Mike Rudden is currently playing the role of Vince in “Tape” at Dominion Stage.
Mike Rudden is a community theatre performer located in the Northern Virginia area. Recent performances include “Bachelorette” (Dominion Stage, 2016 WATCH nomination), “Amadeus” (Providence Players of Fairfax, 2017 WATCH nomination), “Assassins” (Dominion Stage), and Roko’s “Basilisk” (Reliant Theatre, 2018 Capital Fringe). During the daylight hours, he teaches high school mathematics for Fairfax County. He recently purchased a home with his new wife, Stephanie Chu Rudden, who is also a local actor and designer.
“Tape” is playing September 21 through October 6, 2018 by Dominion Stage at Gunston Theatre Two in Arlington, VA. For more information, click here.
What is “Tape” about?
“Tape” is a play written 1999 by Stephen Belber, one of the creators of “The Laramie Project.” It features two friends getting together 10 years after graduation. One friend is an up-and-coming filmmaker (Jon) and the other is more of a burnout (Vince). As they joke around, you find out that they dated the same girl in high school (Amy), and Vince has unresolved feelings about how it went down, and accuses Jon of taking advantage of her. Eventually he gets a taped confession from Jon (hence the title) revealing an assault, and threatens to give the tape to Amy.
It’s a tight little black comedy/drama–three characters, one set, about 70 minutes. In addition to being a great character study for all three roles and having some nice comedic dialogue, it explores themes of memory, guilt, consent, honesty, friendship, obligation, and how one action can reverberate and affect different lives many years later. Dominion picked the play because it felt relevant given the recent “Me Too” movement.
Without giving too much away, talk about one or more challenges your character, Vince faces during the course of the play.
Vince is the instigator of the action, entrapping Jon into a confession, and later inviting Amy into the situation to push Jon’s hand. He’s very manipulative and knows how to push people’s buttons. Vince claims he’s doing it for altruistic reasons, but later we find out he has a lot of emotional baggage that he’s working through. Setting up this event is way to distract himself from his troubles, or overcompensate for his shortcomings, or pass the blame, or make the other characters feel what he’s feeling. He’s a confused guy, but also aggressive and angry. It’s a dangerous combination.
What is it like getting to act on stage with Brianna Goode as Amy and Joe Waeyaert as Jon?
I’ve had the privilege to work with Bri before in the play “Bachelorette” a few years ago, which is similar in tone and subject matte. She’s a real pro. She’s an actor you can rely on and trust on stage, which is important for these tight dramas. Even though Bri is the nicest person in the world, she’s great at playing characters with a biting edge and sharp sense of humor.
Joe I just met working on “Tape,” as he’s primarily a musical theatre actor located in Frederick, MD. Working with him, I never would have guessed he’s more comfortable singing than he is a straight play. He’s a natural in this role, giving a very understated, swarmy delivery. The danger in these plays is to make the emotions too big, and Joe always knows exactly what level to play on.
What is your favorite line that you get to say in the play and why?
Vince probably gets the most laughs in the show because he’s so honest and blunt, so there’s a lot to pick from. I’ll choose “I like it like I like a shot of whiskey first thing in the morning. It’s good for about 10 minutes, then I want my coffee” because it’s funny and I can barely say it–“I like it like I like” is hard to get out.
When not performing on stage, what are some of your hobbies or interests?
Teaching high school math takes up most of my time during the school year. I enjoy most of the normal young suburbanite activities–breweries, music, Netflix, Green Bay Packers football, jogging, hanging out with my cat. My wife and I just bought a house in Lorton, so we try to find time to work on that. Honestly, every time I’m in a show, I tell myself it’s going to my last one, so I can have more time to relax and enjoy the day. But inevitably something pops up, and I think, “That role could be really challenging.” And I’m back in.