At Steppenwolf, we love to bring actors' voices alive in our programs. For Middletown, we also wanted to talk about how regular places are made important by the memories we attach to them. We asked all of the cast members to answer questions from a list of 20 – some serious, some playful – about places that left an impression in their lives. Here's what they had to say…
ALANA ARENAS:Where did you learn to swim? I don't know how to swim but there were attempts at a public pool. Where (and what) was your first concert? Chicago Theatre, Brain McKnight. Where was the place that you really wanted to drive after you got your driver's license? I'm learning how to drive and I hope to get a license soon, and I hope I can go to a drive-in movie. What was your first job? A Bon Marche, Tampa, Florida.
BRENDA BARRIE:Where did you have your first kiss? Oh goodness, playing hide and seek at the beach. My first boyfriend and I hid in the big rocks off Lake Michigan near my hometown in Indiana. That little magical moment felt like an eternity—I originally thought our friends couldn't find us, but I later learned they weren't even trying! Where were you when you lost a loved one for the first time? I was nine years old and I remember wanting to ride bikes with my mom on a beautiful summer day. She was on the phone and I didn't understand that she was getting a painful call. I had hoped we could pause whatever was happening, ride bikes to the park, then come back and deal with the adult hard stuff. Cancer had taken my grandma pretty quickly and before this moment I didn't really understand death. Where was your favorite place to run away to as a kid? A childhood friend had the coolest setup—he lived on the other side of our town's small lake at a private yacht club, where his dad took care of the grounds. It was the best kind of isolated. In the winter, we'd walk across the lake to get there and in the summer, it took hours of walking down a very long dirt road. It was almost like you stepped back into a different time. We'd pitch tents, fish, sneak out in paddle boats in the middle of the night—we always felt free and safe. Where was your first job? I have to admit that I loved working at that hot dog stand in Whiting, Indiana. I remember thinking during my first interview that I needed to work really hard to convince an employer to hire me and at one point I said I was a "real person people." But I did hold true to what I meant, I enjoyed talking to regulars that came in and had a blast finding the fun and humor at working at a hot dog stand. The next big job was working at a port-a-potty factory… I oddly found this even more fun. Where was the first time you changed a tire? I had such a fascination with driving for years. I was observant and full of questions for anyone behind the wheel. I appreciated how someone driving could keep their cool when there was so much happening around them, but I didn't understand how they didn't look more excited to be driving! It didn't take me long to learn to drive, and a family friend let me drive the car to the store. I waved ecstatically to my step-dad when I returned home and took the front end of the car up onto the two foot curb. I learned a few things that day—why drivers don't look more excited while driving and how to change a tire.
MOLLY GLYNN:Where did you have your first kiss? My friend Roxanne's family room in Connecticut. The guy was named Mike and he had a perm. Kinda looked like Christopher Atkins from The Blue Lagoon. Where did you learn to swim? Weekapaug, Rhode Island. Where was the first time you saw the ocean? I grew up spending summers in Weeekapug, Rhode Island—so I never remember not seeing the ocean. Where (and what) was your first concert? The Police, Hartford Civic Center, Connecticut. Where did you have your first cup of coffee? I have never, in my life, had a cup of coffee. Or a soda. No joke. Where did you hang out on your high school campus that you weren't really supposed to be? Believe it or not, there was still a designated "smoking area" at my high school. For the students and teachers. At the start of the year, parents had to fill out a permission slip, checking one of three boxes: a) My son/daughter is not allowed to be in the smoking area; b) My son/daughter is allowed to be in the smoking area; c) My son/daughter is allowed to be in the smoking area, but not to smoke. Try enforcing that. Where was the coolest spot to hang out in at your high school? The big rehearsal room on the third floor of the oldest building, built in the 1870s. Where is the best place to see the stars? Lying on a blanket in the Juddville Cemetery in Door County, Wisconsin. Where was the first place that you lived by yourself? Chicago. Lakeview. Where was your first job? Westerly, RI Hospital. I was a candy striper. (Early research for my role in Middletown).
TIM HOPPER:Where did you learn to swim? Seattle, Washington when I was in my 40s. Before that, only a dog paddler. Where was the first time you saw the ocean? South Ponte Vedra, Florida which is between St. Augustine and Jacksonville. Where was your first job? International House of Pancakes in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Dishwasher. Where was the first time you changed a tire? Interstate 75 between Chattanooga and Knoxville, Tennessee.
ORA JONES:Where did you learn to swim? I learned to swim in Panama. When there's water on either side, and tropical storms above, it's a good idea. Where did you first see the ocean? The first time I saw the ocean was Massachusetts. Still great. Where was the place that you really wanted to drive after you got your drivers' license? When I got my license, I drove literally around the corner to my friend's house. And parked. Where did you learn to cook? I learned to cook in my mother's kitchen. She still has more imagination than most.
KEITH KUPFERER:Where did you have your first kiss? In my grandmother's basement. Where was your favorite place to run away to as a kid? I would run away to a cemetery down the road. Where do you remember first crying in public? My first day at kindergarten Where did you go after you moved out? To an apartment above a pizzeria in Poughkeepsie, New York.
MARTHA LAVEY:Where did you learn to swim? At the community swimming pool in Overland Park, Kansas. I hated it because I was frightened. Where was the first time you saw the ocean? The Atlantic Ocean as a little girl. My family vacationed in Rehobeth Beach, Delaware. From which we all have incredibly happy memories. My youngest brother, Jim, and his wife, Rebecca, now bring their boys to Rehobeth. Where was the first place that you lived by yourself? 5649 N. Winthrop in Edgewater, Chicago. When my boyfriend moved out of our two-bedroom in the same building to go to graduate school in California, I moved into a one-bedroom in the building—which I loved. Where was your first job? My first job after babysitting was as a waitress at the Big Boy restaurant in the Northland Shopping Mall in Detroit, Michigan during high school. We worked like dogs.
TRACY LETTS:Where did you have your first kiss? Twin City Drive-In, Denison, Texas. The movie was Night Creature, starring Donald Pleasence. Where (and what) was your first concert? The Rolling Stones, University of Illinois, Champaign, November 15, 1969. I was four years old. My whole family went. Where did you go after you moved out? I moved into a small craftsman house with a cocaine dealer. We were under near constant surveillance by law enforcement. Where did you learn to cook? My mother taught me.
DANNY McCARTHY:Where was your first job? Ship Drive-In, Durant, Oklahoma. I sold tickets, ran the arc light projector, cooked and sold the food, mowed the lawn, repaired broken speakers. Where did you have your first kiss? Ah, Little Bristol grade school's playground. St. Louis, Missouri. Playing Kiss Tag. Terrible execution. More chin than mouth. Where (and what) was your first concert? Pink Floyd at the St. Louis Arena. Or was it still called the Checkerdome? I remember a flying pig. Where was the first time you changed a tire? Downtown Chicago with Meighan Gerachis after a performance. Filthy work. And time consuming. Probably took an hour. Literally. Where did you go after you moved out? On Byron and Alta Vista in Lakeview. Big studio. My friend Tarek lived in the next building. I distinctly remember LOVING my bathroom. My VERY OWN!!!
MICHAEL PATRICK THORNTON:Where did you get your first library card? Jefferson Park, Chicago. Where was your favorite place to run away to as a kid? The marshland and forest behind my grandparent's house. They bulldozed most of it to make condos. I live in one now in a strange mix of guilt and pride. Where was the coolest spot to hang out in at your high school? Late at night, editing the newspaper and literary magazine in the computer hall. Room? Hall? I forgot what it is called. The Freshman building. Where was your first job? I was a newspaper delivery boy, and then I worked at the airport pushing people in wheelchairs; or, as I now call it, for the “Department of Future Irony.”