris Davis: I enjoy where I am, but I like any change, and hopefully that change will come at some point.

John Rosenberg: Were you worried about Y2K?

Chris Davis: I was yes, I bought into some of the hysteria.

John Rosenberg: Where did you spend New Years 2000?

Chris Davis: Damn I can’t remember. I think I was in California with my mom at a New Year’s Eve party.

John Rosenberg: What is the closest you might have come to dying?

Chris Davis: I had typhoid in Mexico in 2006, and I went undiagnosed for five days.

John Rosenberg: What is the closest you have come to killing someone?

Chris Davis: I haven’t. But I’ve had fantasies that if anyone threatened the people I loved I’d respond like some super hero.

John Rosenberg: What can you do without?

Chris Davis: Ketchup, I never got into it.

John Rosenberg: Do you have any routines you adhere to?

Chris Davis: Waking up. Going to sleep late. I find it really hard to have a set routine without a full-time job.

John Rosenberg: If someone is looking for you, where should they go?

Chris Davis: Fairmount Park Bike Loop.

John Rosenberg: What the fuck is a residency like?

Chris Davis: Wish I knew.

John Rosenberg: What did you have for dinner last night?

Chris Davis: Brined pork chops and broccoli florets.

chris davis drunk lion
Chris Davis in DRUNK LION, 2013.

John Rosenberg: Do you have a go-to dinner that you make for people coming over?

Chris Davis: I wish.

John Rosenberg: How do you respond to pressure?

Chris Davis: Try to ignore it and my hands sweat profusely

John Rosenberg: How much money do you think I have?

Chris Davis: Damn. I hope 5,000 dollars.

John Rosenberg: Do you have any superstitions?

Chris Davis: Be kind to people even when it’s hard or bad shit happens to you.

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