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Jack Koenig: Back at STC 32 Years Later

The Lover and The Collection features three actors new to the STC stages. Jack Koenig, however, finds himself back with the Company since the very first season in Mandragola. Since then, Koenig has tackled many productions on Broadway from Oslo to The Lion King. This go around at STC, he plays Harry in The Collection. STC spoke with him about how he is enjoying D.C. and about the night a blizzard hit D.C. during the run of Mandragola.

STC: What are you enjoying most about D.C.?
JK: I’m enjoying everything about D.C., to be honest. The weather at this time of year has, for the most part, been so pleasant. I purchased a Capital Bikeshare membership and I’ve been biking everywhere; in fact, I haven’t been on the Metro at all yet. This has allowed me to really learn the layout of the city for the first time. The city has so much to offer culturally. I’m a student of architecture and D.C. has great riches in that department. Most of the museums are free, which is a big plus. I’ve already been to the National Gallery of Art twice. I’ve been to theatre, music concerts and two Nationals games. I’m also enjoying the local restaurants and the locally-brewed craft beers.

STC: This is your first time back at STC since the first season in Mandragola by Niccolò Machiavelli. Do you have any memories from that show you could share with us?
JK: The most memorable thing about Mandragola?  It would have to be the blizzard that occurred during the run on January 22, 1987. Washington shuts up like a clam as soon as the first snowflake falls, of course. At 11 a.m., the cast was informed that that evening’s show was being cancelled due to the weather. That night, with the Eastern seaboard shut down by the blizzard, my pregnant wife back in NYC went into labor. There were no planes flying, no buses driving and the overnight milktrain from D.C. to New York took twice as long as it normally would. By the time I finally got to New York Hospital the next morning, my daughter had already been born!  The people at STC sent flowers, but the florist misheard the word “cast” and was confused by the word “crew” and thought Mandragola was the name of a boat; the card read “From the captain and crew of The Mandragola!”

STC: What is it like being back at STC? From your perspective, what are the biggest changes? Has anything stayed the same?
JK: STC has changed so much. Thirty years ago, it was still using the theater in the Folger Library.  It has grown into such a theatrical powerhouse and such a vital part of the cultural life of Washington. It’s really quite impressive.

Patrick Ball and Jack Koenig in THE COLLECTION by Tony Powell.

STC: What is the biggest challenge as an actor in performing Pinter?
JK: The biggest challenge for an actor working on Pinter is the language. It often seems deceptively simple, but there is always so much going on beneath the surface. What is unsaid is just as important as what is said. The famous Pinter pauses are very clearly delineated by the author. They demand that the actor discover their meaning and honor them whenever the text calls for them. They never occur randomly! Pinter and his language demand precision of the actor.

The Lover and The Collection play September 26—October 29.
Click here for tickets and more information.

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