‘A Quick 5′ with Eric Hissom

Eric Hissom

Eric Hissom has just completed a run of Bengal Tiger At The Baghdad Zoo at Round House Theatre where he portrayed Tiger. Other DC credits include the lead role in Cyrano De Bergerac, Macbeth and Arcadia at Folger Theatre, and In The Next Room or The Vibrator Play at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company. Other select regional credits include productions at Arden Theatre Company, Two River Theatre Company, The Orlando Shakespeare Theater, Gulfshore Playhouse, Syracuse Stage and The Cleveland Playhouse. He is the author of the play The Ghosts of Sleepy Hollow. Directing credits include The 39 Steps at Florida Studio Theatre and many productions at Cape May Stage. For his work on Arcadia at Folger Theatre Eric won a Best Supporting Actor Helen Hayes Award.

What was your first professional performing job in the DC area?

My first job in the DC area was Macbeth at the Folger, directed by Aaron Posner and Teller. I played a witch, a doctor, a murderer and the drunken porter. Each character had an elaborate costume, so I was virtually disguised for each of them, and spent a lot of time changing clothes. For the porter, however, I was virtually naked as I entertained/tormented the audience with macabe knock-knock jokes.

How would you describe the character you played in Bengal Tiger At The Baghdad Zoo?

The Tiger is a beast burdened with intelligence; a predator burdened with remorse; a tormented, wise-cracking, existential monster, seeking meaning in a war-ravaged world.

Eric Hissom (Tiger). Photo by Danisha Crosby

Of all of the roles you have played, who are your favorite period and modern characters?

The Tiger is definitely one of my favorite roles of all time. I saw the pre-Broadway Los Angeles production and thought “I have to play that role sometime!” And lo and behold I got the chance. I guess I’ll call that my favorite modern character. I find that existential beast thing very funny and very touching. It reminds of the title character in one of my favorite novels, Grendel by John Gardener. As for period characters: I’d probably have to go with Cyrano. The whole spectrum is there, comedy, tragedy, romance, adventure, and I got play the guitar and do some kick-__ sword fighting.

Most actors say they want to direct. Do you have any interest in directing?

I have directed, several times, so, yes, I would say I have an interest in directing. Although, I have to admit that during technical rehearsals of the last production I directed—The 39 Steps, at Florida Studio Theatre in Sarasota—for reasons I won’t go into here, I vowed I would never direct again.  So, I suppose I’d say I have mixed feelings about directing.

Now that Bengal Tiger At The Baghdad Zoo has closed, where can we see you next?

I am doing the repertory season at Asolo Rep in Sarasota, Florida. Three plays running in repertory from late fall until June. The three shows are: Glengarry Glen Ross, You Can’t Take it with You, and Ken Ludwig’s newest, The Game’s Afoot. So, alas, I will not be in the DC area for the rest of this season, but I do love it here, and hope to be working here next season.