Blog contributed by Emmy Walden Fox.
I recently met with Chris Flockton, ArtisTree’s new Theatre Director to talk about his acting career and ArtisTree’s new theatre program. We met at the construction site of The Grange Theatre scheduled to open this summer.
What got you started?
I wish there was some inspiring story behind my attraction to the acting profession. There isn’t. As a teenager I discovered that I could make people laugh and get girls to like me by acting in plays. Then, later I figured out that it was possible to get paid for it, too! I had found what I loved to do, and I never looked back
Who were the biggest inspirations for your career?
While I’ve always been a fan of people like McKellen, Branagh, Jacobi, to mention a few, I’m constantly inspired by new performances I see in the theatre, in film, and on TV on a daily basis. I’m inspired by other actors doing amazing work. It makes me want to get back up on stage and do what I do. Only better.
What's the best advice you've had about your career?
The best advice I ever got was, “Always be working.” If the business isn’t showing you the love, you’re responsible for getting out there and creating your own work. If you do it right, eventually the business will pay attention. I’ve tried my best to do this over the years with my work in sketch comedy, writing, producing my own work, and podcasting.
The second best advice I ever got was, if you forget your lines, just point at another actor on stage.
What are some of your favorite plays?
I’m a sucker for a good British farce. Especially early stuff by Alan Ayckbourn, that recognizes that the human condition can be at once hilarious and dark. My favorite Shakespeare play is Henry V.
In the film of your life, who plays you?
A young Alan Alda. Or Zach Galifianakis. No, wait... Judi Dench!
Did anyone ever discourage you from going into acting?
Yes, many times. I was often told that pursuing acting, as a career, wasn’t practical and that I should have a backup plan. But I also had many people who encouraged me. In my opinion, acting is a profession you should only go into if you have a burning desire to do it. Really, if you can happily do anything else, go and do that. But if acting is really what you want to do, by all means do it. Don’t listen to the people who will try to convince you otherwise. And don’t bother with a backup plan. If you need one, it will reveal itself to you on your journey.
Tell us more about your voice recordings:
I’ve recorded hundreds of hours of TV shows, commercials, radio imaging, promos, corporate videos, film looping, podcasts, etc. You can find some samples at britishvoiceover.net/demos
What do you enjoy most about your career?
One thing I love that would drive a lot of other people crazy is the unpredictability of the acting business. You frequently never know day to day, what you’re going to be doing. Your phone will ring, and you’ll be off across the country as soon as you can pack a bag, or heading into the studio to record a new campaign. Of course, there’s a lot of staring at your phone waiting for it to ring, too! I also love the people. The acting business is filled largely with joyous souls, residing at various points on the crazy spectrum.
How has your career unfolded?
I started with a focus on theatre, my first love, in the 80s. This led me to New York City at the end of 1994. New York is a playground for actors, and I quickly started doing sketch comedy, commercials, corporate gigs, and lots of voiceovers. Over the next 17 years I worked virtually non-stop in theatre, from off-broadway to summer stock, on TV in commercials and shows like The Guiding Light and Law & Order SVU, hosting large events all over the world, narrated 120 episodes of The Fabulous Life for VH1, and much much more. In 2011, I decided to step off the merry-go-round, and moved to the Upper Valley with my wife and young son. I still act in the theatre. I still do voiceovers from my own studio. But life is a lot calmer now. And the view's a lot better.
What is something people may not know about you?
The first film I ever appeared in was Dirty Dancing. I’m unloading the car in front of Jennifer Grey’s when they arrive at the hotel. It’s a very moving performance. I once shared the stage with a camel on the beach in Bali. I used to do political polling for NBC News. While studying acting in New York, I spoke to Robert DeNiro every day (I worked for his answering service). I repeatedly stepped on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s foot during one shot in True Lies. He was very nice about it. I played Dunkin the Donut Man in a live promotional appearance for Dunkin Donuts. I was hung in a harness in front of a green screen dressed as an angel for several hours for a Range Rover commercial. I’m famous in Guatemala for saving 25 donkeys trapped in a sinkhole in 2003. I once held Ian McKellen’s hand. I played Billy Connolly’s parole officer in The Boondocks Saints. I’ve worked at McDonalds. I did stunt driving in the film Blown Away (I’m not a stunt driver). I co-starred with a rat in a short film called, Ronnie’s Rat. The bastard bit me. I say I’m 6’ 1”, but I’m really only 6’ 1/2” - Don’t tell anyone.
The Theatre Program:
What is one part of the theater program you are most excited about right now?
Having the opportunity to be a part of building and starting a brand new theatre is extraordinary. I’m most excited about the blank canvas we’re being given, and the job of matching that to ArtisTree’s core mission of serving the community through art.
What is your vision for the theater program at ArtisTree 5 years from now?
I want ArtisTree’s theatre program to be a safe place for the community to discover all aspects of the theatre, on stage and off, through classes and full productions. My hope is that The Grange Theatre will attract people looking for a home in the theatre. I was given this sort of opportunity earlier in my career, and it was life changing.
To learn more about ArtisTree's theatre program visit:http://www.artistreevt.org/theatre/