If you were to ask professional actor Scott Coopwood where he earned his acting chops, he's likely answer would be "Life."
In a 2012 review, Sacramento Bee theater writer Marcus Crowder described the San Anselmo actor with this: "Actor Scott Coopwood's energy bursts out of him. He's an actor but he competes like an athlete."
So, it's interesting when one learns that it was an episode (while Coopwood was forced to take an unexpected break from participating in sports) that gave him the life changing opportunity to discover theater and his true calling.
Coopwood, a award-winning actor and seasoned veteran of the stage, was cast in featured roles in all three of Marin Shakespeare Company's 2012 summer season productions. He has also worked this year as an instructor for the theater company's summer theater camps and educational programs.
In his fifth season with the award winning theater company, Coopwood recently wrapped the company's first production of the summer season, "King John." In the title role of the flawed English ruler, he earned overwhelming critical acclaimed from critics and cheers from audiences for his multi-dimensional portrayal.
Coopwood continues through September with two more performances on the outdoor stage at Forest Meadows Amphitheatre playing Oberon, King of the Fairies in A Midsummer Night's Dream, continuing to Sept. 30 and Philiste in the 17th Century French farce The Liar, continuing to Sept. 23.
Both productions are presented in repertory on weekends at the Forest Meadows Amphitheatre, located on the campus of Dominican University of California in San Rafael. For specific performance dates and information visit the Marin Shakespeare Company website at www.marinshakespeare.org
Recently Scott Coopwood participated a Q & A about his introduction to theater, his acting career and his summer with the Marin Shakespeare Company:
Q: Talk a little about the roles you're playing at Marin Shakespeare this summer.
A: I'm playing King John and Oberon, King of the Fairies and it's good to be the "King." I'm also playing Philiste in The Liar. This summer has given me a long track of time getting to play alongside actor James (Jimmy) Hiser and actress Cat Thompson. Those are my two favorite things about this summer.
Q: Your portrayal of King John this summer featured a range of attitudes, emotions and nuances. How did you prepare for the role?
A: My preparation really consisted of reading the text at least once every day. I began the process three months prior to King John rehearsals. I was performing in Cymbaline at a sold out run in Portland, Oregon. I would work on King John in the day time and perform in Cymbaline at night.
Q: Marin Shakespeare Company's production of King John featured a lot of humor. Can you talk about the choices you made to inject humor into your scenes?
A: The play is a history and could be very, very dry. Off the page it seems impossible to keep it interesting. Finding the humor and the pathos within the scenes, as well as the danger, kept us on our toes and kept the audience engaged, leaning forward and connected to the story.
Q: We found this quote from a 2012 Sacramento Bee article by Marcus Crowder: "Actor Scott Coopwood's energy bursts out of him. He's an actor but he competes like an athlete." Can you elaborate about "competing" as an actor.
A: I grew up in a sports household and in a culture where competition and teamwork are not mutually exclusive. When I teach theater, I use sports metaphors. You have to bring it every day, every night and get yourself into the box and swing the bat. If you don't, then why bother.
Q: How did you first become involved in theater ?
A: I first fell in love with the theater when I was in high school. I got into a fight with a baseball coach and I spent a little time on suspension from my baseball team. I was in a rough place in those days.
I discovered that our high school theater department was doing a production of play M.A.S.H. I was a fan of the television show and I thought "I have all this free time now, let's go see what this is all about." So, I auditioned for the play and got a small part. I just had a glorious time. It was truly a magical experience. But, I never thought it would become my career.
Very early in my senior year, I was fortunate enough to go see a production of The Glass Menagerie, by Tennessee Williams. It was a revelatory experience for me and my life. One of the characters in the play speaks about his experiences and what his life is to him at that time.
It was as if he was speaking about me and about my life at time. What that gave me was the sure sense that I was actually not a freak; that I belonged in the world; and that I was going to be okay. It literally was, at that moment in that theater on that day, that I found that 'belonging' for the first time in my life.
You know, any lifeboat in a storm. And boy, was I in a storm and boy, did I find a lifeboat. And my lifeboat was the theater.
Q: Talk a little about your training and where did you "earn your chops"?
A: I earned my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Arizona Actor Training Program. I was a founding member of the AKA Theatre in Tucson and Covered Bridges Theatre in Vermont. I spent time working in New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles. Then I spent 10 years in Portland, Oregon in 19 plays from Shakespeare's cannon. And life, life, life.
Q: Talk about some of the exciting things you've been able to do because of your career as a professional actor.
A: I lead a pretty interesting life. There's the travel, the great cities and great people I get to know and work with. In that regard, I've been truly blessed.
Q: What do you like to do when you're not working on stage?
A: I read, sleep...I love sports and hiking in the Sierra or anywhere.
Q: Do your prefer playing contemporary or classical roles?
A: I like both. This summer marks five Shakespearean roles in a row which I've played in regional theater. So, I'm ready to play a guy in jeans now.