Psych’s James Roday on the State of Los Angeles Theater

Actor James Roday

What does James Roday do when his hit USA show, Psych, is on hiatus? He acts, writes and directs for his theater company, Red Dog Squadron.

The company is currently performing, Greedy. Roday is directing the tale of five people who struggle with greed, hope, desire and integrity in the wake of an emailed plea for money that promises big returns.

The LA Times talked with him about the state of Los Angeles theater.

You did attend New York University’s Experimental Theatre Wing. What monologues did you audition with?

The soda shop scene in “Our Town,” and Hamlet’s “Get thee to a nunnery.”

Kinda stuck with the classics.

Well, I’d just done “Hamlet” so I was pretty sure I had the lines down.

What’s the different between doing theater in L.A. versus NYC?

You get away with a lot more in L.A. because no one’s playing attention. Not having to pay for things. Cheating your way around royalties. There’s not a microscope on you here. We have a hall pass until someone catches on.

There’s a lot of argument about the quality of L.A. theater. Discuss.

The key is not to create unrealistic expectations. Until there is enough consistently good theater, whether you see the show at El Centro or the Blank, we’ll be fighting a certain perception. In New York, you can see four bad shows in a row and you don’t hold it against the community. Here, you see two bad shows in a row and you won’t go again until someone you know is in a play.

What’s the solution?

Companies should collaborate more. The notion of competition in theater in this town is ridiculous. You see another company doing great work and the response should be, “What can we do to help?” The theater community here is always going to be a small one. You can only change the culture one show at a time.

Greedy is playing at the El Centro Theater through January 29th. For tickets, click here.

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