An Interview with Tyrone Thornhill 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 Tyrone Thornhill, who plays Saul Kimmer, and his thoughts on the show.
Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I’ve lived in Jacksonville since I was 13, my family moved here for a new start. I was mostly shy throughout high school until I did a few shows and chose drama as an elective. It was my first introduction into the world of performance. Although I loved it, I didn’t pursue it in any way after school. I worked several jobs and gained experience until landing a position at BB&T, which is where I’ve worked for 12 years now. Roughly 3 years ago I auditioned and won a spot on the Jax Idol singing competition where my love for performance was rekindled. I got back into acting and performing of all types but seriously started pursuing my long time love, stand up comedy. Being a comedian has been amazing and I’ve helped to start a successful weekly comedy show in Downtown Jax called Laugh Lounge. As an actor, I’ve performed in shows like Evil Dead: the Musical and The Odd Couple: Female Edition at 5 & Dime as well as MLK Blvd and Noises Off! at Phase Eight.
Why were you attracted to auditioning for this production? What does it mean to YOU as an artist?
The first thing that attracted me to this show was an opportunity to work with Brian Niece after we performed together in The Odd Couple: Female Edition. Brian is meticulous, talented, and passionate as an actor, and I knew that he’d challenge me as a director. This show is also a challenge as an artist. Most of my performance experience is rooted in comedy, so getting laughs is the main goal. Through this character I’ll have a different goal in mind.
Can you tell us a little about the character you're playing?
Saul Kimmer is a producer without a lot of scruples. He’s an “ends justify the means,” kind of person who uses charm and intelligence to push people to the conclusion he wants. Unfortunately for those around Saul, the people involved in his life are often tools who will either be useful or not when he’s trying accomplish his goals and he has no qualms when it comes to tossing aside a tool that isn’t useful.
Why is it important to tell this story?
True West is a story that will always be important because it deals with a lot of what we deal with in life. Insecurity, expectations, doubt, love, hate, triumph, etc… Sam Shepard wrote a very human story that will not be made irrelevant by time.
What is community theatre to you?
Community theatre is like an artistic train station where you’ll see may people, all with different destinations at the end of their journey. No matter where they’re going, they’re all united by a love for the theater and for acting. Jacksonville has embraced theater and allowed many companies to grow and give us so many opportunities to watch shows we’d otherwise have no access to. There are also a lot of truly talented people pouring a lot of their time and energy into creating productions of which they and the city can be proud. To me personally, it’s a place that opened my eyes to the fact that, no matter what I do in my life, it will involve a stage and an audience.
How has your experience working at PBTS been so far?
It’s been a great experience working at Players. When you look around at all the hard work going into the productions, you wouldn’t think that people are volunteers. There’s a real pride in the work that’s being produced and there’s a lot of sacrifice to make sure that people like what they see on stage. It’s plainly evident that the attitude isn’t just one or two people but that it is part of the foundation of Players by the Sea.
What do you hope audiences leave thinking or feeling after the show is over?
I hope audiences leave surprised. Everyone has expectations when they walk in the door and I hope every audience member has those expectations exceeded. I hope the audience is affected by the show. This show is about the gritty and unflattering parts of relationships. Maybe it’ll make some people from the audience think about places where they could have been a better sibling, parent, son/daughter, friend, colleague, etc…I hope the audience genuinely enjoys the show.
Any other words you'd like to share?
I’m proud to be a part of the group that’s creating this little world where we get to play with these characters. I know I will have grown as an actor and performer and I look around me with admiration for the people with whom I’m taking this journey.
See Tyrone Thornhill 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.