When you see Richard Kenyon’s work, you can’t help but get inspired. The LA-based, award-winning director has been a master of his craft for over 25 years.
From working on some of the biggest short films, including the award-winning short “Insomniac”, to larger productions in theatre and film, Kenyon has experienced it all.
As the industry starts seeing new trends arise due to the pandemic, we caught up with Kenyon to hear his thoughts on what’s to come, his upcoming book and what he has been doing during this time.
- With over 25 years experience in the entertainment industry, what have been the major trends and changes that you have seen over the years?
The internet was a huge boost for artists. This gave us a platform to share our voice and our work. A chance to connect to our audience in such a different and unique way. This democratization has allowed artists to create and distribute their own work which has led to more experimentation. As a theatre artist I have seen a trend to diversity in casting that is really exciting and encouraging, and also more openness to perform classical works without rigid gender roles and in diverse voices.
- What have been some of your favorite projects to work on over the course of your career here in Los Angeles?
I’ve been very fortunate since moving here to work on a number of really exciting and surprising projects. I shot a piece for an organization that was working to stop sex trafficking. That was a really powerful and exciting shoot where I worked briefly with Jenna Elfman. I also co-wrote and directed a short film called A Girl’s Guide To Drowning which was based on Shakespeare’s character Ophelia. We shot it in the Angeles National Forest by our house and it was wonderful to be working here in LA. I also recently directed a production of Much Ado About Nothing with a great cast of comedians, many other Canadians living in LA, and that was a great experience.
- What about the city of Los Angeles, and Hollywood, just inspires artists like yourself?
For me it’s the juxtaposition of this place. It’s unlike anywhere in the world. Each city block has its own style, its own fashion. If you take the Bradbury building as an example in downtown LA. It’s this amazing building with a history from the late 1800’s which has been restored to its full beauty but across the street is the Million Dollar Theater a totally different kind of design and then right down the block is Grand Central Market. All so different but somehow they all fit together beautifully. That inspires me. I am a huge fan of libraries though and there is nothing greater than being at the downtown library in LA.
- Directing, producing, acting… you do it all. But if you had to choose one “title” which would it be?
I’d have to choose directing. I love directing so much. I adore actors whether it’s on film or a play. There is something incredibly fulfilling when you get to work with so many different people and departments. I love the challenges directing offers.
- You work closely with developing projects based on Shakespeare’s masterpieces. With the Shakespeare Center here in Los Angeles as well as the Shakespeare Festival that takes place here each year, where do you see the development and growth of what Shakespeare is all about adapting into as time goes forward and why is it important for us to always remember his work/words?
I think in the coming years we’ll start to see more diverse casts and voices performing Shakespeare because his works translate across cultures. I just directed a shortened version of Troilus and Cressida with two Filipino actors as the title characters. It was a wonderful experience as they shared with me stories and anecdotes of their lives. They both really affected me and together we were able to craft a show that was powerful in tone and incredibly relevant to today. Different cultures and people of color have extraordinary stories to tell and they will explore their experiences through the words and works of Shakespeare. Shakespeare has always been a wonderful vessel for artists to explore and dissect. Pick any Shakespeare play and it has an uncanny relevance to today. Shakespeare’s plays are a good reminder of how much we are similar as people and how basic human needs and emotions are timeless and unifying.
- How have you been handling the COVID-19 situation?
Pretty well. Maintaining I think. Staying positive. Reading lots of Shakespeare and Bernard Shaw, the Irish playwright. I have been bringing actors together at least once a month to perform readings of Shakespeare on Zoom, we rehearse once and perform. It is has been a life line and a way to stay connected. I even confused my 15 year old son to play Arthur in King John, but I do miss my colleagues and the work. I miss the chats about mundane things. I do want to hear about the minutiae of the burnt bagel. In a strange way that’s very comforting. I find myself longing for that.
- What are you most looking forward to after the pandemic calms down here in Los Angeles?
Hanging out with my friends, lots of hugs and sitting in a live theater watching a play I’ve directed. That’s what I’m thinking about these days. When the first show ends and the actors bow how will our audience react? I know I’ll be bawling.
- What upcoming projects can we look out for by you?
My work continues on my screenplay adaptation of Measure For Measure by Shakespeare. I’m also writing a book about how I work with the First Folio of Shakespeare’s works. I am also planning on directing all 8 of Shakespeare’s history plays for The Shakespeare Club of Pasadena.