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A Selection of Performances

As Jerry in the Zoo Story
by Edward Albee

This play was THE play (which I read when I was 17) that most influenced my wanting to become an actor and also a playwright. Jerry is a wise, transient, with great compassion and insight, but he's also confused, frightened, self-testing. A complicated role and play, but very challenging and rewarding. You can abandon yourself to a character like this once your prep work is done and art can happen - true inspiration. And it did for me in this role.

"Jerry is played by John Monteleone, an actor who is more than capable of handling Mr. Albee's complex character... his performance is a mixture of wild-eyed fear and soaring strength."
Leah D. Frank,
THE NEW YORK TIMES


(backstage gossip):

I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THIS PLAY! This play is truly a GREAT WORK OF ART and a great work of playwriting and craft. This play and The American Dream were two of my favorite plays when I was 17 and the character of Jerry was one of those roles that excited me so much I wanted to become an actor - I begged the drama coaches in my High School and College to do the play casting me as Jerry. I am not all that crazy about Albee's other works although I know he's a great writer - I don't like full-length plays as much as one -acts (that's not a 100% truth) but there is something profound about what is going down in this play and I love the one-act form - I like 10 minute plays too - you can create a metaphor, an allegory, a statement and even work through some dense dialogue in a short period of time. Obviously longer plays, if written well, allow for a great many more intricate levels and layers.

I'm not sure why at 17 I loved reading the play so much. I think growing up, we need and want to be heard, listened, acknowledged and we understand the pain of adults not listening to us or taking us as seriously as they really need to - because we take ourselves seriously at any age. On a more artistic front, the play allows Jerry and Peter to really NEED one another - Jerry needs to reach those people who have alienated him from society, as a means of last redemption - a Christ-Like Mythic Image I suppose - and Peter is a suppressed, unhappy man who somehow admires Jerry's openness, honesty, passion and purity, all of which have been replaced with cliché's of living for Peter. This is a bare overview but that is the crux of the play. I was able to perform this at a small theatre in Long Island when I was 34, double the age of 17 ironically. Lane Luckert, a great actor and comic actor as well, worked in the box office, I taught acting and we squeezed in a rehearsal of the play after we were done with all the other tasks of being part of a theatre. Lane was really supportive in this play - very easy to work off of, always responding to what I was doing or saying and vice versa. This is where acting becomes so interesting - when you have two great roles and two competent actors learning how to react and act from those inner nuances of two people you are not - but understand, who begin this amazing dance. The surprises are all that matter really, and getting to the place where you don't hurt the script but change moments every time you do the work, it exciting and revealing about who you are, who the character is, what acting is, and being IN the art. Being IN the creation of a character's humanity, is expanding your own simultaneously - there is no other art that can connect you to what it means to be as human as acting in a GREAT role. Typecasting, doing the play or film for money or to be "part of the team telling the story" sucks to me. Just SUCKS.

The director just ran through the play - this was really upsetting but I was used to this dude after working at that theatre for a while - so I found ways to discover the work without the director. I learned to say yes, and nod, smile and then do what I wanted anyway. Bad directors are abundant - it's an amazing reality - when you find a good one - MARRY THEM (artistically I mean). Nevertheless, we did the play and I explored the character in many ways with each performance as that was the freedom of working in a small, non-equity company for me and why I did it - I wanted to find the play, the character, and the only way for me is deep rehearsals, and performances. I later directed this play with advanced adult acting students of mine. I want to make the film of this play - maybe I should talk to Albee about it.

The reviews were good. I think by this point I didn't care about the review as much as how I felt about what I was creating artistically. I was never satisfied. I suppose I never am.