Dennis Parker – Stage Actor
Photos by Sheila Cannon
CS: How did you get into the performing arts?
DP: Performance art has always been in my DNA, but it wasn’t until 2016, when my kids coaxed me into auditioning for “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” at the Signal Mountain Playhouse, that I discovered the possibilities. It’s been an unending love affair ever since.
CS: What groups do you currently perform with?
DP: In the last several years, I’ve been blessed to perform for several organizations including the Signal Mountain Playhouse, Chattanooga Theatre Centre, Oak Street Playhouse, Ensemble Theatre Company, Yellow Dragon Productions, Chattanooga State Community College, and my own fledging theatre company, Mountain Arts Theatre.
CS: What has been your favorite role or performance, and why?
DP: Being Andrew Makepeace Ladd III in “Love Letters” was life-changing and disruptive in ways I never expected theatre to be. It was the first time I found myself relating to the failings of a character, and that forced me to take a hard look at how I was conducting my life.
CS: Describe what your training looks like.
DP: Openness to vulnerability, discipline, repetition, being soft, being loud, loving, suffering, making discoveries, and making mistakes, all while exploring the emotional and physical possibilities of the character I will be inhabiting. Learning my lines to the point of being able to forget them and live in the moment of that character while on the stage. The repetition work can be tedious, but like a runner training for a distance race, you get out of it what you put in.
CS: What are some common misconceptions
people have about the performing arts?
DP: This is a guess for me, but one common misconception would seem to be that what we do is “pretend.” Whether it’s an actor or a musician, any notion that they are not living what they are bringing to the stage would be a discredit to the authenticity they have worked hard to bring to their audience.
CS: In your opinion, what makes a good performer?
DP: Thoughtful ferocity, where they fully abandon themselves and let the character shine through.
CS: What’s one piece of advice that you have
for someone considering entering the performing arts?
DP: Learn to let go of yourself and any preconceived notions of a character. This allows me a fuller experience and to realize the joy, or the sorrow, that may reside in that character.
CS: Is there anything you’d like to add?
DP: Theatre participation and all of the life lessons it allows should be encouraged in our youth. It doesn’t have to be your life to make for a better life. Also, if you have not gone to the theatre lately or at all, give it a shot. You might be surprised by what you were missing.