Take Five with Arthur Simone

Arthur Simone is an artist, actor and co-founder of ColdTowne Theater in Austin, TX.  A graduate of Oberlin College, he has studied improv at Chicago’s Improv Olympic and has appeared on-screen in Days of Delusion, Jigsaw, The Evil One, A&E’s Faith of My Fathers, Big Momma’s House 2, and has been featured on the series Friday Night Lights. He was recently named Best Actor by the Austin Chronicle for his performance in his one-man show, Dear Frailty.

 Next Thursday, Steel City Improv Theater welcomes Arthur Simone to the stage for a workshop on character. Get to know him a little better, as he takes five of our questions:

Tell us about your first improv experience. What inspired you to start?

I had seen improv before, but had written it off as goofball “low art,”
devoting myself instead to pursuing a super expensive degree in
theatre. I put it to use stage and film acting in Chicago before
taking a suggestion from my agent and trying classes at Improv
Olympic, where I discovered “everyday” performers making amazing
truthful in-the-moment choices that trumped anything I had ever seen.
I still value my college degree and it gives me great insight into
emotion and characters, but boy, do I wish I had gotten into improv

You wear many hats, creatively—acting, improv, art and even air guitar—is there anything you haven’t done that you would like to do?

I never want to choose the One Thing I’m good at, so I guess that
means I’ll be flitting about in perpetual anxiety about where my next
paycheck is coming from for some time yet… I generally work in one
discipline until I feel I’m beating my head against the wall, then
drop it entirely to delve into something else that recharges my
batteries. In the immediate future, I’d like to try my hand at working
behind the camera instead of in front of it.

Who/where do you think are some current improv innovators (people, troupes, companies, cities)?

Austin is a great melting pot of styles and allows for lots of stage
time and cross-pollination. I’m not a huge fan of the
industry-obsessed landscape of Los Angeles, New York or Chicago, but
you will find some pretty amazing and elite talent to watch if you’re
looking for inspiration. TJ & Dave, 3303, Dasariski and Death by Roo
Roo have all at one point blown my mind all over the floor.

What are some of your favorite improv resources?

While I don’t really read many books on improv, I do love books on
theatre’s place in culture, like Antonin Artaud, Peter Brook and Jerzy
Grotowski. Humans are fundamentally social animals, so there’s a great
deal of insight to be found in nature documentaries as well, I watch
them obsessively.

Your workshop focuses on character. What do you hope the main takeaway will be?

A character is more than just a silly accent or even a deeper
motivation, it’s a unique skin into which the actor can step to see
and experience a world. Realistic and absurd characters alike can be
deep wells of material, and there’s no feeling quite like bringing one
to life.

Author’s Note: We’re hoping to make this a regular column, so you can get to know our instructors, frequent players and guests a little better. If there’s someone you think we should “take five” with, let us know!  -Kat