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An Interview with Josh Andrews on True West

Players by the Sea in Jacksonville Beach, FL is gearing up for True West, a searing drama by the late playwright Sam Shepard. We sat down with members of the cast. Here's actor Josh Andrews, who plays Austin, and his thoughts on the show.

Please tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Josh Andrews and I’m playing Austin! I grew up here in Jacksonville and got my first degree at FSCJ. Wasting no time, I transferred to the University of Florida where I studied Musical Theatre for two years. Last fall, I transferred back home to Jacksonville University where I’ll be completing my Bachelors degree this April. I live here with my family and work as a freelance portrait photographer.

Why were you attracted to auditioning for this production? What does it mean to YOU as an artist?

Believe it or not, I almost didn’t audition for this show! I was thinking, “It’s my last semester and I just kind of want to take things easy.” That was dumb. With a little nudge in the right direction, I started preparing my rep. I was already familiar with the play as it’s one of my favorites by Sam Shepard, so that helped! Beyond all of that, I was drawn to the opportunity of working on such a small-cast show. It’s not often that you share the stage with just three other actors!

Can you tell us a little about the character you're playing?

Austin is a very sensitive guy. Growing up the younger of two brothers, he’s developed some serious insecurities that I feel have molded him into the writer he is today. A people-pleaser, Austin maintains a certain selfishness about him. He’s eager, but prideful. Inviting, but distant. Constantly in contempt of himself, he’s what Mr. Niece refers to as “comfortably uncomfortable”. In my opinion, Austin’s overarching goal is to be loved and appreciated. Saul only tells him what he wants to hear. His mother respects him, but withholds her affection. He craves the approval of his father, but never gets it. And his brother, Lee, well - that’s a different story altogether!

Why is it important to tell this story?

True West is a classic. This play epitomizes the American family in an equally realistic and unrealistic manner. It tells the stories of a struggling artist, a jagged ne'er-do-well, a slippery Hollywood producer, a witless mother, and an absentee father. Moreover, it’s a tense family drama bustling with distinct physicality and comedic flare. I think this show serves as an important reminder that, no matter how deplorable our circumstances, it could always be far worse.

What is community theatre to you?

Community theatre is a professional grade theatre experience presented at the local level. It’s intimate and explorative. Community theatre often addresses social issues happening in our own nation and abroad. It’s personal and often thematic. The true beauty of community theatre is that it is precisely what we, the community, makes it to be!

How has your experience working at PBTS been so far?

This is my first show with PBTS, and I have had an absolute blast! The staff is inviting, the space is excellent, and the production team is amazing. I would love to come back in the future!

What do you hope audiences leave thinking or feeling after the show is over?

There are so many nuggets of wisdom and truth in between Austin and Lee’s moments of conflict and strife. I hope audiences leave this show laughing, but thinking. Our relationships with our families are so valuable - let us not take them for granted!

Any other words you'd like to share?

Thank you so much for your continued support of local artists. Without an audience, theatre would not exist in any capacity - it’s your enthusiasm that’s paramount to what we do. Enjoy the show!

See Josh Andrews in True West here at Players by the Sea from March 15 - March 31. Tickets are available at playersbythesea.org or by calling 904.249.0289.

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Players by the Sea Theatre

106 6th Street North • Jacksonville Beach, FL 32250

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