Chris Ginesi is co-founder and Executive Director of Narrow Way Stage Company, having produced, directed or acted in over 50 productions. A Sonoma native, Chris has been seen on many stages around the county for the majority of his life. Currently, he is directing “The Lonesome West” as part of the Sonoma Theatre Alliance season. The production closes with closes with four shows this weekend.
Sun: This is the first year in the Sonoma Theatre Alliance for the Narrow Way Stage Company. Tell us about the group.
Chris Ginesi: NWSC was founded in 2005 by Nick Christenson, myself and my brother Tony Ginesi. We are all still part of the group, with myself as executive director, Nick as artistic director and Tony as our technical director. “The Lonesome West” is our 29th production, and we always strive to present honest, progressive and provocative theatre to our audiences. We have gained critical recognition, repeatedly landing on North Bay theatre critic David Templeton’s top 10 lists, and we also have an award for outstanding cultural contribution from the city of Santa Rosa.
Sun: And it all started right here…
CG: I was raised in Sonoma and started acting with Broadway Bound Kids at the age of 10. I continued acting in local productions throughout my middle and high school years.performing many times in Andrews Hall. it is exciting to be performing there again. I studied theatre at the Santa Rosa JC,, and spent years studying the Meisner technique of acting, which is the artistic foundation of my approach to theatre.
Sun: What drew you to this play?
CG: I believe Martin McDonagh to be one of the best living playwrights of our time. His dialogue is crackling with a passion and fire and wit that is rarely seen. He writes beautifully about the ugliest topics, and each and every one of his characters, underneath it all, have undying passion and heart. This particular play tackles so many issues that are deeply personal and highly important in daily life, including faith, love and redemption. I knew I wanted a crack at producing this play the moment I saw it, some years ago at SSU.
Sun: In the roles of the brothers, you have two brothers….
CG: And in the roles of technical design and directing we have two brothers as well, myself and my brother Tony! On stage, the Christenson brothers are powerhouses and watching the two of them go at it is something to behold. Jon, playing the younger brother Valene, is in his first stage role since high school, and he brings a surprisingly refined talent to the piece. Coupled with his raw power, and the undeniable acting chops of brother Nick, we have a battle of brotherly love for the ages.
Sun: The work is quite an emotional ride. What have some of the challenges been in bringing that to the stage?
CG: Actors are willing, on a daily basis, to experience a full gamut of emotions and situations that most people wish to never experience in their entire lives. That is always a challenge, but all of my actors are so willing to go there, To add on top of that things like fight choreography and dialect, and to still be able to truthfully live in these heightened circumstances is a feat. I’m lucky to have the Christenson brothers, but I also have two extremely talented actors in Clint Campbell, playing Father Welsh, and Nora Summers, playing Girleen. The four of them have made my job so much fun. It’s a joy to watch them every night.
Sun: What do you think of the theatre space itself?
CG: It’s absolutely beautiful, and I hope that everyone in the town of Sonoma will come and see for themselves. I want to thank the Rotary, SCC, STA and the town of Sonoma for making it possible. We’ve got it all right here now. A fantastic space, a strong foundation in STA, and talent up the wazoo. It’s truly a Sonoma gem.