Broadway.com #LiveatFive with Sullivan Jones of SLAVE PLAY
(upbeat music) – Hello everybody! Welcome to Broadway.com’s Live at Five. It is Friday. I’m wanna say it again. It’s Friday, October 25th. I’m Beth Stevens. – I’m Andy Lefkowitz. – And we’re here in the
studio with Caitlin Moynihan. – Hello! – And we have a fantastic guest today. – Yes guys, we have Sullivan Jones here from “Slave Play” on Broadway. (hosts cheer)
– Look at this! Lots of excitement. – Yes! – We will get to Sullivan very shortly, but first our Top Five. (upbeat music) – This Oscar nominee
is headed to the stage across the pond. – [Andy] This was kind of unexpected news we got this morning. Jessica Chastain is going to
be her West End stage debut in a revival of Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House”. This production will
feature a new adaptation by Frank McGuinness and
directed by Jamie Lloyd, who’s directing “Betrayal”
on Broadway right now. This will open at the
Playhouse Theater in London on June 18, after beginning
previews on June 10, 2020. This is pretty exciting. We saw Jessica Chastain on
Broadway a few years ago in a revival of “The Heiress”. – She loves a period costume. – Yes, she sure does! And of course she’s an Oscar
nominee for “Zero Dark Thirty” and “The Help”. A fantastic actress. This is super exciting. – And we’re giving you
guys a jagged little thrill for eight weeks. Oh, I missed up at the end. – Forget it, we are now–
– It’s still a thrill though. – [Beth] This Live at Five is over. – Now, we have a new
vlogger starting next week. Kathryn Gallagher from
“Jagged Little Pill” will be our Broadway.com
vlogger for eight weeks. That’s right, not eight times a week. – Eight times a week.
– Eight times a week she’s in “Jagged Little Pill”
at the Broadhurst Theater. And so we welcome Kathyrn. I’m very excited, and
yes, she and Derek Klena have a lot to tell us. – Yes, and we got some inside scoop about the upcoming “Cats” movie. And I really can’t believe it. Did you see her hands?
– I can’t believe it either. Oh my gosh, guys! So just in case you’re not excited enough about the “Cats” film,
we found out today that Taylor Swift and Andrew
Lloyd Webber collaborated on a new song for the film. So this song is going to be called, well, it’s written already, it’s called “Beautiful Ghosts”. And it’s going to be sung
by Francesca Hayward, who plays the role of Victoria. Now–
– The white cat. – I know right! – Yeah, this Oscar bait. – Totally guys.
– That’s what this is all about. – And Taylor Swift is
also going to be the song in the studio recording, of course. – There you go.
– So you can watch a little video feature that
features some of the song on our site and be sure
to see the film in cinemas on December 20th. – And “Freestyle Love Supreme” is changing up their schedule
for everybody visiting during the holiday season. – [Beth] They are so kind to us, the people of “Freestyle Love Supreme”. They are changing it up. They are adding four seven
o’clock Wednesday performances on November 13, November 20,
December 4, and December 18. This replaces the 10
p.m. shows on Mondays. That’s great because 10 p.m. shows, wow, that’s a lot.
– On a Monday? – That’s late.
– People have other things to do on Tuesdays.
– Can’t do it. – Yes.
So thank you, “Freestyle Love Supreme”
at the Booth Theater. – And this just opened play Off-Broadway has received it’s third extension. – [Andy] Yes, so the new
revival of “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When
the Rainbow Is Enuf”– – Which I saw, and is fabulous. Go see it.
– Look at that. Go see it.
– Now you have more time. – You have until December 8. Check out this production. It opened on October 22,
began previews on October 8. This is a groundbreaking work. It features choreography by
Tony nominee Camille A. Brown. – Camille A. Brown who is totally bursting onto the scene.
– Of course, yes. – Amazing!
– Ntozake Shange’s groundbreaking work from the seventies. And it’s just, it’s one
of those shows where you just end up sobbing by the end. Or maybe it was just me. I don’t know. (Caitlin laughs)
– There you go. Check it out at The Public. – Also– Oh, Caitlin are you excited?
– I’m very excited! – On the site, we have some treats for you because Halloween is coming and we’re not gonna trick you. We’re just gonna treat you
with the Sanderson sisters’ Witch Medley featuring
Jay Armstrong Johnson. – That’s amazing.
– Who’s currently in… “Scotland, PA”. So there you go. We have “Fresh Face” coming your way. We’ve got a new “Mean
Girls” vlog on the road. Lots of stuff, check it out. And of course we’ll have
some more treats next week as Halloween approaches
because it’s basically like a Broadway holiday.
– Yeah, totally. – Pretty much, although all
the Broadway people are like, “We dress up every day.” I know. Andy, thank you.
– You bet it! You too.
– Have a great weekend. Caitlin, please tell us about our guest. – Gladly, yes you’ve
got Mr. Sullivan Jones here with us today in the studio. He’s currently in Broadway’s “Slave Play”. This does mark his Broadway debut. He was in an Off-Broadway at
the New York Theater Workshop. He’s done a ton of stuff and
he has a lot of stage credit. A lot of different workshops
and theaters and regional work. He was series regular in
Hulu’s limited series, “The Looming Tower”. He made appearances in “Blue
Bloods”, “Parks and Rec”, “The Blacklist”, I have it all. “The Good Fight”, “House
of Cards”, “NCIS”. This guy’s been everywhere, goodness! Follow him on social
media @_sullivanjones_. Don’t forget the second
underscore, very important. Leave all of your questions
in the comments below and everyone please welcome,
Mr. Sullivan and Ms. Beth. – [Beth] Thank you Caitlin. I feel like I should call you, Sullivan, “The Looming Sullivan Jones” because you are a tall individual. – True.
– And I’m a very vertically challenged individual. – It’s okay. We all have our–
– So welcome. – Thank you so much.
– We all have our thing. – We all have our thing. – And that is a great
introduction to “Slave Play”. We all have our thing. – Yeah, yeah.
– Yeah. – Yeah, it’s a thing.
– Yeah, I mean, we’re not going to spoil everything. – [Caitlin] No. – But we’re gonna talk about this. You’ve been with this show for a while. – Yes, since it was at
New York Theatre Workshop. – Tell me what your
reaction was when you first read this script by Jeremy O. Harris. – Shock, confusion, and I
used the word beguiled a lot. I was like, “What is happening?” – That’s how the audience sort of feels. – Yeah, you read it and
you’re sort of like, you think one thing is going on, and then you realize maybe
something else is going on. But also, simultaneously
the thing you first thought is going on is going on in a way. So it’s confusing.
– But you can follow it. – Yeah.
– It’s not, I mean, plot wise there’s some turns.
– It’s not plot confusing. Yeah.
– But emotionally, it takes you on a ride.
– Right, in a way that keeps you, I talk
about Jeremy’s writing, it keeps you off balance in a way that I think is really engaging. Like, ultimately makes
you lean forward and go, “I wanna figure out what’s happening.” – Did it feel risky to– – Mysterious is a better word.
– Oh mysterious. I like that.
– Sorry. Mysterious versus confusing. You don’t want to be confusing, you wanna be a little mysterious. And it’s like mysterious. – It’s like leading you
somewhere you’re not sure where you’re gonna go. – Exactly. But you’re like, “I’m down! “Where are we? “Let’s keep doing this.” Something like that. – Tell me what me you
want to be a part of it? Was it something that
you had to think about or did you just jump in? – I think, New York Theater Workshop, reputable place.
– Absolutely. – Robert O’Hara, great director. – [Beth] Wonderful director. – Jeremy, incredible playwright. Everyone was like, “You gotta see “this guy is like the new thing. “And he’s coming out of Yale. “And you gotta–” – [Beth] There’s so
much buzz around Jeremy. – Yeah, yeah. – I don’t think the man could
walk through Times Square. – He’s a buzzy individual. He’s also 6’5 and has
beautiful natural hair. Sometimes, it’s not natural hair. He braids it and does
things funky with it. The point is, he stands out wherever, like literally stands out, wherever he is. – And he’s becoming a fashion icon. So there’s that. – Yeah, and he’s a fashionista. Yeah, for sure. And he’s a great guy. He was wonderful in the room. He was really fun to have in the room. And was like incredibly supportive. This is my Jeremy O. Harris impression in the rehearsal studio. Wait let me (clears throat). There’s a lot of that. (group laughs) – He’s just having a good time. – He leans forward… – And he smiles.
– And he’s like nodding his head. – He’s engaged. – He’s engaged in a deep way, yeah. – All right, let’s talk about you. – Okay. – When did you know you
wanted to be a performer? Take me back to California
and your upbringing. – Yeah, so I’m from the Bay area. I was sort of steered toward
sports most of my life. And high school time,
I began reconsidering what I wanted to do and
how I wanted to do it. And I started dipping my
toes into acting classes. And I caught the bug and went to college to play basketball and major in theater. I went to Brown. And when I got there, I
was sort of immediately struck with the sense
that I wasn’t going to be, didn’t want to be a professional athlete, but thought I was willing
to do whatever it took to be a professional actor. And so I kinda slowly made the shift and dove in the deep end and have been on that path ever since. – So what made you catch the bug? Were there early roles, school plays? – My family, my dad side
is, there’s kind of like a vaudevillian like, chitlin’
circuit, variety show, sensibility about my family. We’re always doing talent
shows and variety shows. – Family talent shows? – Yeah.
– Wow. – Like at family reunions,
everyone has to go around and do something. – What were your things
that you would do– _ I would impersonate Steve Urkel. That was big.
– Okay. – Pull my pants up and, “Did I do that?” You know. And sing. I’d sing Al Green songs
and I’d make jokes. I’d do “Men in Black” impersonations, like Will Smith, “Men in
Black” impersonations. – This is quite a range. Steve Urkel, Will Smith.
– Yeah, you know, I’m kinda rangy. – Yeah, you’re rangy. – Yeah, yeah, yeah. Al Green, too. Al Green’s in the mix.
– Al Green, yeah, of course. – So I grew up not being afraid
of being in front of people in a formal setting and
trying to be interesting. And so once that became
formalized in classes, in school, I was like “I think I can. “This can be a thing.” – And so it is. So it is. This is a provocative play. – Tis. – I don’t even know how
to talk about this play because it brings up so much, depending on what you’re bringing to it as an audience member.
– Absolutely. – So tell me about some of the reactions you’ve received from audiences and how that’s affected you. – I mean, I think per what you said, a lot of people are coming
from a different play, from a variety of places. And for some people it’s… They’re sort of not aware of
what angle to enter it in, and how to approach it, and what it means for their lives. Because maybe they haven’t had the variety of relationships
that the play offers. And for other people, it feels like its completely transformational. Like they come out of it going, “I’m gonna maybe try and
be a different person “because what I saw on stage.” Which is, I think the best
compliment you can give a piece of theater, or any
piece of art for that matter. Just walking away and going like, “I need to do something
differently in my life.” – How do you describe this play to people who haven’t seen it? – I keep it very vague. But lemme try and do– – The word of the day is mysterious. – Yeah mysterious. Not confusing, mysterious. It’s about four interracial couples who are negotiating some of
their relationship conflicts via a really interesting form of therapy. – Oh okay. I’m sure that clears it up for all of you. – And it’s also about (laughs)… It’s also a satire. It’s satirical. So like genre wise and tone wise that’s sort’ve what you’re getting into. It’s aware of itself and
it’s commenting on itself in a way that’s fun and funny, right? It’s kind of funny.
– Oh absolutely. – Did you find yourself
laughing throughout it? – Absolutely.
– In places that you were like– – In places I didn’t didn’t
know I was gonna be laughing. – Yeah.
– It’s real funny. – ’cause a lot of things that come up, people don’t feel comfortable
laughing in certain… They don’t know if they should be laughing or if they–
– I was with a very vocal audience; we were all laughing. – Okay, so you were one of those. – Yeah, I was in that audience. – This is hilarious!
– Not all hilarious. – Don’t feel bad at all.
– It was emotional too. – Yeah, yeah, right.
– I think it’s everything. I had the full range of
emotions watching this play. And you get to do so many
different things in this play. You get to be a lot of, I don’t know, call on a lot of yourself.
– Yeah, yeah. – Including playing an instrument. – That’s right. – Tell me about playing the violin. – Very difficult instrument. – Did you play the violin before? – No, I played guitar. – Not the same thing. – Not the same thing, but string family. Same species.
– Sure, sure, sure. – Same genus, right? Left hand is easy to do
because that’s what you do with the guitar. The right hand, the bow, people, if you’ve ever tried to
use a bow on a string, you know how difficult this is. It’s really hard to do ’cause it’s about the
angle and the pressure and the rotation. It’s very difficult. So I have a newfound
appreciation for violinists, cellists, violists, whatever. – All of them.
– Any time you’re using a bow, just exquisite precision. – In what ways, besides
the musical aspect, do you relate to your character? – Well, Philip is biracial. I’m biracial; my mom
is white, dad is black. And there’s a lot od
question about identity kind of growing. Like what camp, what tribe am I a part of. Am I a part of any tribes that I’m seeing other people a part of. Or am I kind of a separate tribe because I’m both of those things. And there’s a collision I think in terms of how anyone identifies, be it gender, race, ethnicity, color, between how you see yourself
and conceive of yourself vis-a-vis how the world
sees you or the external, the people around you are saying, “No actually, I see you as this.” And so that’s sort of the
crux of what Phillip is and most of the characters
in the play are dealing with. Like, how do I conceive of myself versus how the world
at large thinks of me. – Absolutely.
– And it changes– – That’s part of the comedy actually. – Right.
– That disconnect. – The divide, the asymmetry. Someone going, “No, this is who I am.” And people being like, “Actually, no.” – Not so much.
– Yeah, not so much. So, yeah, and it’s fun
to bear that out on stage because one of the things
the play does so well is a lot of the topics
it brings up are taboo. It’s like things you wouldn’t talk about in public.
– Right. – Relationship stuff, sexual stuff, race. And so it bears that out out loud and I think that’s a kind of emancipatory for people who are watching. They go, “If these
people can talk about it, “maybe I can talk about it. “I can address it.” – Okay, speaking up bearing it out. – Yup!
– That’s my segue. – Nice.
– Thank you. You have some very out there sex scenes. Tell me about working with
an Intimacy Coordinator, is that what they’re called? – I think that’s–
– Intimacy Director? Director. And also just getting
over that, doing this, this is your Broadway debut.
– Correct. – And there you go. – Yeah.
– It’s a lot. – Yeah, it is a lot. Claire is extraordinary. – Claire Warden?
– Claire Warden. – Whose been an Intimacy Director for several productions on Broadway. And that’s kind of a new thing. – Yeah, yeah.
– That’s something that’s just started in this last season. – And she sort of at the
vanguard of that movement. She’s great and she worked really well with Robert and Jeremy and just kind of having a collective sense of what they wanted to do in the room. And inviting us to be a part of that. It was pretty simple. It was like, here are the lines. Here are the words. Here’s the stage directions. How do we have a legible
clear storytelling, coupled with what you
feel comfortable doing? – So she’s creating a
safe space for the actors. – Absolutely, and she’s really
making it actor oriented and working off of your
instincts and impulses. – Were you nervous about it? – Oh 100%, yeah. – And you’re so cool, so I have to ask if you were nervous. – Oh yeah.
– ’cause you seem like nothing would make you nervous. – Yeah, that’s all B.S. That’s just–
– Acting. Acting.
– That’s just a facade. Yeah, yeah, that’s a facade. Yeah, I mean, the stage
directions are explicit when you read the play. And I was like, “I’m
gonna have to do that? “Like all of that? “I can do maybe some of it, but all of it? “Okay, cool.” Yeah, so getting in there
and just sort of really kind of going like, “Okay, we’re gonna try this. “We’re gonna do this. “That works.” And then after a certain number of reps, you get to a point where you go, it almost becomes second hand. – It’s like choreography. – Yeah, I don’t really
think about it as much as I did in the first
few days of rehearsal. So yeah.
– I understand. – I kind of feel like
we’re talking around this, but there’s some, you know.
– We are. You can say anything. – [Caitlin] You can say anything you want. – I can say anything I want? Okay, I am… There are sexual acts happening
on stage that I’m a part of. And clothes may or may not
be on during those acts. So you really wanna–
– May not be on. – May not be on, underscore italicized. So get your tickets to “Slave Play” at the Golden Theater on 45th Street. – Weirdly, even though
that’s a part of the play, that’s not the number one selling point. I don’t know why ’cause it
feels like it should be. And they’re advertising it all wrong. – Totally. And I have to say everyone in the play, this cast is fierce. – Yes. – Like top to bottom is fierce. And I have to say behind
the scenes like so cool. There’s no bad apples.
– And you must be a tight company. – Very cool. It’s very professionally amicable. – Respectful. – There’s some sense of we’re
friends and we’re buddies, but also people kinda do their own thing and have their own thing going on. But the cast is just fierce. And everyone has to be
incredibly vulnerable and revealing on stage. It’s not just me. – Right, physically and emotionally. – And oftentimes more so than I do. I’m like maybe in the
middle of that range. Like somewhere in the middle. But people go pretty far. – They sure do. Going far is the absolute
buzzword for our “Slave Play”. – Yeah. – It goes farther than
you thinks it’s gonna go. – Yup. – I know you all have
questions for Sullivan. – It’s true!
– So Caitlin, what are our viewers asking? – Yeah, so Sebastian wants to know, did you expect “Slave Play”
to kinda turn into all of this when you first joined it and the New York Theater Workshop. – Sebastian, great question. No, and not because of the
material and the personnel, but because I’ve been
involved in some great shows. Should I look at the camera? – [Beth] You can look anywhere you want. – I’ve been in, Sebastian,
are you listening? I’ve been in some really great shows that there’s politics, and
what theaters are available, and there’s, “Can it sell tickets?” and all those kinds of questions. And “Slave Play” was a risk. It’s a straight play, there’s no stars. There are stars in the play, but there’s no celebrity name people. – Right.
– And so it’s a risk. And so I thought, “Maybe not.” – [Beth] And it’s fraught material. – It’s fraught material.
– And it’s adult material. – Yeah, and it’s R-Rated, essentially. If it was a movie, it would be R-Rated. – Or maybe X, I don’t know. No, I’m not saying that. I’m just kidding. More like NC-17. – NC-17 is good. That’s more like it.
– There it is. There it is. – But alas, it’s on Broadway
because people have taken that risk and have been
thus far rewarded for it. – Love that. So Quincy wants to know, do you have any specific
dream Broadway roles? – Yes, tell us about it.
– Or characters that you would like to dive into? – [Beth] No, you’re not a singer. – I’m not a singer, so… – I read about that. – Yeah.
– I read about that Rocky Horror audition. – Oh! – [Beth] Yeah, tell us. – Maybe I’ll just tell
that story, ’cause that’s– – [Beth] No, no, tell us
a story we don’t know. – Oh, you know that? – [Beth] But what are
your Broadway dream roles? – God, I’m not that
type of person, Quincy. I’m sorry, I wish I could
give you a better answer. I would love to play Malcolm X one day because I’ve been told
that there’s a likeness. – I can see that.
– And I’m tall, he was tall. And I just feel like there’s
a kind of intellectual heft. But also, I just find his
life really fascinating. And I feel like I could do him justice. So the “Malcolm X” musical
that’s opening next Spring. – Malcolm X, exclamation point. – Actually, I could go in theater. Malcolm X, yeah, exclamation point. – That’s gonna be as
likely as when “Slave Play” becomes a musical. “Slave Play” exclamation,
that’s not happening. – Exclamation point!
– Right, right, right, right. I would not be a good producer. But I can pitch ideas all day. So Malcolm X musical, let’s do it. – Done, done.
– Amazing. – I think we have time
for one more question. – Yeah, let’s do one more question. And Bren (mumbles) know what has been the most surprising, joyous thing that has come out of “Slave Play” for you? – Oh boy. Yeah, seeing people’s… There’s this Kafka quote that
I think about all the time. He says, “A book should be the acts “for the frozen sea within us.” That you come to an experience,
an artistic experience, with habituated with a sense of like, “This is how I see the
world and live life.” And the artistic experience makes you go, “Actually, rethink this.” And it melts that frozenness in you, or it takes an ax to it. And “Slave Play” is an ax to, I think, a lot people’s frozenness. And so they walk out going,
like I said earlier about kinda potentially being transformed, I’m gonna see things differently and look at people differently, and treat people maybe differently. And seeing people’s reactions and hearing that from
people has been by far the most joyful and joyous
thing about it, I think. – [Beth] And it’s transformed you as well? – Yeah, yeah, yeah.
– I think so. – And I’m still learning how it is ’cause we’re in the
middle of it, you know. So I’m still kinda
learning what that means. But yeah, Broadway debut. I’m on this show with y’all. So, I think, you know– – What more do you really want? – What more could one want in life aside from a big bowl of
ramen which sounds delicious to me right now.
– Oh, we’ll get that for you right away. – [Caitlin] We’ll just
go right after this. – Right, we’ve got it all–
– Perfect. – We’ve figured out our evening. That’s wonderful. Sullivan, thank you!
– Thank you so much. – For joining us. You guys, see “Slave Play”. You’ll laugh and you will
go down a mysterious hallway with this man. Have a great weekend, and Caitlin will you take us on out. – Yes, thank you guys so
much for tuning in today. We are live at five every single weekday here on Facebook. And you can listen to us
wherever you get your Podcast by searching for #LIVEatFIVE and hitting that subscribe button. Be sure to tune in on Monday, we talk to the “Wicked
Witches” Hannah Corneau and Ginna Claire Mason. (upbeat music)