Chris Genebach is currently playing the role of Agrippa in Folger Theatre’s production of “Antony and Cleopatra,” now playing through November 19, 2017.
This past summer I had the pleasure of seeing Chris Genebach in Olney Theatre Center’s production of “My Fair Lady.” He was by far the most rugged dustman by the name of Alfred P. Doolittle I’ve seen on stage; strict with his daughter and felt entitled to a portion of anything that was hers.
He has previously performed at Folger Theatre in “Twelfth Night,” “Henry V,” “Othello,” “Cyrano, and “Orestes: A Tragic Romp.” Chris Genebach has made numerous appearances on the DC/Baltimore stage including Mosaic Theatre Company, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Studio Theatre, and Everyman Theatre.
Off-Broadway: The Duke: “Rose Rage: Henry VI, Parts 1, 2 and 3,” MTC: “The Other Side.” Broadway: Manhattan Theatre Club: “Shining City.. ”
For more information about Folger Theatre’s production of “Antony and Cleopatra,” click here.
Please tell us a little bit about your character, Agrippa.
Ha – it’s so hard to say just a little! Well, in Shakespeare’s play he is basically Octavian’s right-hand man who serves as a consul, general, and sounding board for him. This was generally true historically as well, but adding that Agrippa was also an architect and a master politician. Shakespeare certainly seems to promote the latter idea as well in his play given that Agrippa cleverly introduces the idea of Antony marrying Octavia (Octavian’s sister) in order to bring about a truce and stronger bond between the two conflicting parties. It’s up to the audience to decide whether or not Octavian had this idea prior and plotted it’s proposal with Agrippa to ensnare Antony and bind him to Rome or his ultimate doom; a win win for Octavian. Above all, Agrippa is a loyal soldier, friend, and Roman who wants what is best for the state of Rome…which is usually whatever Octavian wants honestly.
What’s the biggest challenge about taking on this role?
I suppose the cut maybe. It’s a wonderfully succinct and specific cut of this script, which narrows the focus wholly to Antony and Cleopatra’s love and following disruption of their love through their various selfish, insecure, and sometimes uninformed decisions. Agrippa, in this cut, has been given a few messenger lines to promote the plot points that are necessary for the story and audience comprehension, while losing a few original lines that are less important to the direct story we are trying to tell. That can make a character arc a little difficult to navigate, but it’s been an incredible blast to figure out.
What’s the last thing you do before you step out onto the stage?
Probably spit out a lozenge into a trash can. Yeah, that’s the last thing I do maybe 7 out of 8 times a week. I don’t think I am alone on that, but who knows. They certainly help ease stress on your vocal cords before you enter into the play (psychosomatically or not), and I always have one right before the play begins. That’s surely a disappointing answer! Maybe it would be better if I mentioned that just prior to and during my lozenge practices I am pacing and furiously thinking about the first few moments of the play while making odd vocal noises to warm up my voice.
Who is your role model from within the acting industry, and why?
Ah, well… this is a nigh on impossible question to answer with certainty, I think. I say that because my role model actor/actress has changed more times than it’s worth mentioning. Mark Rylance and Cate Blanchett come to mind. My mom is a huge role model, given I grew up watching her perform. She was and is brilliant. I spent many nights in a green room with a sleeping bag, an orange juice, and sometimes a little black and white television that we could tote along with us to her rehearsal or show. As far as after my career began, I can say that I have been lucky to have worked with Stacy Keach a few times over the years and that he is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, one of the most exceptional artists I’ve ever seen on stage or film. If I could own and enact a modicum of the truth, freedom, and creativity he brings to his work, I’d feel immense pride.
If you had a magic wand, what show would you do next?
As far as a show is concerned… I suppose I would love to do “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” or “The Lion in Winter.” If I really had this amazing magic wand though, it wouldn’t be a play to be honest! I’d unequivocally want to be in “Episode Nine” of “Star Wars,” or any stand alone movie of that universe thereof. I know I am not alone in that wish.