We return with our fifth installment in our Actors Series, where we feature some of the most talented actors in outdoor immersive theater in NYC. Each actor brings their own flare and passion to our interactive murder mystery shows, engaging audiences so well, many believe their characters are real!
This week, our featured actor is Joel Austin. Learn about his experiences in interactive theater, and don’t forget to catch him in one of our unique productions in the Lower East Side.
Q: How did you become part of the Live in Theater cast?
A: I became a part of Live in Theater when Nicole Orabona [Casting Director at LIT] invited me to come audition. We had done a play together a few months prior. I then auditioned on tape and had a callback with Collin [Associate Director at LIT].
Q: What are the differences between interactive theatre and traditional theatre?
A: Interactive theatre is much more audience-centric in my opinion. Once you get a good sense for the role you’re playing, you must also be constantly aware of how the audience is receiving the information you’re character is giving them. The feedback loop is immediate and in the moment, so you’re also constantly adjusting to the information you’re receiving. In that way, I think interactive theatre is more of a mashup of traditional theatre, improv, and standup.
Q: What is your favorite element of interactive work?
A: I adore getting to know the audience as another person. I feel especially good when audience members don’t recognize me after the show. That’s how I measure if I was an effective performer or not.
Q: Who would be one historical figure in history you would like to play?
A: Jim Jones.
Q: What do you love about the character(s) you play?
A: The freedom of them. I play a lot at Live in Theater. My character count in 2018 (I joined in early spring of this year) is 6 characters: 1 in The Trial of Typhoid Mary 1915, 2 in The Lombardi Case 1975, and 3 in The Ryan Case 1873. That doesn’t include alterations of characters for touring shows which has happened twice and show revisions in general. My point is that every single role is its own thing and I relish the freedom to play with the audience in different ways.
Q: What’s the biggest challenge about taking on your character(s)?
A: I think the biggest challenge is just keeping all the information straight. But I’m getting more and more comfortable just saying I don’t know.
Q: What’s the last thing you do before an experience begins?
A: The last thing I do totally depends on the experience. Generally, I take one more look over everything, start talking in whichever accent I need, and get my body moving the way I want.
Q: What did you add to the persona of the character during the interactive experience?
A: I’m not trying to dodge this question, but I’m not sure I can answer it really. I feel like everything I do is an addition. The thing doesn’t exist without my place in it. There are many Patrick Burke’s, but this one is mine.
Q: What do you do when you’re not doing theatre?
A: I enjoy doing a variety of things when I’m not doing theatre, such as write, edit video, motion graphics, and music.
Q: If you had a magic wand, what show would you do next?
A: Typhoid Mary is my favorite. I know that may not be a common answer, but I dig Mary a lot. I think a trial is way more interesting for the audience than a murder mystery. At least in my admittedly limited experience. They seem to leave having felt more personally involved.
Joel Austin has been performing since childhood and in the city since 2015. He’s trained in Improv, Meisner, Shakespeare, and more. He’s the recipient of several acting awards and nominations and currently studies with Terry Schreiber at the T. Schreiber Studio. Joel is also a voice over artist, Film/TV/Commercial actor, and musician. Find out more about him at actorjoelaustin.com.