Moxie Theatre’s latest offering, The (curious case of the) Watson Intelligence, is a time-jumping story of our relationship with technology. The play, written by Madeleine George and directed by Delicia Turner Sonnenberg, weaves together different stories of different Watson’s throughout time and, as actor Eddie Yaroch told me, the whole show is “just a lot of fun.”
Yaroch, who stars in the show alongside Jo Anne Glover and Justin Lang, was last seen in Moxie’s Enron, where he won the 2014 Craig Noel Award for Outstanding Featured Performance in a Play. Since then, he took some time off to do some writing (he’s got a screenplay that’s a “modern take on The Christmas Carol” among others) and spend time with his family. Things that he couldn’t do while he “was constantly in rehearsal,” he said.
But with Watson Intelligence and another show that starts rehearsing in January, he’s back in full force. I talked to Eddie recently about Watson, winning the Craig Noel award, San Diego theatre and more!
Eddie Yaroch: My character is a bitter ex-husband, jealous ex-husband who is running for city auditor and has the tech guy work on my computer. In the meantime, he hires the guy to spy on his wife to see what she’s up to.
In the other timeline, I play a Sherlock Holmsian-type villain who is building his own prototype replica of his wife because he finds that she’s not there enough for him.
There’s a lot of flipping back and forth and it’s fun because the constant costume changes and it riffs on human connection. How is technology taking away from actual human contact, replacing face-to-face interaction with essentially robots or technology and the ultimate unsatisfying way into that when you’re denied that human connection?
I was drawn, first of all to the Sherlock Holmes part of it because I’m a huge Sherlock Holmes fan and I struggle with technology so I can relate to this guy. I got off Facebook because I thought that I was losing some of that interpersonal contact, that satisfying interpersonal contact and replacing it with the use of pseudo-contact.
I get to play a character who’s a bit bombastic and outrageous, but he’s so sure of himself. And he’s a bit of an egomaniac. And it’s not that I relate to that, but I love playing those characters. He’s outspoken and is so sure of himself. He’s a lot of fun to play and I think a lot of fun for the audience too.
This isn’t your first time at Moxie. I remember seeing you in Enron.
Eddie Yaroch: That was the first show that I actually won an award for.
I was gonna ask you about that. How did you find out that you were nominated?
Eddie Yaroch: They did a general announcement on their website, they don’t really let you know in advance. They post it on their website, San Diego Critics Circle. And I think they do that at the very end of December, early January.
I got it for Outstanding Featured Performer in a Play. That was great. I was just happy to be nominated. I’ve been nominated for part of an ensemble. You feel that you’re part of an ensemble, at least I do all the time and so when I was nominated for this singular role, part of you goes, “Wow, what about the rest of them? What about the rest of the cast?” Because I couldn’t have done it alone.
But it was nice, I don’t want use the word validation… I guess recognition is a better word. It’s nice to be recognized. We put it out there and we’re not making a ton of money, we have our day jobs. It becomes a permanent thing to put on your resume that will never go away, “I won for this.”
And that is a rewarding feeling but now you gotta live up to it. “Oh, there’s the award-winning actor. Great. We do you got for me, Mr.?”
Does it make any things easier for you? Are you able to get tables at restaurants now? I’m kidding.
Eddie Yaroch: Well McDonald’s, shortly after I won, did go to their all the breakfast at my request.
I saw that and I want to personally thank you for that.
Eddie Yaroch: You bet.
I guess because this town, this theater community is so tight-knit that everybody knows some way or another. Even if they haven’t seen the show that you are nominated or won for, that kind of puts you in a select group of nominees and word gets out. So I might get called into audition at the La Jolla Playhouse because your name is out there. “Oh, let’s try this guy out.”
And ironically, after winning that I decided to take most of this year off. This is the first show I’ve done since Enron. I’d done four or five things the previous year and Enron was just the icing on the cake. And after a full year of doing stuff, I forgot what was like to watch Netflix or read a book. So, I took a little time to do some writing, try to work on getting an agent for my screenplay. Little things that I couldn’t do while I was constantly in rehearsal. So, taking the time off was a reward in itself. Theater will always be a first love, it’ll always be there and me going away after being in five things is not gonna be… I don’t want to kill myself. And then landing this role at Moxie again is like serendipity.
I would imagine that after winning the award. It’s got to put a little more pressure on you when you auditioning.
Eddie Yaroch: In any situation, I try to put extra pressure on myself. Whether it’s like opening night or anything like that. I always think it’s just another audition, just another rehearsal.
The award is done and gone, you can’t rest on that. You can’t rely on it to give you your reputation. I think the reputation comes from consistent work and working as a unit, as an ensemble. If you start looking at me like an award-winning actor then it’s like they lose sight of what I’m doing in the moment.
Did you have a speech prepared?
Eddie Yaroch: Yeah little bit, I kind of had bullet points. It’s like you don’t want to go in unprepared. I didn’t expect to win but you have to be ready just in case. I wanted to be appreciative and genuine. So, yeah, I came in and with an idea. Making it personal, making it grateful for the support I got from Moxie and my director Jen Thorn, the cast and wife and stepdaughter. I got everybody involved. And you have to do it under 30 seconds. If you can.