I love Albert Einstein. He once said, “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will get you everywhere.” Gorgeous sentiment, isn’t it? I think the spirit behind that thought is the same spirit that motivates artists and audiences to explore ideas in the theatre. Sometimes, you can’t think your way through something – you have to find a way to experience it. And theatre gives us that opportunity – when we watch a performance, we are not just thinking about what’s happening in front of us – all of our senses (and I would include imagination as one of the senses that my elementary school health classes never seemed to include) are at work, giving us the opportunity to not just witness a story, but to experience that story. But you can’t experience it if you don’t have a ticket to get in the door…so today, we return to the box office, for 20 Questions for Johnathan Hamolsky:
JW: OK, Johnathan, give us your basic details – who are you, where are you from…
I’m a lover of theatre and literature. I’m from a small town in New Hampshire called Rindge, about an hour and half north-west of Boston. I come from a family full of doctors and love being the black-sheep. I’ve lived in Rochester for three years and love it.
JW: What’s the first play you remember seeing?
My first professional production was Twelfth Night done by a small theatre company in Boston (unfortunately I can’t remember the name) as part of a field-trip in Middle School. However, my school district had an annual Shakespeare festival which I participated in every year since fifth grade. I can’t remember what show I saw first but if it’s Shakespeare odds are I’ve seen it, read it, and performed it.
JW: That’s a pretty impressive feat! Where did you go to school? Did you study theatre?
I was a theatre major and literature minor at Alfred University (class of 2011). I did everything from acting and directing to running sound board and building sets.
JW: When did you know you were destined to work in a theatre?
I always loved participating in my school district’s Shakespeare festival just to try something new. However, in High School I got bored of Biology and Chemistry and that’s truly when I fell in love with performing. This sparked my decision to pursue theatre in college and I was completely hooked. Geva is actually my first professional job doing anything theatre related and while I’d rather be in the artistic side of things I wouldn’t want to do anything else.
JW: What would you say is the best part of your job?
Getting people in to enjoy theatre. It’s kind of nice knowing that I’m one of the major factors in ensuring that someone has had an enjoyable experience. The Box Office is truly the front-line of the theatre experience, which can be incredibly difficult in some ways and very rewarding in others.
JW: If you had a job in theatre that wasn’t the one you actually have, what would it be? (Talent for this role is not required…)
I’ve always loved acting, but my time as a literature minor in college taught me the joys of researching a piece of theatre (or literature) and making discoveries in a dramaturgical (if that’s even a word) way. So, I think I would love to be a dramaturg. Also who wouldn’t want to direct?
JW: Hurray for dramaturgy!! I think we all have a little dramaturg inside of us – anytime you wonder, “Hmm. I wonder why it’s that way?” you’re thinking like a dramaturg. And if you act on that curiosity and do a little research, you’re acting like one too. When people ask you to describe Rochester, what do you say?
“It’s not what you would expect.” Despite going to college in the area Rochester continues to surprise me with how much it has to offer in the way of the arts and entertainment, especially for a city its size. Everyone I talk to who is not from here is surprised by this when they come here.
JW: What’s your favorite Rochester-area attraction?
I love the Museum of Play. It’s a truly unique experience to any other museum I’ve ever been to. It’s fun for both children and adults and you could never see the whole thing in one day. Also it’s a wonderful place to bring a date – I could never be with someone that doesn’t enjoy playing with Lego’s every now and again.
JW: If you were stranded on a desert island, and could only bring a playwright with you (I know – that’s sort of random, isn’t it?), who would you bring?
Living, I would have to go with Sam Shepard. Alive or dead, it would be Eugene O’Neill. I love how they experiment with theatre and find their stories about family so well crafted and fascinating.
JW: Is there a place you haven’t yet been that you’d most like to visit?
I’ve always wanted to travel around the continent of Africa. I have family from South Africa and many family members and friends have traveled all over. They’ve all told me that it is the most beautiful place on Earth and that the people are amazing.
JW: What books are on your nightstand right now?
A whole array of plays, books and anthologies. Currently I’m rereading The Confidence Man by Herman Melville and slowly going through Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu.
JW: What are you looking forward to most in the upcoming season?
I can’t wait to see The 39 Steps. I like the story and love the theatricality.
JW: There’s been a rash of kitten and puppy adoption amongst the Geva staff this summer. Are you a dog person or a cat person?
I’ve had both throughout my life, but no one understands you better than your dog.
JW: Our first production of the 2013-2014 season features pie – what’s your favorite kind?
My grandfather’s Blueberry pie (he is an amazing baker).
JW: Yum…If you were going to take a road trip, and could only bring three people with you, who would you bring?
My younger sister Ginny who has been one of my best friends for years. My friend Jurden who always makes me think of new things and different ways and is the best Chess partner ever. Finally my girlfriend Nicole who always eases my mind when I need it most.