Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
More than 60 years after its debut, ‘Cat’ may be Tennessee Williams’ most contemporary play. When Georgia Ensemble Theatre brought its production, directed by James Donadio, to Atlanta this season, critics and theater goers discovered that the play’s knife-edge wit and complex personal drama resonate deeply with 21st Century audiences.
In a candid Q&A, Joe Sykes, who played Brick in the highly successful GET production, talks about Brick’s tangled sexuality, Tennessee Williams, and the delights of dysfunctional families. Read the interview.
“This Cat sizzles….”
“…the ideal casting of two of Atlanta’s brightest actors in the pivotal roles of Maggie and Brick: Kate Donadio MacQueen and Joe Sykes. And what a difference their terrific performances make in the grand scheme of such well-worn material.
“Whenever MacQueen and Sykes are on stage, this ‘Cat’ sizzles. They work off one another exceedingly well, with a sexual tension that’s palpable and a genuine chemistry….
“Thankfully for the Georgia Ensemble show, great acting is great acting, and Sykes and MacQueen pull it off with a transcending conviction. — Bert Osborne, Atlanta Journal Constitution
“Sykes as Brick does a superior job of making the hopelessly alcoholic Brick a sympathetic character, one who is tortured by the betrayal of both his best friend (for dying – one may presume suicide) and his wife for sleeping with him (if only once).” — Hatcher Hurd, Forsyth Herald.
The Hero’s Wife
The Hero’s Wife by Aline Lathrop is an intimate portrayal of the disturbing and heartbreaking effects of PTSD, told from a wife’s point of view. Directed by Rachel May and presented by Synchronicity Theatre, Atlanta, in a Joint World Premiere with 16th Street Theater, Chicago. Starring Rebeca Robles and Joe Sykes, who plays Cameron, a Navy Seal newly returned from combat. Photos by Jerry Siegal.
“Two professional actors at the top of their form…. Mr. Sykes turns in a powerful, moving performance. When he admits, ‘I don’t know how to be in the world,’ and especially when he almost breaks down as he realizes what he has done to his wife, it’s a visceral, heartbreaking moment.” —Manning Harris, Atlanta INTOWN
“Sykes’ powerful physical presence is softened by Cameron’s desire to leave behind the roughness from his military career…. This play leaves no room for awkward or disingenuous connections; Robles and Sykes deliver authenticity.” —Susan Angeline, ATSATL
“The Hero’s Wife shows the resilience and heartbreak of two young adults attempting to be their bravest selves for each other”—Susan Angeline, ATSATL
Joe talks about the play, the impact it’s had on his life, and joint work Synchronicity is doing with United Military Care to open up more conversations about life after deployment for veterans and their families. This production required a fight choreographer and an intimacy choreographer. Why? Can a play about PTSD be funny too? Read the interview.
Those Who Deserve to Die (2019)
Those Who Deserve to Die, directed by Bret Wood, is a thriller that subverts the formula of the revenge film. Unhinged and unconventional, it turns on a series of vicious murders—precise, ghastly. Yet the killer is reluctant. The ghost of a vengeful 10-year-old girl guides the killer, and she will not be denied. This violent and nihilistic thriller is not for the faint hearted.
Something Different: Ensemble Theater Now
Joe Sykes joined the cast of a new cutting-edge ensemble play by Steve Yockey—Reykjavik at Actor’s Express. Audiences were shocked, disoriented, and tearful.
What’s happening here? Ensemble theater has changed—offbeat scripts, fractured story lines, ambiguous characters whose stories spill over from one scene into another. Plays like Reykjavik explore what it means to be human with new structures and a whole new vocabulary. The result? Big choices and big risks for actors. Read more…
Gil Eplan-Frankel (top left); Joe Sykes and Michael Vine (right); Stephanie Friedman in Reykjavik. Photos by Casey Gardner
About Joe Sykes
“Joe is fierce, vulnerable, sexy and magnetic. As an actor, he is a dream. He is wildly funny and incredibly warm… He digs and digs and digs until he mines each moment. Then he digs a little more.” — Rachel May, producing artistic director, Synchronicity Theatre
“One of Joe’s greatest strengths is his versatility. He attacks with equal skill very masculine alpha characters along with more sensitive and vulnerable characters. His range never ceases to surprise me.” — Freddie Ashley, artistic director, Actor’s Express.
“I’ve seen Joe range from caregiver to predator in the course of one show. He’s an incredibly versatile performer. His work is exceptional.” — Lara Smith, managing director, Dad’s Garage Theatre. Read more about what directors say…
Versatile. Oh yeah. Joe has moved from edgy, unsettling dramas like Wolves and Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo to the family musical Winnie-the-Pooh. In film, Joe vaulted from farce in Good Grief Suicide Hotline to lethal menace in Those Who Deserve to Die. He famously sacrificed vital body parts in the cult horror favorite V/H/S (Amateur Night) and later seduced a much-loved character in the popular BET televison series Being Mary Jane.
There’s a humanity about Joe that can’t be faked. He’s comfortable with the unsettling ambiguities of life. When audiences see parts of themselves in the bigot Karl in Clybourne Park or look to Death for comfort in Steve Yockey’s disturbing play Pluto, that’s Joe. That’s Joe making it ok for us to look into the raw, damaged places. Maybe it’s even funny. Joe can do that. Of course, if he’s playing a psychopath, it’s unnerving. Read Joe’s bio.
Angels in America
Outstanding! Winner Suzi Bass Awards: Outstanding Acting Ensemble! Outstanding Director! Outstanding Production!
“A resourceful ensemble of eight actors, each playing several roles, excels…. (Joe Sykes is) … outstanding. Besides truly registering as the tortured Joe, Sykes offers fleeting kicks, too, as the incarnation of a prior Prior Walter, and even a mechanical diorama mannequin.”—Bert Osborne, Atlanta Journal Constitution