Triney Sandoval will be performing the role of Capulet in the new production of Romeo & Juliet at Westport Country Playhouse in Westport, CT. (WCP) The play is directed by Mark Lamos, who has served as the artistic director of WCP since 2009. Lamos has become one of the most admired and respected theatrical directors in his interpretation and presentation of works by Shakespeare. I still remember many of the scenes of the productions of plays by Shakespeare, he directed during the 17 years in which he was the Artistic Director at Hartford Stage. The news that Lamos will direct a Shakespeare play always generates great excitement and interest among the theater-loving audience. To have both Lamos directing a play and Latino actor Triney Sandoval in the cast, peaked my interest and I reached out to Pat Blaufuss, Public Relations Manager at WCP. I want to thank her for introducing me to Mr. Sandoval and facilitating this interview.
IN CONVERSATION WITH TRINEY SANDOVAL
BESSY REYNA: Where are your parents from? Did they speak Spanish at home?
TRINEY SANDOVAL: For as long as anyone can remember, both sides of my family come from the Colorado/ New Mexico region – before they were states. As the saying goes. We didn’t cross the border, the border crossed us. Both of my parents were born in New Mexico (my father in Las a Vegas and my mother in Santa Fe) but they met and lived in San Diego. My father grew up speaking both Spanish and English. My mother grew up in a household where they used Spanish as a secret language when they didn’t want the children to know what was going on, so she never learned it. As a result, almost the only time I heard the language was when my father would chat with my maternal grandmother, and I, like my mother, don’t speak a word.
BR: A day in the life of your family, what was it like?
TS: My dad worked as a machinist, my mom stayed home to take care of my brother and me. We had a pool and dogs and ate dinner together every night. I thought I lived the same life that everybody in America lived. It wasn’t until I got older that I realized that not everybody in America had at least 40 people over on birthdays and for every major holiday – and for each gathering had a full ham, a turkey, tamales, and beans with chile. I had no idea that not all of America sent family members to Hatch, New Mexico every 4 or 5 years to pick up 40 bushels of green chile, and then get together over a long weekend (and over several barbecues) to roast, package, freeze, and distribute it throughout the family to carry everyone until the next trip. So while it turns out that it wasn’t necessarily what everyone thinks of as an American childhood, it was a very American childhood.
BR: When did you become interested in acting/singing?
TS: High school was the first time I was on stage. I took a drama class as an elective, and as a relatively quiet kid I found an outlet that I was pretty good at. It was intriguing to be someone else. Adolescence is a time when you’re figuring out who you are, and for me there was no better way to do that than a socially sanctioned avenue of trying on other personalities.
BR: Your first play or concert? Memories about it?
TS: When I was in the 6th grade I saw a production of Sinbad at the local Junior college. I remember lots of smoke and green lights and darkness, but the big thing I walked away with, was seeing actors in one scene as one character and then in the next scene as completely different characters. I was fascinated by not only the change of character but of the change of costume and makeup, and how quickly it could happen. I went home and practiced quick changes in my bedroom. It was more than a fascination with being someone else it was being multiple someone “elses”
BR: Favorite composer, music?
TS: If you’re asking what I listen to and who consistently moves me, I have to confess I’m a pop music fella and I’m a bit stuck in the 70’s and 80’s. I listen to a lot of Paul Simon, Peter Gabriel and everything from Billy Joel.
BR: You have participated in so many different plays all over the country, do you have a favorite theater?
TS: I love working in an outdoor space, but I don’t have a favorite theater, per se. There have been some beautiful ones, but for me, theater is really about the people.
BR: You were part of the cast of Frost/Nixon by Peter Morgan, which is serious and political, and The Underpants which was adapted by Steve Martin, do you prefer drama to comedy?
TS: I love them both! And more than that, I love to mix them as much as I can. The great thing about Shakespeare is that all his plays incorporate both. Maybe that’s because he was an actor and knew that laughter will open an audience to and emotional experience. One thing I love about comedy is the high wire element. You know immediately when you’re successful and when you’ve failed.
BR: You also worked on TV? Elementary and Law &Order, The Sopranos, which are very popular, how was that experience? Which roles did you play?
TS: Usually just one or two scene roles; an FBI agent in The Sopranos, a postman on The Blacklist, but both Law and Order and Law and Order SVU afforded me the opportunity to do recurring roles. In the former, I was a coroner, and in the latter, a computer tech. The wonderful thing about those experiences was that I was able to spend some time getting to know what it was like to be on a set and how that world, which is very different from theater, works.
BR: Do you have a preference as to the type of work you do TV or theater?
TS: Well, my pocketbook loves, loves, loves television, but I’m so much more comfortable in a rehearsal hall and on a stage theater.
BR: Your next project?
TS: There’s nothing on the horizon, but then there rarely is. I tend to start looking for the next job a few weeks before the current one ends.
BR: What do you do for fun?
TS: One of the things I love about theater is the collaborative nature of it. But when it comes to having fun outside of work I look for things that are decidedly un- collaborative. Most of it has to do with constructing things. I’ve built almost every piece of furniture in our house, I sew most of my clothes and I’ve just recently taken up welding. I can’t wait to see what I can make with this new hobby.
BR: Gracias Triney for taking the time to chat with us.
Romeo & Juliet will be at Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court, Wesport, CT from October 31 to November 19. For more information visit www.westportplayhouse.org or call 203-227-5137.
Bessy Reyna is a member of the Board of Directors of CT Critics’ Circle