Spark Plug: Malcolm Pepin

Spark Plug: An interview series with playwright and the artists of Spark.


Time:  1 hour before the final performance of Spark.

Setting:  Access Theater dressing room, Mr. Pepin is eating candy hearts.


ANGELA SANTILLO
How did you get into acting?

MALCOLM PEPIN
I think the first show I ever did…my mom was directing a play at my high school.  Somehow I got into doing it with a couple of my buddies.   After that, I would do musicals and plays that we put on at my school, mostly because it allowed me to cut class.  When you were in a show, you get the last period off sometimes.  I was like, “Yeah!  Great!”   And then when I was 14 or 15 I discovered standup comedy, which I didn’t know about cause in Europe there isn’t really the same format.  And then that was when I said, “Oh, I want to be onstage.”  But I really never wanted to be an actor then I went to Sarah Lawrence-actually that’s how it happened.  I didn’t want to be an actor, I wanted to do pure comedy. When I got to Sarah Lawrence, I auditioned for a bunch of the comedy things and I didn’t get into them and I thought, “I guess I’m not funny.  I guess I’ll just do serious acting instead.”  And one thing led to another.

AS
So what are you doing after Spark?  Acting wise.

MP
I’m probably going to come down really hard and really depressed for a couple days cause that’s usually what happens.

AS
Post-show mortem.

MP
It’ s like a big hangover.  I’ve been writing a lot of standup comedy.  I’ve turned into a pretty hardcore night owl for some reason, staying up writing.  I hope more plays are on the horizon somewhere.

AS
Cupid is a crazy guy.  What has been the most challenging part about playing him?

MP
I think what was challenging was…I remember when I auditioned for the part, I talked to Elizabeth afterwards and I said, “He seems kind of somewhere between Puck and Humphrey Bogart.”  Those were the two things that flashed in my mind.  He was suave and sexual but he’s also this kind of weirdo guy.  So I decided to go super weird with him, which is really kind of close to how I feel most of the time but I usually put on a pretty good façade of being very calm and composed.   I was having a hard time reading how Elizabeth was feeling about it.  I thought, “Does she like it?  Is she not into?”

AS
Any tips on how to rock a gold sequenced skirt?  (Note: Cupid wears a gold sequenced skirt in the show.)

MP
I would say just do it, to steal Nike’s advice.  I didn’t really worry about it too much.   I was like, “Yeah, he’s wearing a skirt.”  I’ve seen weirder stuff before but my concern was that him wearing a skirt and having makeup and the way I was making him move was going to come off as very feminine and maybe leaning towards gay versus straight.  I didn’t want that to happen because it’s not about him being straight versus gay, I didn’t want him to be specifically anything.  He just makes people fall in love so he is all of it, it doesn’t matter.

AS
So this is the last question.

MP
Sure.

AS
You have to finish this sentence: Spark is…

MP
A play?  No.  Okay.  Hold on…
Spark is…the most beautiful thing you can experience in your life.
You know, when I was really young, my father told me something that now that I think about it, I don’t know why he said this to me when I was so young.  But he said, “You know son, we all die alone.  No matter what, even if someone is holding your hand.  But as many people as you can have in your life-friends, family, love-is worth more than everything else in the world.”  I think that’s why a lot of what happens in the play hits home with me because it’s so important for me to have friends and acquaintances.
That would be it.
Spark is the most beautiful thing you can experience your life.

(Playwright’s Note:  Thank you to the creative team, cast, crew, friends, family, colleagues, and audiences for making Spark happen.  Till the next one…)

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