The series ‘A Year In’ catches up with artists now that the coronavirus pandemic has reached its one-year mark.
Austin actor Marc Pouhé masters the big characters of classical theater — Macbeth, Othello, Macbeth, Cyrano de Bergerac, Willy Loman, Shylock — commanding roles that demand much of any theater artist. “Powerful” is the word critics use often to describe Pouhé’s performances — but also “quiet elegance” and “captivating.”
Pouhé has been a stalwart of Austin’s theater landscape for the last two decades working with Austin Shakespeare, Zach Theatre, Austin Playhouse and the Vortex. A board member of Austin Shakespeare, Pouhé has netted a slew of Austin Critics’ Table Awards including the John Bustin Award for Conspicuous Versatility.
Sightlines: What were you working on and looking forward to when the lockdown began in mid-March 2020? What was the first of your work you saw cancelled?
Marc Pouhé: When the lockdown began I had already been offered a chance to repeat my role as Scrooge in the Zach Theatre production of “Christmas Carol.” I truly enjoyed my return to Zach the previous year and was looking forward to participating in another year of a show with such magnitude and joy. I was also preparing to portray Orson Welles in a reimagining of “A War of the Worlds” with a majority Black cast written by Jarrett King for Penfold Theatre. I’ve known the Penfold founders for 12 years and I’m looking forward to finally working with them. The first work that was officially cancelled was “Christmas Carol” as well as all of Zach’s stage productions. “War of the Worlds” was postponed a couple of times but we were able to do a brief Zoom reading of the work in progress, and got some excellent feedback from those in attendance.
S: What part of the pandemic were you surprised to find being a creative benefit?
MP: I have enjoyed the flexibility of rehearsals and find the lack of traffic to be a creative benefit. I live in Georgetown and getting to rehearsals six days a week in central Austin is stressful. Spending an hour in traffic is great for learning lines but a burden when trying to make a performance call, especially if you have a costume or makeup to apply. In addition, during the pandemic, I was actually able to safely perform in a one person show from my home office and reach audience members across the country. I portrayed Thurgood Marshall for the Public Theatre of San Antonio and the circumstances of my remote performance also made working with a theatre 100 miles away feasible.
S: What changes do you want to see in theater, how it’s practiced and how it’s presented to an audience? What could/should the so-called ‘new normal’ of theater look like?