Interview by Gayle Worland, The Wisconsin State Journal
Photo by Zane Williams
Nicholas Harazin plays Philo T. Farnsworth in Forward Theater Company's upcoming production of "The Farnsworth Invention," a play by the Emmy- and Oscar-winning writer Aaron Sorkin of "West Wing" and "The Social Network" fame.
Actor Nicholas Harazin.
I play Philo T. Farnsworth in Forward Theater Company's production of "The Farnsworth Invention" by Aaron Sorkin, Nov. 3-20 in the Playhouse at Overture. Tickets are $10 to $37 and can be purchased at overturecenter.com. For details, see forwardtheater.com.
You will not find another evening of theater like this: A cast of 16 performing over 70 roles. A story that spans 1915 to 1969. A look back to a time before mass communication was done with the click of a button, before computers and iPads, before satellites and space travel. Compared to the way we interact with modern media, Sorkin's play takes you back to the technological equivalent of man emerging from the cave and discovering fire.
I studied theater at the University of Minnesota, but I would say the bulk of my theater training came from just doing it. I have worked across the Midwest at various theaters, all of them different. And while the things I studied at university are helpful, I find that with each new project I work on, I am forced to develop a new set of skills. For this particular production, I took violin lessons, went back to eighth-grade science to study the periodic table of elements, and helped my father take apart an old tube television, while describing what each particular piece was, and what it did.
David Daniel and James Ridge of American Players Theatre are both truly inspirational men. But in recent years the person who has been the most inspirational to me is my 3-year-old nephew Tristin. I think you forget how to play when you grow up — you become confined by the "rules." But when you are that young, you make your own rules.
Tristin and I will play "cars," "bridges," or "rockets" for an entire afternoon. And it is amazing to watch him be present in every moment, enjoying it as though it were the first time he has ever played these games. When he succeeds, it is true happiness. When he fails or gets hurt, it is true tragedy. When he thinks I am cheating, it is true injustice.
It is inspiring to be reminded by a 3-year-old how fully you can live your life from day to day. It may look manic if I were to bring that to my daily life at my age — but why not bring it on stage?
Come to The Farnsworth Invention with an open mind and heart. Aaron Sorkin reveals in this play the essence of invention — the spark that ignites the flame — pushing each of us onto the next thing, whether it be a marriage, a family, a new life in a new country, becoming CEO of a company, leaving a legacy when you're gone, or simply creating a device that will send and receive electrons, and in doing so, make the world smaller.