Mark R. Neufang
Your role in NEXT FALL:
Briefly tell us a little about yourself (job, hobbies, passions, unique talents, etc).
I work as Director of Operations for Diverse and Resilient, a fantastic public health nonprofit agency serving diverse LGBT populations both in Milwaukee and statewide. My passions are theatre and baking. (I whip up a pretty mean tiramisu, if you ask me.) I chronicle many of my baking endeavors and adventures on my Word Press blog, Neufangled Desserts. I recently tested recipes for the popular bakery, Baked, in Brooklyn, and will be attending their Manhattan store opening and book launch during tech week of NEXT FALL (thanks to the patience and understanding of the cast and crew). I turn 40 this November (the same age Adam is when he meets Luke) and I'm looking immensely forward to a decade in which I travel more!
Have you worked with Tt before?
NEXT FALL is my 5th show with Tt. I performed in CORPUS CHRISTI (Simon), [title of show] (Jeff), THE NORMAL HEART (Ned Weeks), and THE TEMPERAMENTALS (Harry Hay). I love Tt and its mission dearly - so much so that I keep coming back and auditioning, and became a Tt board member (Secretary) within the past year and built this website!
Tell us a little bit about your character in NEXT FALL.
Not to state the obvious, but Adam is really a very human person. I think anyone can identify with him - he's not an unusual personality by any means. He is flawed and not afraid to be upfront and honest about it. He's also at a precarious, decisive point in his life where he's trying to discern where he is going, where he's been, and what it all means. Luke, who is 15 years younger, suddenly enters Adam's life and sets many things in motion that he hasn't forced himself to confront before. He could be enduring a mid-life crisis, but I think what he is experiencing throughout this story could happen to anyone at any indeterminate point. Adam's vulnerable. He can come off as a obsessive nut with a little bit of a jerk-ish side to him, but my challenge in portraying him is to avoid making that harsh side of him obnoxious, because it wouldn't be true to what the playwright intends him to be.
What do you appreciate most about NEXT FALL?
It is noted in the director's notes at the start of the script that "In the end, these are six relatable human beings in search of some kind of grace". I really keyed into this when working with this script, and in the process of getting to know these very multi-faceted characters. They each have their own story and struggles they are dealing with. In many ways, NEXT FALL may be a play about faith and that clash between belief and non-belief, but it's not religious or preachy. It's about the journeys in life we all need to be brave enough to face. It's ultimately this really well-crafted dance between characters who are all lost and just finding their way with one another, determining where they really fit in the grand scheme of things.
Why should audiences come see NEXT FALL?
It seems cliché to just say this, but NEXT FALL truly runs the gamut of emotions. I think any theatergoer can find something to appeal to them in this play. It's a drama, and you may shed some tears - but there are moments where it's so comedic, you will want to laugh right out loud (and please DO). It is very funny in spots. I think the script is really wonderful. There's a natural feel to it. The conversation doesn't feel scripted at all, and the emotions are very real and relatable. I'm so thrilled to bring this to the Milwaukee stage, and with such an amazingly talented cast: Amanda, Donna, Jim, Kevin, and Raymond - all under Mark E's direction - tell the story beautifully. I think anyone coming to see it will be inspired and walk away with lots of good things to ponder... which good theatre should do, right?