There are thousands upon thousands of people coming out of high schools and colleges all over America every year that are determined to pursue a life as an ACTOR! Parents cry, friends smile, family wonders how long they’re going to have to support the lunacy. For most, in short order it becomes apparent that it’s not all fun and games, it’s hardly glamorous, and with very few exceptions, they’re gonna have to make a living while they’re trying to make it as an ACTOR. By and by, within years, most of those have found other fields of interest.
Then there’s a small percentage that despite the challenges, despite the reality that it’s nigh on impossible to make a living as an actor, it is the one thing they must do. In spite of the challenges, in spite of the rejection, in spite of the abject poverty, there is a fulfillment of the soul that cannot be acquired nor nurtured in any fashion but upon a stage with an audience before them. These people become actors.
Jon Mullich is one of those actors. On a small stage in North Hollywood, Jon is currently performing the role of Richard in Shakespeare’s Richard III. He finds it ironic, that this may be the last show he performs under the 99-seat plan, as he had the pleasure of performing in the first Hamlet that was produced under the plan some 35 years ago. For all that time, he has enjoyed being part of the theatre continuum, performing and helping to train new younger actors.
Part of the irony is that Jon has spent his life performing in these great master works, as a student of Shakespeare, and as a classically trained actor. For the most part, he has received very little remuneration for the effort other than a profound love of the craft and the joy of working with other actors. The rest of the irony is that Jon is one of the foot soldiers that is helping to fight his own union, Actor’s Equity Association. His goal, along with many others in LA, is to stop the union from effectively destroying the opportunity for new actors to have a shot to experience roles he has cherished through his career.
Aside from his participation as an activist, he has become the illustration leader for the movement. He has created dozens of parody images of other battlers for the cause, and those can be found all over Facebook, or by visiting his site, madbeast.com. Within those digital pages, we see Jon’s creative force as a web designer, as well as his academic pursuit of Shakespearean performances, and the ranking of performances through history.
Allowing actors the opportunity to find and fulfill magnificent roles with engaged companies who work for the love of their work, is part and parcel of being an actor. While the written word is there for performance, the performer infuses the soul of a character. Jon finds a great spiritual journey, a path to joy in the flushing out of a character.
Ian McKellen and his character investigations are the model for Jon’s own journeys. Finding the essence of a character from within. Discovering the humanity of a character, even if written as a monstrous villain. Historic accuracy is of little importance, according to Jon, as the writer, in this case Shakespeare, is looking to use the nature of the character to illustrate a point, the story line being but a backdrop to punctuate the proposition.
Like most accomplished actors, Jon has been studying the character of Richard for a very long time. It’s not just about learning lines, some of which he has accomplished over a number of years, but it’s about the values and relationships of the character, the earnestness and reality of the stakes, and how that translates to an audiences’ perspective.
In his real life, Jon like most actors has found a way to make a living elsewhere, which supports the time demands of acting. Not just the time of performance or rehearsal, but also the prep, the study, the hours of reflection and investigation.
So, with three performances a week through the end of August at the Eclectic Company Theatre at 5312 Laurel Canyon Boulevard in North Hollywood, you can see the product of a lifetime of study and joy, and the embodiment of what many American actors become.