Nancy Guppy Interviews Stage Director John Langs

Nancy Guppy talks shop with stage director John Langs
Nancy Guppy and John Langs are not drinking coffee

Acclaimed director John Langs has a long history of working in the Seattle theater world, and in 2012, he moved here permanently to become ACT Theatre’s associate artistic director. This month, he directs one of Seattle’s most beloved and madcap theater traditions, 14/48: The World’s Quickest Theater Festival (1/10–1/18; acttheatre.org).
LOCATION: Langs’ office at ACT Theatre downtown
LANGS’ DRINK: Bulleit rye *No actual coffee consumed

Nancy Guppy: If you could choose an alternative career, what would it be?
John Langs: My childhood dream was to direct the opening ceremony of the Olympics.

NG: What makes for a good director?  
JL: You have to be a good listener. Also, not being afraid to not be everybody’s friend. If you want everybody to like you, you’re kind of doomed.

NG: Are you a control freak?
JL: I’m a prepare freak. Prepare, prepare and then improv. I hardly ever look at the script when I’m in rehearsal because if I’m still doing that, I haven’t internalized the story enough.

NG: What happens when you’ve cast someone who isn’t working out?
JL: Fire them. And I don’t say that lightly. If they aren’t working out, then it doesn’t serve them or the piece to keep them in the role.   

NG: You’ve lived here since 2012. Describe Seattle in one word.  
JL: Cozy. I walk to work. I read in coffee shops. People wear good sweaters.  

NG: Favorite Seattle moment?
JL: My first Sounders game. Walking into the stadium—it took my breath away.  

NG: What makes you say yes to taking on a new play?
JL: I’ll always take something if it scares me. I will always take something if I don’t know how to do it.

NG: How do you usually feel on opening night of a play you’ve directed?  
JL: Drunk.

NG: If you could change one thing in your life, what would it be?
JL: Making real room for a lasting relationship. To be somebody who’s ready and worthy of a huge love.

Nancy Guppy showcases Seattle artists on her show, Art Zone (seattlechannel.org/artzone).

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