This Spotlight focuses on multi-talented actor, singer, director, composer, teacher, and sound designer Doug Mattingly, most recently involved with the production of Sarah Ruhl's Dead Man's Cell Phone at Little Fish Theatre in San Pedro.
Shari Barrett (SB): What would you like readers to know about your theatrical background?
Doug Mattingly (Doug): I'm a stage and screen actor and have performed in dozens of plays, features, shorts, commercials, and videos. I've trained at the University of Southern California as an undergraduate where I also appeared in several student films at the time, at Shakespeare Theatre in Washington DC, and at Groundlings here in Los Angeles.
I recently won a Stage Scene LA Award for "Outstanding Lead Actor, Comedy - Intimate Theatre" for my performance as Jack in Theresa Rebeck's Dead Accounts at Little Fish Theatre.
In addition to acting, I also work as a theatre sound designer. Most recently I designed sound for Sarah Ruhl's Dead Man's Cell Phone at Little Fish, directed by my wife Branda Lock.
(SB): What production(s) were you involved with when word went out you needed to immediately postpone/cancel the show?
Doug: We had just completed our second weekend of four, of Dead Man's Cell Phone at Little Fish Theatre. I was able to see a design run of the show as well as tech week performances and opening night. My wife and I left for a trip to the Netherlands and Belgium the day after opening and were hoping to see a couple more performances upon returning. But unfortunately, the production closed just after we got back to the States. And given what has gone on since then, we were fortunate to get back when we did.
(SB): How was the shutdown communicated with the cast and production team?
Doug: I believe the director was notified via email and phone the day prior to the email notice going out to the cast and designers, followed by a public announcement. There was talk initially of live streaming or filming the performance, but events unfolded quickly to where social distancing measures made that impossible.
(SB): Are plans in place to present that production at a future date, or is the cancellation permanent?
(Doug): The broader question right now for many theaters, is if the theater will reopen at all. For now, Little Fish Theatre (LFT) is hosting a Virtual Stage where company members are posting various forms of content. Given my musical background as a performer, composer, and teacher, I've posted a video on songwriting which you can find at the above link. Other actors have posted comedy bits, short films, etc. There's even an ongoing web series happening with material from legendary television writer Ken Levine (M*A*S*H, Cheers, Frasier), prolific playwright Rich Orloff, best-selling author Syrie James (The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen), and LFT Company Members. A full slate of live stream readings, an original web series, classes, and interviews are now available on Little Fish Theatre’s Virtual Stage website.
(SB): What future productions on your schedule are also affected by the shutdown?
(Doug): As far as LFT is concerned, everything is up in the air. I also have some on-camera projects that are on hold. Another theatre company I am a member of, Infinite Jest Theatre Company, is working with the City of West Hollywood to mount readings and/or a production in September. As of now, plans are moving forward in the event that there is some return to normalcy by then.
(SB): I think everyone is hoping things return to normal as soon as possible. For now, how are you personally keeping the Arts alive while at home by using social media or other online sites?
Doug: I am an instructor at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in Hollywood, a performing arts college that offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts as well as a two-year conservatory certificate, so I am (very fortunately) still working. I am teaching all my courses online for the remainder of the semester, so I am engaging with young artists in live one-on-one video settings and by making prerecorded lesson videos and posting documents in Google Classroom.
I've also participated and will continue to participate in live online readings of screenplays and short theatrical plays. As a matter of fact, some actor friends and I are doing a reading of one of my feature screenplays on Sunday, April 26 at 4pm. We'll have an invited online audience as well! So that's a lot of fun! I will provide details for those interested in being part of the audience as the details become available.
I'll also be recording live solo music performances (I'm a guitarist and singer). My wife, who is a fantastic singer, and I have recorded a couple pieces as well and will be posting them in the coming days. I hope folks will check out Little Fish's Virtual Stage since there will be a lot of good material hitting there.
(SB): What thoughts would you like to share with the rest of the LA Theatre community while we are all leaving the Ghostlight on and promising to return back to the stage soon?
(Doug): I will have moments of feeling normal: practicing guitar, working on a screenplay, reading a play, making dinner, watching a movie, preparing for a class I'm teaching, and then remember what's going on outside my front door. That has been unsettling. It's like holding the two ideas in your mind that one day we'll shuffle off this mortal coil, yet you have to do the laundry.
It's tempting to think of this period as a "hold" or "pause" until we get back to real life. But for me, it's been important to remember that this IS real life. And so I've been doing my best to make the most of each day. I'm using the various video chat formats to keep in touch with friends and family and all that. I had a lockdowned birthday last week. I'll never forget that one, that's for sure.
As people all over the world shelter in place and stream hours and hours of movies and TV shows, creative people should be proud of the service we as a community are providing during this time. When folks watch a movie or TV show, they are enjoying the talents of actors, writers, set designers, directors, gaffers, cinematographers, composers, editors, makeup artists; not to mention the legions of drivers, caterers, accountants, agents, lawyers, union representatives who help make it all possible. We must always remember that artists are vital to our society and we need for all of us to go on creating.
(SB): You have so much going on. How can others stay in touch and/or find out more about you and your projects?
Doug: Folks can keep tabs on me here at my website, where I've recently updated my comedy and drama. And if you've watched all the Netflix, there are a few short films posted including the award winning "Grand Cru," I can also be found on Instagram as dougmattingly.
I'm also posting lots of videos on my YouTube channel. Half Life is a comedic drama about a 40ish struggling actor who returns to his hometown to settle the affairs of his estranged, overbearing father and to find a way to finally move into an adulthood that's been a long time coming. Anyone interested in being part of the audience for the reading of my screenplay Half Life can contact me through my website.
This article first appeared on Broadway World.