Edward Gero

Headshot of a man.
Photo courtesy of Arena Stage

Music Credit: “NY” composed and performed by Kosta T from the cd, Soul Sand.

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Jo Reed: That’s actor Edward Gero and this is ArtWorks, the weekly podcast from the National Endowment for the Arts—I’m Josephine Reed.

Actor Ed Gero is a shining light in the Washington DC theater community. Nominated for 16 Helen Hayes Awards and winning four, Ed began his career as an acclaimed classicist playing Shakespeare on the DC stage in over 80 roles before moving seamlessly to contemporary work. Whether he’s performing the passionate and valiant Hotspur in Henry IV, the uncompromising artist Mark Rothko in the play Red, a combative and charming Antonin Scalia in The Originalist—a role that was written for Ed—the blustering tycoon Harry Brock in the revival of Born Yesterday, or most currently, Tom Everson a beleaguered factory-owner who has fallen victim to a hostile takeover in Ayad Akhtar’s play Junk, Edward Gero always delivers. His portrayal of characters is always authentic, precise and incisive. Whether he’s drinking a beer or sipping wine from a goblet, carrying the play in the leading role, or supporting another actor, Ed Gero richly inhabits each character—giving them texture, nuance and emotionally honesty. He is quite simply a mainstay of Washington DC’s theater renaissance. But when he began his career nearly four decades ago, DC was not the theater town it is today. I wondered, what brought Ed Gero from the New York area to DC?

Edward Gero: I grew up in New Jersey, studied at Montclair State, moved into Manhattan, did my post-graduate work there with a private teacher, got into a company, and in ’83—actually in ’81, I did a job for the Barter Theatre in Southwest Virginia, and they asked me to stay. And in ’82, the Barter brought a season, a six-week season, to George Mason University in Fairfax, and that night we opened with a play called The Corn is Green—and opening night, John Neville-Andrews who, at the time, was the artistic director of the Folger Theatre Group, came to see the show, walked downstairs to my dressing room and said, “Would you like to join the company?” And I had been trained to do Shakespeare, I loved it. I couldn’t believe this was happening. I said, “By all means.” So, in ’83, I came down here for a season. They asked me back. I thought, “Well, I can go back to New York and look for work or stay here and do the work I was trained to do.” And I did, and soon after, Michael Kahn came, and the beginning of the Washington theatre community began.

Jo Reed: Tell me what it was like to be in a theater company, and how that’s different from the way most actors have to work, which is, you know, going from theater to theater to theater.

Edward Gero: Yeah, I mean, there are not many companies. That was the model I grew up thinking and aspiring to. Like, Stratford in Ontario or Oregon “Shakes,” so forth. The Folger was one of the last of those companies. So we were about 12 of us who were hired for the whole season, and you do a range of plays, you might have a leading role, a small role. You’d rehearse during the day, perform at night and spend the year. And what happens is, as artists, you become more aware of each other’s work, you have sort of dealt the short hand, you become deep collaborators. Um, and that—that’s the kind of process that I—I love doing. And it was sort of the guild way of learning—I worked with people who are older, who had been more seasoned, I would watch how they would work and say, “I’ll do it like that,” or, “I’ll never do it like that,” and you begin to develop a real team approach to doing the work.

Jo Reed: I would think, because, even though obviously, with any company, there are people who are—who are more prominent than others; nonetheless, the way roles are just distributed and you can be a lead today and you can be-

Edward Gero: Yeah, a cameo the next night.

Jo Reed: Exactly, the next night.

Edward Gero: Yeah, you play Barnardine in Measure for Measure and the next thing you’re playing Henry V. And that’s the way I was trained to work and hoped I would be able to work. After several years, um, I began to move back into more contemporary work. You know, I—I did every Shakespeare play at the Folger for ten years, and I…I didn’t do anything else, a movie here and there.

Jo Reed: Before we go to contemporary work, what was it like playing Shakespeare, of different plays all the time? To me, that would have been heaven.

Edward Gero: Oh, it was. I—I love it. Shakespeare is my sort of life mentor, the sectarian Bible, it’s the humanist Bible, right? All the life lessons—no no really, all the life lessons I’d ever want to learn, I’ve learned from Shakespeare. So, it was just very enriching, deeply enriching.

Jo Reed: As you said, you then began to do modern work, contemporary work. What was the—what was the pull for that?

Edward Gero: Well I—I’d always loved doing contemporary work. Of course, I love the classics but, you know I thought, you know maybe if I can do some Arthur Miller, maybe they’ll think I can act, you know having seen Shakespeare for ten years. But, no, after a while, I sort of want to have a—a different diet. You know, you want to be able to put your hands in your pocket and not wear a hat with a feather in it and uh, you know, sit on a sofa, and maybe drink a martini and, you know do a contemporary play on stage. So, I started to work with Joy Zinoman at Studio Theater. And, some of my foundational work here in Washington, with uh, contemporary work, was with her—Uncle Vanya, um, we did several Conor McPherson plays there, some Mamet, and I—I really enjoyed sort of that breaking out—and then worked onto more political things after that, Nixon’s Nixon at Round House. But, it was nice to have a balance. My—my favorite day, I think, in rehearsal, we were playing Macbeth at the Shakespeare Theater, with Stacy Keach, and I was rehearsing Uncle Vanya during the day with—with Joy Zinoman, and to do a contemporary play, of course, the great contemporary, dramatic realism with Chekhov, and to do Shakespeare at night, I had a real experience of—the inner experience—of both kinds of writers are the same but in Shakespeare, of course, all the language is completely explicit and in Chekhov, the language just isn’t enough. Now, when Vershinin says to Olga in Act 4, “Thank you for everything,” in Shakespeare that would be a soliloquy—that would be a long speech. But you have to know all the details, and, you know, we knew it between each other. It was just so much fun to do.

Jo Reed: Right, it’s what you have to imply as an actor.

Edward Gero: Indeed, yeah.

Jo Reed: Now, you’ve done a lot of plays at Arena Stage. I think I’ve seen all of them, happily. Most recently, you’re in a play called Junk. Can you just give us a very brief synopsis?

Edward Gero: Yeah, Junk is a play by Ayad Akhtar that was at Lincoln Center, premiered, I guess, a year ago, a year-and-a-half ago or so. It’s the story, loosely based on Michael Milken and the transformation of the American economy in the ‘80s with turning debt into asset and turning the economic structure upside down, really, and moving away from an industrial manufacturing America into sort of a service industry, arbitrage trading kind of thing. It’s a—it’s a procedural kind of piece. It’s a very smart argument about what might be considered to be amoral capitalism versus more personal relationship-based kind of economy, maybe an older kind of economy. And, we’ve all been transformed from American citizens to customers. And that’s—Akhtar was examining that period to say, “How did that happen? How did we become commoditized?” So it’s a really interesting conversation about that. I mean, Milken invented a new kind of economy. He overreached, of course, and it’s now regulated, you can’t quite do that. But the unbridled, amoral capitalism is really what the play is about.

Jo Reed: And you play a character, Thomas Everson, Jr. Who is that?

Edward Gero: Tom is the third-generation owner of a steel mill in Allegheny, Pennsylvania who was the target, the Dow—the first Dow Jones hostile takeover in American history, and he is the owner of the Steel Mill that’s being targeted, the company that’s being targeted by Merken and his guys. What he lacks in business acumen, I suppose, he responds with heart and with loyalty to the workers and to the community. And the sort of, symbiotic relationship between management and labor and building a community as a result, keeping people employed, old-school economy. My dad was a local United Autoworkers president from 1939 to ’65 and so he was working with Walter Reuther as an international delegate and part of the labor movement. And then, his relationship with management was—was fraternal. They were working together. Of course, they had defense contracts, they were making piston rings for World War II. He was deferred. But that old-school, sort of post-depression idea of American industrial manufacturing—that’s who Tom Everson is. And it’s a thing of the past.

Jo Reed: I would think, because of your father, this was something that had resonance?

Edward Gero: Oh, absolutely had resonance. I remember going to the plant as a young boy and watching my dad speak in front of the rank-and-file. Mostly, women, by the way, and mostly Italian-American, at the time. This was in Northern Jersey. When I was born, they all took up a collection and gave me a hundred dollar savings bond that I then used, about 20 years later, to pay for my Union dues to get back into equity—complete the circle there.

Jo Reed: Full circle. And not wanting to give away any spoilers here, but Tom also is a deeply flawed hero?

Edward Gero: Oh, yeah. He’s clearly anti-Semitic, of that sort of privileged class. He’s flawed in that regard. I think there’s shades of ageism in him. I mean, he’s really an old-school kind of guy. Everyone in the play is flawed, and that’s the—that’s really the interesting part about the play. You­—you can empathize but there’s no clear heroes, no clear villains. It’s a very smart play.

Jo Reed: How did you prepare?

Edward Gero: Read The Predators’ Ball. I mean, I was living in Manhattan during the time, and then my friend was working on the street in 1980, so I could tell you about the New Year’s Eve 1980’s in Tribeca with a friend of mine who developed the first—one of the first arbitrage programs for IBM. He had a lovely loft, and it was Bonfire of the Vanities. It was, you know, Miles Davis playing and all kinds of craziness and a lot of Dom Pérignon—you can, you can visualize it, right? So I knew what that sort of 17 percent era was like, you know—it was wild in New York at the time. So there was that to draw from, and just review some of the history and so forth, and the connection with my father and all that. The play is—is so well written that as long as you’re specific about it you can just connect to it. It’s a language play, it’s an argument play, and, all of that is about text analysis, and Jackie Maxwell, who directed it, is, is a genius. She’s a dramaturgical kind of director and she just, she helped layer this thing beautifully.

Jo Reed: I was going to say, because I saw it in New York and I thought that—you know, the play was changed a bit—

Edward Gero: Yes, it was, by an hour. An hour has been cut out of it.

Jo Reed: But the staging was particularly—is so different, and I just loved the way it was staged—

Edward Gero: That’s the Arena. Right? It was perfect for a four ring circus, right? And it moves like that. I liken it to—

Jo Reed: So it was theater in the round, we should explain.

Edward Gero: Yes, right, so there’s, right, theater in the round. There are four entrances, called “voms.” It works like a chessboard. You have camps in either corner. Then the whole place sort of starts to move around circularly. I think of it as um—like those solar system mechanical models where you have the sun in the middle and all the metal pieces with the planets and they spin, and the moons go faster. That’s what it feels like to be on that stage. It’s like juggling—70 people juggling, coming on, passing the ball over to the next scene. It moves swiftly and with precision. And that’s Jackie’s brilliance. It works beautifully for the play.

Jo Reed: Oh, the flow is—is really wonderful.

Edward Gero: Yeah.

Jo Reed: And, it actually made me appreciate staging, but also set design. That is a great set design—

Edward Gero: Yeah.

Jo Reed: And how that can really help, I would imagine, help you inhabit that character.

Edward Gero: Well, absolutely. It’s really minimalist. Misha Kachman, who designed the set, knows that space very well. There are a couple of tables, a couple of chairs. But because of the problems of the time it takes to get on and off, there’s so many transitions. There are like 36 scenes and probably 90 transitions. And how do you make that happen seamlessly and lightly? And, together with the sound and the lighting, it just moves beautifully. It’s just suggestions of reality. It’s all done in light with sound, places us, and it just moves effortlessly. So much so, again, crediting Jackie and the collaboration with the designers, most people don’t even notice the design. They get the argument of the play. It’s so beautifully put together organically, that you don’t even notice it. It’s—it’s really brilliantly done.

Jo Reed: You’re on one hand, and Thomas Keegan, who plays Merkin, is on the other. And, your stories run along parallel lines for the entire play, and then you meet.

Edward Gero: Yeah.

Jo Reed: Can you just talk about how you get ready for a scene like that? Because it’s a doozy of a meeting.

Edward Gero: Yeah, yeah there’s two meetings—one of them—the first meeting is a restaurant, and the big climactic scene is in a board meeting. Well, I have the benefit of having worked with Thomas as a graduate student of mine. So this is the first time we’ve actually worked together. And I knew, I said to him then, I said, “When we finally get to work together, it’s going to be at a time where you’re going to be leading and I’ll be supporting you, I’m sure that’s the case.” That’s of course what’s happened. We’re dear friends. You know, I would say, we’re both actors that are in love with language, in love with text, in love with analysis. And we know how to listen to each other and respond as if it were improv. We know what we’re doing so if the pitch is coming a little bit different we can pass the ball. He’s just terrific in the role.

Jo Reed: You’ve played real-life characters, like Richard Nixon, as you mentioned, and Rothko, and even closer to the bone, Antonin Scalia, especially since he was living as you were playing him and living and working in the same city where you were playing him. Can you just tell me how you get your arms around portraying characters like that when they were living, breathing human beings?

Edward Gero: Yeah, exactly. Well, there’s a great archive of video material for Nixon, and sound, of course, the interviews, the hearings and the recordings and the tapes. He had such great characteristics that are signature. Rothko was a little bit harder. There’s some photographs. He has a written record. He was a great writer, prolific about his process and so forth. But there wasn’t any video. So I just had to draw from photographs. Of course, with Justice Scalia, I had the remarkable series of unbelievable circumstances, improbable circumstances—that I ended up meeting him, spending time with him his last full year of court, becoming his friend. And, the first time in my career, I played an Italian American, and I thought this was a great one to start with. As I said to him, Italian American, Roman Catholic from New Jersey, I’ve got that. I said, “A 45-pound brain, not so much.” And we discovered our grandparents are from similar parts of Italy and I have a likeness to him, physically a little bit. So firsthand, watching him work and getting to know him, uh, informed it in a way that I couldn’t do any other way, which was quite extraordinary. You know, it was life altering and career altering.

Jo Reed: Because you knew him and—and met him, if it were me, I would really have to battle against wanting to please him.

Edward Gero: Well, you know, we both had a vested interest, right? I mean, he wanted to show his best side because he knew I was representing him in public as part of sort of a, you know, a dramatic legacy. And I wanted to have a friendship because I wanted to continue to get to know him. So, we both sort of knew that going in. We never talked politics. You know, we talked about families and religion and music and language and Shakespeare and the Constitution. So, yeah, and he would perform for me. He gave me his best stuff. You know, and he loved it. He was very proud to say he had, you know, that he had played Macbeth and he was the president of the drama society at Georgetown, and Mask & Bauble—very proud of that. So, yeah, we did both have a vested interest in each other. It wasn’t until some decisions came down late in the year that I finally said well I’d better—well I had been to several hearings and then I wrote to him about how I felt about some things. We had lovely correspondence. But, I—I’m still processing it. It was such an impactful experience.

Jo Reed: I can see why it would be. Well, with any role, a classical role, or a biographical role, or a purely fictional role, like Tom, what does it take for you to feel as though you got there—like you really got it?

Edward Gero: Yeah. I’ve been a reader and a student of Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell, and archetypes have helped me, particularly with Shakespeare because they represent this sort of ideal, you know, that are not stereotypes, but they’re sort of energy centers that you begin to contact that sense in yourself, right? So that’s been the way I’ve approached character, trying to identify character traits, trying to think you know, the justice obviously—you’re playing Shakespeare, you’re playing kings, you’re playing fools, you’re playing the Major Arcana deck. So trying to identify in that, sort of, Campbell hero journey, how does my character fit in that larger story? So, that’s the way I’ve approached my entryway into characters. Then, of course, it’s defined more specifically by the given circumstances of the play. But Everson is a dad, he’s a leader. They’re called kings, but he’s the debile king, right, it’s in the Parsifal myth. The young generation is coming to slay the older generation, same thing with Rothko in Red. So with the Scalia piece, it’s Scalia, the mentor, and the clerk, the student. That’s an old trope—and it’s a great structure upon which to tell a tale—same thing with this play. So I try to look at those larger frameworks to fill in the details.

Jo Reed: You also managed to give a character, like Harry Brock, in Born Yesterday. I’m not kidding, you gave him a real dimensionality in that production.

Edward Gero: Thank you. Well, again, going to my dad, I thought, going from Scalia to Harry Brock, I think his name was Broccolini—it was shortened at Ellis Island. I went from the smartest Italian American to the dumbest Italian American in one year. So, still Italian American.

Jo Reed: Seriously, can you just talk about giving texture to characters who really are unlikable? Brock certainly was a bully and a loudmouth but you gave him something else.

Edward Gero: Well, nobody’s perfect, right? I mean, nobody’s perfect. I recognize that person from that era who, not my dad, the men he worked with or the labor leaders of their time. So I recognized that, sort of, film noir era. Great clothes. But he’s funny. Listen, Noël Coward said to Lawrence Olivier, he was doing Arms of the Men, he was playing a character called Sergius, and he just couldn’t get it. And Coward was directing it and he said, “What’s the matter, Larry?” He said, “I don’t like this character. He’s just a jerk,” and Coward said, “No, no, no, no, dear boy—you must love every character you play or you can’t get on the stage and play it.” We’re empathy machines, right? Actors are empathy machines who want to find the humanity in everybody, we want to share that. So we have to find that, whether it’s Harry Brock or Iago, or whoever it may be.

Jo Reed: Who’s the hardest character for you, or one of the hardest characters for you to love that you play?

Edward Gero: Rothko was tough. He was a crank. Nixon was tough. Although it was written in a way it was sort of everyone’s fantasy, so there was comedy about it. Salieri was tough. I mean these sort of ego-driven—I’m not gonna say it, I recognize them I suppose. But, you know, I think probably one of the most difficult ones is the one I’m doing next. I’m going to attempt my Falstaff in the fall. Having played Henry the King and having played Bolingbrook earlier, been on that side of the archetype and now go to Falstaff, I never thought about Falstaff. It wasn’t a part where I went, “Someday I’m going to get there.” Well, here I am, the old fat guy—and that’s a whole different kind of language.

Jo Reed: But do you dislike him?

Edward Gero: Well, you know, I love him, and he’s a reprobate.

Jo Reed: Completely.

Edward Gero: He’s a lovable reprobate. So, yeah.

Jo Reed: That’ll be great. I’ll be there. I will definitely be there.

Edward Gero: Thanks, appreciate that.

Jo Reed: How do you choose the roles that you take?

Edward Gero: You know, that's changed over the years. I just wanted to make sure I had work and now at this stage of my career, I'll talk to theaters once a year, they'll say, “We're doing this would you be interested in this project?” Or in the case of The Originalist—the play was written with me in mind, once in a lifetime. I like to see who's directing, what the project is, where it's being done. That will pique my interest in my curiosity and challenge me. Whether it's the role, or with a particular director, or at a particular theater. Yeah.

Jo Reed: And is that what you're looking for in roles?

Edward Gero: Yeah. I want to be challenged. Yeah, absolutely at this stage of my career. I'm sort of squarely in the niche of the old grumpy old guy, you know from Scrooge, to Rothgo, to Scalia, whatever—or comedy there's some great roles that are still available for an older actor.

Jo Reed: Were your parents theatregoers?

Edward Gero: No, no they weren’t. I stumbled into it in grammar school. In high school, my mother would say, “You started out as an altar boy and then wanted to get the big role.” So when I wanted to be a priest, it wasn’t that. Then someone said, “Do a play.” When I did a Greek tragedy, I said, “Oh, that’s what it is.” I just want to perform. I came from a fairly athletic family, and I’m not a great athlete. My dad was. So I started that. It was different for them, right? We’d listen to comedy albums at home, or we’d listen to some opera at home, occasionally. But they were not theatregoers—moviegoers, but not theatregoers. So they were suspicious at first, because they just wanted to make sure that I would have a secure life, I suppose.

Jo Reed: And acting is not it.

Edward Gero: Yeah, right, exactly. So, I think when people started saying, “Hey, your son’s good,” they said that it was okay. Then when I eventually got to New York and was able to pay the bills they were okay with that.

Jo Reed: Did you have a “aha” theatre moment that made you think that is what I want?

Edward Gero: I knew I wanted to be an actor. I had done a couple plays as a freshman. I really loved it. It was Greek plays. We did Shakespeare—this was the last great flowering of art education in the United States. This was the late ‘60s, early ‘70s. We had drama classes, we had speech classes, they were curricularized—they were not considered extra-curricular or non-academic. It was part of a well-rounded education. So I was very fortunate in that regard. I would go to New York—we lived close to New York, get on the train, go see plays on Broadway. As kids, we, you know for two bucks, and got on the train to go see a matinee for five bucks—it was great and then my high school teacher took me to Central Park to see Hamlet with an actor named Stacy Keach. And it was one of the great landmark productions of the 20th century. It was James Earl Jones was Claudius, Colleen Dewhurst was Gertrude, Stacy Keach was Hamlet, Sam Waterston [as] Laertes, Raul Julia [as] Osric. I went back five times and I watched the Stacy's performance and physically it was interesting it was funny and then he would speak and I understood everything he said and had the experience of “I wish I'd said it like that.” So I actually got to appreciate Shakespeare's language knowing precisely what this actor was experiencing as I want to be like that guy. So he became sort of my hero at a distance and years later he shows up with the Shakespeare theater and we're doing Richard III and every single Shakespeare play since then I was in with him including his King Lear. So when he did King Lear in Chicago and he brought that to Washington, this is in 2006 and 2009, I was playing his Gloucester. So that was another circle that closed. I was in the right place right time and the right people showed up. I was very, very fortunate.

Jo Reed: As an actor can you feel when you have the audience, and conversely can you feel when you’re losing them? What do you feel like you’re—I mean I would overact, which would be the worst thing ever.

Edward Gero: Do less, just tell the truth. Just get back to telling the truth. No, the audiences have been with plays like Red, plays like The Originalist, plays like Junk, the response is immediate. It feels like it's in the current news cycle. It feels very contemporary and their audible. The audiences are gasping and talking back and, “No no no, no,” and yes, it's really terrific. That's my favorite kind of theater. It's really is the power of the theater to present ideas, raise the question, don't answer them, and allow the audience to make up their own mind. It's just great that—that to me is the power of the theater. The place of ideas, the hearing place. I mean where else do you go you have to pay money and everyone listens. They pay to listen, you know, there's nowhere else on the planet where that happens, right? Unless you’re going to the movies, I suppose, but actually let's get together as a community. Someone's going to give or tell a story, probably have a different political point of view, and we're just going to take it. We're gonna listen to it and figure it out. It's great stuff—revolutionary, right?

Jo Reed: I want you to build on that and talk about what it means to be there and listening and watching, but being in a community of other people who are doing it live and at the same time.

Edward Gero: Oh it's remarkable. We have so many people here, who are who are working for agencies, that are outside talking about the play with relationship to Junk and the economy and so forth. You walk into a theater in robes and looking like Antonin Scalia and it was eye-opening I think too many people, but you could feel it and it's great. And listen, there's no are nowhere else in the United States, where artists can speak to power directly. They’re in our audiences, they’re in our neighborhoods, they’re in the our grocery stores. I think Washington really is the Athens of the of the modern world, where artists from all over the world should come and speak to power and you can't do that anywhere else. You can’t do in New York or Chicago or L.A., that's what makes Washington unique. We have access like no other place.

Jo Reed: Tell me a little bit about your teaching. What is it first, what drew you to teaching, but second, what is it that you try to impart to your students?

Edward Gero: Yeah, you know, I always tell them, “Listen, I can't make you a better actor in 14 weeks. We're going to talk about process. Maybe you'll have questions that you develop your own aesthetic. ” What do I tell them in the in the guild tradition? I said I can grade you on work habit, you need to show up, you need to pay attention, you need to tell the truth. You need to let go of the results. So, the sort of the path of being an actor requires a certain kind of professionalism, requires a certain kind of curiosity. So I just try to provoke curiosity. Bring the water, I can all I could do is bring the water, right? There are hard skills, of course to learn—articulation, text analysis. Those are hard skills. In this generation, now, I think it's a little more challenging having grown up in sort of a realistic style in the end of the 20th century, and being trained that way. The social media when I was growing up were eyes. You looked in somebody else's eyes, that was the social platform and you had communication with people directly. It's a different thing now, so to get a young student actor to get used to being with another human being is a challenge sometimes, you know? To just have them look at each other for five minutes and just observe each other and it makes them very uncomfortable. They're not used to that. That's what it requires—certainly for the stage, maybe for the film and something else, but work habit is important to me and assessing where are you now when you begin and let's see how far you've come in how you develop. And you have to meet the students where they are and in the best of circumstances, find the language that will unlock them in some way, where they find how hard it is to get to the place that makes it look easy. We can listen and respond and stop acting, it's hard. It's fun though. It's keeps me off the streets.

Jo Reed: So what's next? I know you're doing Falstaff. Where are you going to play it? What theater? And then, what comes next?

Edward Gero: Well, that'll be at the Folger. I'll go back to the Folger. I haven't been there in, gosh 15 years and that will open in September, and then I'll return to Arena after that to do Newsies and do another grumpy old guy called Pulitzer, and then after that return to the Shakespeare Theater for the first time in about eight years for Much Ado About Nothing. It's a good season lined up.

Jo Reed: That's a great season.

Edward Gero: Yeah. I’m really excited

Jo Reed: Well, thank you. I mean truly. Thank you

Edward Gero: Oh, my pleasure.

Jo Reed: And seriously, for so many nights of wonderful theater. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Edward Gero: Bless you.

Jo Reed: Thank you.

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Jo Reed: That's actor Edward Gero. Our thanks to Arena Stage for helping us arranging this interview.

You've been listening to Art Works, produced at the National Endowment for the Arts. You can subscribe to Art Works wherever you get your podcasts, so please do. And if you like us, leave us a rating on Apple, because it helps people to find us. For the National Endowment for the Arts, I'm Josephine Reed. Thanks for listening.

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From Hotspur to Antonin Scalia, actor Edward Gero can (and does) play all manner of parts. An actor’s actor, he is a shining light in Washington DC’s theater community. He began his career as a classical actor playing some 60 roles for over 26 years at the Shakespeare Theatre Company. But he made the transition to contemporary work seamlessly. Bringing an authenticity and precision to roles as disparate as Mark Rothko in Red, Harry Brock in a revival of Born Yesterday, Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, and Antonin Scalia in The Originalist a role that was created for him. In this podcast, Gero talks about playing Shakespeare, his move to contemporary work, how Washington DC is a distinctive theater-town, and the power and wonder of theater. He is smart, funny and generous—a true bon vivant. Enjoy!