Cast Catch-Up: Michael Bates

Welcome to the third in a five part series, Catch Catch-Up, where the wonderfully talented cast of BUG will be sharing their thoughts on the script, the rehearsal process, their characters, and everything in between.



So you get the script. You know of the writer but haven’t seen any of his other work. He started out as an actor. He has won awards for his writing. His plays have been made into films. Successful films with big stars. So you’re expecting a well-made play with some snappy dialogue and engaging, performable characters. You start reading and yes, these are very performable, human characters with funny, smart dialogue but there’s a little more going on. Great. You’re interested in these misfits, these outsiders. Okay, these people are a little off kilter and the two central characters are not necessarily the type of people you would put together as a couple. Even better.

You read on and even though the characters are a little unusual you start to like them, you start to root for them. So you keep reading and more characters are introduced and it starts to get even stranger and more dangerous. It keeps moving further and further away from where you thought it was going. Then the character you are going to be playing enters this world and it gets even stranger. And so it goes. You finish reading the script, you fix yourself a stiff drink and try and digest what you just read. Yes, it’s a well-made play with edgy, articulate, fascinating characters. But it’s so much more. Above all else what strikes you is that it’s a searing study of dysfunctional relationships, the type of relationships where the love is a sickness.

Then you start thinking how the hell are we going to stage this play? Who the hell is this character that you will have to bring to life? What the hell was Tracy Letts thinking? Who is this guy? You do a bit more research and you watch a few interviews with Letts on YouTube speaking about his writing and acting and he seems quite normal, a little genteel, perhaps. Then you stumble across a video of him giving a presentation entitled How to Live a Creative Life in which he advises people to lie, steal and masturbate in order to be more creative. And with a wry smile playing across your lips it all starts to make a little more sense.