Franky, He’s a Heck of a Guy

Actor, director and teacher Giles Davies has happily been working with Jobsite since the 2011 production of Quills. He has been seen in the company’s productions of Othello, 1984, The Tempest, Cloud Nine, Twelfth Night, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Macbeth, Fahrenheit 451, his one-person show POE and the Job-side project Check (which he co-wrote).

He also directed the 2015 production of Orlando and a Jobside project, 4:48 Psychosis. He is 20-year veteran of the esteemed Cincinnati Shakespeare Company. He enjoys teaching and traveling and was a visiting professor at The University of Cincinnati, College Conservatory of Music and Drama.

Caught in the Act asked Giles to muse on Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus, his next project.

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When The Straz provided the opportunity for me to stage Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus, I found myself once more terrified, anxious and thrilled. A familiar state, to be sure, but each time as potent as the first.
Terror arises at the prospect of having to face the size, scope and demands of performing this solo show. It requires a high degree of finesse and specificity. The toll on my voice, the physical exertion, and mental focus makes me feel inadequate. I return home nightly needing vocal rest, mentally vapid, and, in the morning, discovering new aches and bruises. This “monster” is simply larger than I can fill.

Davies in Jobsite’s production of Macbeth, 2013. (Photo: Crawford Long)

Anxiety increases daily as the calendar pushes me forward, inexorably, toward the moment I face the audience. In the modern age, where every imaginable form of engagement rests at our fingertips, I am always amazed that people would choose to take the time to go to the theatre. It is my responsibility to ensure that time is not wasted. I must be brilliant, reflective, and soulful to fulfill the unwritten contract between audience and performer. Self-doubt is inescapable, yet deadly. This quandary is only relieved by superseding the ego, leaning on the higher self and allowing the human spirit to be reflected back to the audience, telling a story of truth that is universal. A terrifying prospect, indeed.

Georgia Mallory Guy and Davies in rehearsal for Jobsite’s 2019 production of Constellations. (Photo: Pritchard Photography)

Thrilled, because I am given the honor of bringing this timeless tale of warning to my community. I’ve always loved retelling the classics. Tried and true stories that have stood the test of time due to their universal themes. Stories of such potency that they have left an indelible mark upon our culture. Frankenstein is one of these. As we each pursue our dreams, driven to fight for our wants, desiring recognition for our work, we must always remember that we have a higher responsibility. Our responsibility to each other. Now, especially, this seems to me to be a vital reminder.

Davies as Caliban in Jobsite’s The Tempest, 2018. (Photo: Pritchard Photography)

I have always been the type of actor who tackles performance like a sport. I need to feel engaged, pushed to my extremes or else I feel as though I am not doing the material or the art form justice. My audience has given me the gift of their time, and focus and in so doing, deserve the utmost respect and dedication. Theatre is a dying art form — it dies every time it finishes. It exists only in the present. Due to that fact, each performance must be of the highest quality to ensure that those that attend, will do so again. As a practitioner of this art form, I consider live theatre to be of great value, if not vital, to our community. These beliefs instill in me a reverence, a sacred attachment, transforming the act of performance into a spiritual journey of communion. This is why I choose to be an actor. This is what gives my life meaning.

Robert Richards, Jr. and Giles Davies in Jobsite’s 2019 production of Othello. (Photo: Pritchard Photography)

When the coronavirus appeared, theatre stopped, necessarily. As it persisted, I waned. I am so thankful to The Straz for dedicating themselves to providing a safe environment in which we may once more join in the vibrant, vital act of communion which we call Theatre. Thank you for taking the time to read this, and please, join me in my church, and allow me to engage your imagination with a story of hubris, tragedy, abuse, and hope.

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Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus runs in the Jaeb Theater Oct. 29-Nov, 20, 2020. For more information visit www.strazcenter.org.

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