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The Doctor, the Nurse, the Troll, the Wife, and the Journalist

A Q&A with the Cast of ‘Quack’

#4899

L-R: Dan Bucatinsky, Jackie Chung, Shoniqua Shandai, director Neel Keller, playwright Eliza Clark, Nicholas D’Agosto and Jessalyn Gilsig at the first rehearsal for the world premiere of “Quack.”

Photo by Craig Schwartz.

Though they’re telling a story of TV doctors, online harassment, and disconnect in today’s culture, the actors of Quack—Eliza Clark’s World premiere comedy onstage at the Kirk Douglas Theatre October 21 – November 18, 2018—are quite the tight-knit cast.

With several actors having participated in developmental readings and workshops months before the first official rehearsal, they’ve had the benefits of a lot of time, collaboration, and discovery. Now in the full swing of the production, we asked the actors about their insight on the creative process and the experience of bringing a story that touches so many hot buttons to L.A. audiences.

Dan Bucatinsky, Dr. Irving Baer

What was your first reaction after reading the script for Quack?
I loved how smart and fast and layered it was. Also—the relevance it has to right now. I also found Dr. Baer to be an interesting, volatile character. Talks fast. Pivots fast. He reminded me of someone. Oh, yeah; me.
What inspirations do you draw from for both your role and the play as a whole?
I admire the physical comedy of actors like Kevin Kline and Nathan Lane. Also colleagues like Sean Hayes. Actors who can straddle the physical, more broad with the more grounded and emotional. And with Dr. Baer, all of this is happening at the same time.
What is your favorite thing about this cast and crew?
Everyone seems to have a real appreciation for Eliza Clark's words. And the vision for the play. And its message and speed. We all work together to try to bring it to life as closely as she had envisioned. I also think everyone has a sense of humor which is so important.
What inspires you as an artist?
I’m always inspired when I see the inspiration or innovation of another artist. A writer. A performer. A visual artist. Musician. Connecting to the “shimmer” (in the words of Dr. Baer) of another artist… It's like a chain reaction. And in turn, I always hope to inspire someone else.
Favorite daytime talk show?
Ellen. Duh.
Dan Bucatinsky and Jackie Chung. Photo by Craig Schwartz.

Jackie Chung, Kelly

What was your first reaction after reading the script for Quack?
This play is smart, fast, and hilarious.
Have you ever had a mentor/mentee relationship with someone?
I have not. And certainly not like the relationship Kelly has with Dr. Baer.
What is your favorite thing about this cast and crew?
The cast and crew are filled with generous, funny, and hard-working people. They’re always making me laugh!
In your mind, what distinguishes theatre from other performance mediums?
That it is live, live, LIVE! Anything can happen. It’s both frightening and exhilarating.
Favorite daytime talk show?
Oprah!
(L-R) Dan Bucatinsky and Nicholas D`Agosto. Photo by Craig Schwartz.

Nicholas D'Agosto, Brock

What was your first reaction after reading the script for Quack?
It's almost like I had to come up for air. The play is engaging and has a lot of momentum, and neither the characters nor the audience are let off the hook regarding the issues packed inside it.
What inspirations do you draw from for both your role and the play as a whole?
There is nothing more important to me, or emotionally potent, as my wife and son. I weave elements of my personal life together with the needs of my character, and work to bring him to life.
In your mind, what distinguishes theatre from other performance mediums?
The audience understands that we are here for them, and that they play a part in the show happening in front of them. They can laugh, cry, moan, gasp, and they know that we are hearing it and feeling it in the moment with them to some degree. That intimacy is not available in TV or film.
What is one thing you’d encourage audience members to do or think about after seeing Quack?
Trust your gut, and talk about and analyze how it really made you feel, even if you think that the thoughts you're experiencing are uncomfortable or unwanted. That's how we get closer to understanding more about others, and ourselves.
Favorite daytime talk show?
Can I say The Price Is Right?


Jessalyn Gilsig, Meredith Baer

What was your first reaction after reading the script for Quack?
My first impression after reading the play was what a satisfying and easy read it was. I was amazed by the layers Eliza had managed to create all the while remaining entertaining. That and also knowing I wanted to play Meredith.
Have you ever had a mentor/mentee relationship with someone?
I actually haven’t. I have an odd mistrust of that kind of relationship. I have certainly admired people and felt very lucky to work with many talented people I have learned from. But I think as a woman in this business, I have learned to keep a distance at all times.
What is your favorite thing about this cast and crew?
From the first moment, I was moved by how kind, generous, patient, and talented the entire company has been. I felt welcomed immediately and have been inspired every day by everyone’s commitment to their department. This has been a very spectacular experience for me.
What inspires you as an artist?
Collaboration is what I love about my work. You can’t do this alone. You need a writer, a director, talented performers, designers, crew, an audience. All the elements to make an experience and to be a part of that gives me a deep sense of purpose. I feel very lucky to have made a career in art. It is not easy but it does feel meaningful.
Favorite daytime talk show?
I love Judge Judy! I know that’s nuts. But I just love how decisive and clear she is. She calls it like she sees it. Always makes me smile.
(L-R) Dan Bucatinsky, Shoniqua Shandai, and Jessalyn Gilsig. Photo by Craig Schwartz.

Shoniqua Shandai, River

What was your first reaction after reading the script for Quack?
I was blown away by how prolific and timely it was, and it seems to have only grown more relevant as the political climate changes.
What inspirations do you draw from for both your role and the play as a whole?
I watched a lot of Angela Rye as an inspiration for River. She’s bold, passionate, and honest, which comes from having a personal stake in the policies she’s fighting for. I wanted River to have some of that weighted awareness that what she’s fighting for isn’t just an abstract idea of “good,” but more so being pushed from the pain of having been wronged.
In your mind, what distinguishes theatre from other performance mediums?
It’s one thing to deliver a monologue brilliantly on camera once. But having to create the same world as vividly as you did the night before, eight shows a week? There’s nothing more exhilarating and humbling as an actor. Nothing compares to it.
What is one thing you’d encourage audience members to do or think about after seeing Quack?
I’d encourage self-examination. Which parts of the show made you laugh or cringe? Which character did you find yourself agreeing with or vilifying? Pick and pull at your own reactions and moral thermometers, and then go talk to someone who doesn’t think like you.
Favorite daytime talk show?
The Tyra Banks Show.
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