Manny Schenk last appeared with the 2nd Act Players in Moving Boxes, a play about caring for an aging parent while trying to rebuild a broken family. Manny also has a long association with the James Downing Theater in the Edison Park section of Chicago.
Here, he discusses the challenges of acting online, the choices he had to make for his role in What Good Did We See Today, and his vision for theater post-Covid
What is the biggest challenge for you of transitioning from acting on a stage to acting online?
The inability to move and interact physically with the other actor. You have to try and stay within your little box. This proved difficult for me at times.
How do you approach the challenge of portraying a character with dementia?
The challenge is to determine the degree of dementia. I had to make choices as to which times he was aware and which times he wasn’t. The writer seems to leave the choice, for the most part, to the actor.
What has been the biggest challenge the pandemic has presented you and how have you coped with it?
The biggest challenge, for me, has been dealing with the fear of the virus. We are still not going to the grocery store or any place that has a lot of people. However, I am going to medical appointments and getting a haircut. I will feel better when I get the second dose of the vaccine in two weeks. Fortunately, I can go to work.
What do you think theater will look like in the post-pandemic world?
I think that it will take quite a while for people, especially older people, to feel comfortable going into a theater again. However, over time this should change as people get the vaccine and we see if it works in the long term. I believe that some theaters will provide a virtual option for their subscribers as well as in-house seating.