In Conversation With : A Walk in the Woods Director Ron Clark

Get an inside look at the process of creating RT productions with our IN CONVERSATION series

A Walk in the Woods ran January 26 – February 12th  at Riverside Theatre. Read our interview below with director of AWITW Ron Clark and RT’s Marketing Team.

Could you share with us your history with Lee and the play?


RC: Lee and I first met in grad school when I acted in his play The Authentic Life of Billy the Kid. We took the play all the way to the Kennedy Center and had a great time. We continued to be friends when I lived near him in Minneapolis around 1980. I played John Honeyman in the first RT production of this play in 1989 with Jody Hovland directing.


What has it been like to revisit this show now as Director, have you had any new discoveries? 


RC: I’ve discovered that I identify more strongly with Botvinnik…Cynicism with politics is to blame I suppose. I also have an even keener appreciation of Lee’s beautiful use of language. He was a poet before becoming a playwright.


Could you tell me more about Lee’s intricate and beautiful relationship with language inthis piece?


RC: It comes out most strongly, I feel, in the rhythms of the dialogue. There are inherent builds and slower moments that must be respected and played. A real sensitivity to Lee’s great dialogue is essential to the success of the show. 


Riverside’s tagline for this production has been “A story of the past, now eerily prescient.” How do you think this show will resonate with audiences today? 


RC: I predict audiences will have multiple AHA! Moments and see their contemporary concerns right on stage. It’s shudder-worthy…and FUNNY.


What a dynamic combo!  Audiences might be surprised to learn this show is both eerie and hysterical. How did you balance these elements as the show came to life? Do they ever meld together? 


RC: It’s the absolute best when an audience is laughing and gets caught in an emotional knockdown.  There are several quick seesaws like that in this production. 


Choosing to stage this work (traditionally performed in proscenium) in the round is really interesting- what has that process been like creating a work to be played in the round?


RC: I’ve put in a lot of steps at rehearsal striding around to continually check sightlines and I’m sure actors are tired of hearing me mutter about “diagonals” and “keep squirming.” Seriously, the intimacy of this staging is absolutely compelling.



Speaking of intimacy, what is the process of directing a piece with two actors on stage the entire time?


RC: Like any theatrical journey, it’s one beat, one scene, act at a time. If you’re lucky as a director, you have wonderful actors like these guys and then it’s a three-way conversationthat solves problems and builds a play together.