Q&A: After performing in “Untitled Russia Play,” CTC’s Alex Brightwell to tackle Chekhov for MFA program

Who: Alex Brightwell, 28, conservatory actor.

He opened the season playing a dog named Mohawk, among other roles, for the Young Playwrights Project. He also played Dmitri Petrovich in Untitled Russia Play for the New Play Workshops and has periodically reprised his roles as Old Adam and Silvius for CTC’s traveling production of As You Like It.

Alex Brightwell

Brightwell said that few people have recognized him as Br’er Rabbit or Captain Ratts from An Octoroon due to his costumes.

“Nobody knows I was in that play because I was hidden away behind a giant mask,” he said.

Where he’s from: Brightwell hails from West Virginia and grew up in North Carolina before moving to Minneapolis, Minnesota, for nine years. Come fall, he will enter his second year at Case Western Reserve University/Cleveland Play House MFA acting program.

First theatrical memory: Brightwell said he was shy and soft-spoken before he auditioned for his first play, It’s a Wonderful Life.

“Going into my freshman year of high school, I decided to challenge myself, so I signed up for theater class,” he said. “I really loved it, and it gave me a chance to stand up in front of people and get me out of my shell.”

Proudest theatrical moment: On the first night of Untitled Russia Play, Brightwell and conservatory actor Ricardy Fabre were “tickled” after they spectacularly missed a high five.

“We had to hold back our laughter because it was a brave new moment, but that fit the characters so well,” Brightwell said. “I will always remember that moment because it’s one of those magic moments that happens on stage that’s so hard to recreate because it’s real. It’s actually real and happening in front of the audience.”

Musical talents: Brightwell started playing the violin in second grade.

“I played all the way up through my senior year of high school, really regularly in high school and community orchestras, but then the love of acting kind of started to take over,” he said. “I pick it up every once in a while, but I don’t play as much as I used to.”

What he’s reading: Less by Andrew Sean Greer, a Pulitzer Prize-winning book about a man who travels the world to  avoid his ex-partner.

“It’s this really funny, really sweet, beautifully written book, and it’s really accessible,” Brightwell said.

What he’s watching: Brightwell is not watching  anything right now, but HBO’s “Sharp Objects” is on his radar.

“I was a huge fan of ‘Big Little Lies,’ and I feel like ‘Sharp Objects’ might be in the same vein,” he said.

Where he’s been: During his undergrad at University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theater, Brightwell spent a semester studying abroad in London, taking classes at the Globe Theatre.

Favorite food: He loves fried chicken and breakfast food.

Dream superpower: Brightwell wishes he had the ability to easily find keys and other objects when they go missing.

“Being able to track something down in an instant would be amazing,” he said.

What’s next: Brightwell will play Konstantin in a Cleveland Play House production of The Seagull at the Cleveland Play House, directed by CTC Artistic Associate Sarah Wansley.

“I absolutely love Chekhov. The world of Chekhov is really fascinating to me, and I’m excited to dive into that,” Brightwell said. “It’s apparently going to be an Americanized version of it that’s not necessarily going to be set in Russia, and it’s a very modern text or translation. (Konstantin is) a dream role, and I’m so excited to be doing it in grad school in the fall.”

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The author Kevin C. Vestal

Kevin Vestal is from Westerville, Ohio, and is a rising senior at Miami University in Ohio, studying journalism and professional writing with a minor in theater. Last summer, he interned for The Florence Newspaper in Italy, and he is excited to cover Chautauqua Theater Company and the Family Entertainment Series for the Daily. An avid thespian, Kevin recently performed on stage in Tartuffe and also has an irrational fear of wrists.