HOLLYWOOD—Handsome and talented actor James Roday is best known as Shawn Spencer in the USA Network original series “Psych,” which has recently been renewed for its sixth season, and he has also directed several of the episodes. Last year, James starred in Red Dog Squadron’s acclaimed, world premiere production of “Extinction,” which moved from Los Angeles to an Off Broadway run at the Cherry Lane Theatre. Also for Red Dog, he performed in “Sexual Perversity in Chicago,” and he wrote and directed“Sustenance,” which starred Amanda Detmer and Brad Raider. New York theater credits include “The Three Sisters,” Twelfth Night: A Respectable Wedding,” and “Severity’s Mistress.” Roday starred in Wim Wenders’ “Don’t Come Knocking, Rolling Kansas” directed by Thomas Haden Church, and the Warner Bros. film adaptation of “The Dukes of Hazzard,” as Billy Prickett. In addition to acting and directing, Roday co-wrote both the first and second season finales of “Psych” as well as other episodes in later seasons.
Q-James – Do you enjoy directing as much as acting?
A-“I do but it’s a completely different animal. I love actors and am inspired by watching their discoveries. Because I have some context for the discipline, I find myself engulfed in the process, often appreciating another actors’ work so much that I forget to assess the bigger picture. In addition, this is the first time I’ve directed material (in any medium) that I haven’t written myself. There is an obvious expectation and sense of duty to service the play but it is supplemented by an obligation to service another vision aside from your own. That’s something new. Finally, acting can bring immediate gratification; that is to say one can have a single line or a single scene in a play, or on camera and nailing it means success. Directing is more accumulative; you’re responsible for the actors and everything around them in every scene.”
Q-Do you like stage and theatre work over the television genre?
A-“Again, very different animals. There is nothing like live theatre. I’ll say that. As a culture, it predates the discovery of fire. Whether you’re acting or directing, there is an element of purity with theatre that is impossible to achieve in film or television because the camera is there. Theatre requires a relationship between performer and audience. It’s a special relationship. On the flip side, you can make a lot of mistakes on TV and nobody ever knows. It’s a medium full of Mulligans. Both collaborations can be very rich but, all things being equal, theatre is skydiving without a parachute. That is a tough sensation to top.”
Q-What has been the most difficult part of putting this project together for the L.A. stage?
A-“Well, we’re getting better at producing theater with each show we mount. It’s never easy because while you can’t spit in any direction without hitting an actor or a technician in LA, it’s not a theatre town. There are some really good companies here trying to change that culture but it’s an uphill climb that I suspect will only get steeper.
“Equity waiver theatre doesn’t pay the bills pure and simple. In fact it doesn’t even pay ”˜a’ bill, that’s not one single bill. So you’re in need of lovers of the game. We’re lucky in that we’ve managed to build a small but ridiculously talent-rich stable of artists who are willing to shuffle their schedules and lifestyles not once but every time we produce a show. I think the fact that it is not easy makes it exponentially more satisfying. That and the fact that all egos get checked at the door. Everyone is assembled for the right reason and that generally lends itself to better work, unless of course the material is sub par. So that’s the other hard part, finding the play.”
Q-Can we expect you to be directing more theatre work as well as TV in the future?
“greedy” ”“ the West Coast premiere of Karl Gajdusek’s edgy and very dark comedy. Five people struggle with greed, hope, desire and integrity in the wake of an emailed plea for money that promises big returns. Is it a scam or a golden opportunity? James Roday directs a cast that includes Amanda Detmer, Kurt Fuller, Peter Mackenzie, Ivana Milicevic, Brad Raider, and Roday’s co-star on USA Network’s “Psych,” Maggie Lawson.
Written by Karl Gajdusek
Directed by James Roday
Starring Amanda Detmer, Kurt Fuller, Peter Mackenzie, Ivana Milicevic, BradRaider and Maggie Lawson
Presented by RED DOG SQUADRON, James Roday and Brad Raider, Artistic Directors
Previews: January 6 and 7
Performance Schedule: January 8 through January 29
Thursdays at 8 p.m., Jan. 6 (preview), 13, 20 and 27
Fridays at 8 p.m., Jan. 7 (preview), 14, 21 and 28
Saturdays at 8 p.m., Jan. 8 (opening), 15, 22 and 29
Sundays at 8 p.m., Jan. 9, 16 and 23
El Centro Theatre
804 N. El Centro Ave
Hollywood, CA 90038
www.reddogsquadron.com Tickets are $20.00