You’ve seen him in Men’s Lives, R & J & Z, Romeo & Juliet, Antony & Cleopatra, and 10 Real Star Acts, but can you say with certainty that you know Per Janson’s go-to fictional quartet for mechanical failures? No? Then you’ve come to the right place.
1. Where did you grow up?
I grew up in a family of six in three places: Toledo, Iowa (pop. 2,300) until age 11; Iowa City (pop. 60,000) until age15; and Seattle (pop. 533,000) until I went to college, all of which helped me to feel at home now in a variety of settings.
2. How would your elementary school classmates remember you?
They might remember me as inseparable from my best friend at the time, Joey Tekippe. We were born one day apart and dreamed of being inventors. We loved Legos, exploring the woods and drainage ditches, and building things. I remember drawing up plans with Joey for a giant robot in whose head we could ride and then getting stymied staring at a pile of two-by-fours in Joey’s basement. We later discovered a shared fascination with fire. When my family moved to Iowa City, saying goodbye to Joey was one of the hardest farewells of my life, but Joseph, as he now calls himself, lives in the same city I do (NYC) with his wife and their two kids, so the tearful goodbye at age 11 was not permanent.
3. Name four fictional characters with whom you’d be okay being stuck in an elevator. Why them?
Dame Edna Everage makes me laugh and thinks on her feet as few others do, and she’s taking her farewell tour now so I’d want to enjoy her company while I can.
Jane Eyre is one of the characters I most respect and she’d probably regard the stuck elevator calmly (if she understands its function), being accustomed to enduring worse.
As of now, this one may not resonate with many people in Deer Isle/Stonington except Morgan Witham, Dave Hiltz, and the Kyzer sisters, but I’d be happy to be stuck with any of the myriad characters my friend Jesse May comes up with extemporaneously. He’s a wildly inventive, hilarious actor and writer Morgan and I met in college, and hopefully he’ll make an appearance at OHA one day.
For my fourth one, I’ll just say I would NOT want to be stuck with Amelia Bedelia.
4. If you were a cartoon character, what cartoon character would you be?
Probably a hapless schmo from any number of Far Side comics, which I love for their morbid absurdity. Maybe the guy at the doorway to hell, the guy on the desert island, or the guy greeting aliens.
5. When did you first fall in love with theater?
I think I first fell in love with theatre admiring my older brother Tor and his classmates in shows at West High School in Iowa City, when I was in junior high, and feeling spellbound—the theatre teacher there, Kate Hamm, was a great teacher and director (though I never studied with her), and besides my brother, I admired a young actor named Ryan Mead, whom I saw alongside my brother in The Fantastics and The Merry Wives of Windsor. I started doing theatre shortly thereafter, playing Grumpy and the Defense Attorney in a not-often-performed play called The Trial of Goldilocks. In high school in Seattle, theatre was where I felt most at home, because I was lucky to have excellent teachers (Loren Reynolds, Barb Lachman, and Ed Call) and fellow students who welcomed me and captured my imagination.
Per will be joining Morgan Witham on the Opera House stage later this month! Come down and see them and other local community members in the “Our Own” production of Eugene O’Neill’s Anna Christie, directed by OHA Board Member Peter Richards. The staged play reading will be offered on Wednesday, April 22 and Thursday, April 23 at 7p.m.