Directors’ Page

Working with Joe: What Directors Say…

Joe Sykes as parallel characters Karl and Steve in Clybourne Park, directed by Melissa Foulger. It earned a Suzi Bass Award for Best Ensemble Cast.

“As a performer, Joe is fierce, vulnerable, sexy and magnetic,” says director and theatre maker Rachel May.

“As an actor, he is a dream.  He is wildly funny and incredibly warm. He has a healthy ego and a power to disarm tension in the room. He takes care of his scene partner and looks for ways to give.

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Rachel May

“Joe is an extremely hard worker.  He digs and digs and digs until he mines each moment.  Then he digs a little more.  He has a sensitivity to the audience that allows him to stay rooted in his moments but utterly responsive to moment-to-moment energy in the room.

“Joe is an MVP and I adore working with him.”

— Rachel May, Producing Artistic Director and one of the original founders of Synchronicity Theatre

“He’s one of my most favorite actors to work with,” says director Melissa Foulger. “Working with Joe is always a pleasure.  His commitment  to his work—vocally, physically, and emotionally—is exemplary.”

Joe has strong training in a variety of acting techniques, Foulger says, including Viewpoints, Suzuki and Rasaboxes.  She and Joe often draw on his facility with these techniques to add dimension and nuance to characters.

Melissa Foulger

“I’ve had the pleasure of working with Joe on five different productions, including two world premieres, and, with every performance, I am astounded by the depth of his work—specifically his commitment to understanding and portraying of character.  For me, the most exciting work I’ve done with him has been his origination of roles for three different Steve Yockey world premiere shows.  He meticulously digs through the text for clues to his character and spends a great deal of care in crafting these characters for the first time….  He listens to the director (and playwright, in these cases) and works hard to expand the character far beyond what’s on the page.”

Finally, Joe is a great guy to work with, she says. “He always has a great attitude throughout the process, making it a lot of fun!”

— Award-winning director Melissa Foulger, “one of Atlanta’s finest directors,” is also the Artistic Director of DramaTech at Georgia Tech.

“One of Joe’s greatest strengths is his versatility,” says Freddie Ashley, artistic director at Actor’s Express. “He attacks with equal skill very masculine alpha characters along with more sensitive characters. His range never ceases to surprise me.”

On the subject of Joe’s work with playwright and producer Steve Yockey, who has premiered many critically acclaimed plays in Atlanta, Ashley says, “I think the relationship between Steve and Joe is extraordinary. Joe has an intuitive understanding of Steve’s work. And again, when you look at the roles Joe has originated in Steve’s plays, the range is extraordinary.

freddie“The same guy originated roles in Octopus AND Blackberry Winter? Wolves AND Pluto? Each character in those plays was so distinct and Joe’s work was highly particularized to each. Having that kind of long-term simpatico relationship between actor and playwright is exceptional and rare.”

— Artistic Director Freddie Ashley has garnered multiple Suzi Bass Awards for Actor’s Express and is a recipient of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Medallion of Excellence.

Joe and I have collaborated many times…” says director Kate Warner. “Part of the joy I have in working with Joe is his dogged pursuit of getting the material across to an audience. He will listen to the audience and adjust, adjust, adjust.

Kate Warner

“I have a deep trust in his process and I know Joe, in return, generously places his trust in me, which ultimately is a great way to work.”

— Kate Warner, director/producer/consultant

Lara Smith

“Joe Sykes is an incredibly versatile performer—I’ve seen him range from caregiver to predator in the course of one show. His work is exceptional and he brings such an infections energy of joy to all rehearsal processes.”

— Lara Smith, former managing director at Dad’s Garage Theatre, Senior Consultant Purpose Possible.

“I met Joe (and cast him in The Little Death) after hearing good things about his work in the local theatre scene,” says producer and independent film director Bret Wood. “After working with him on that project, I’ve kept up with his stage appearances—most memorably in Steve Yockey’s Wolves—and have been looking for an opportunity to collaborate with him again.”

fullsizeoutput_1c70Wood found the right match; Joe takes the lead as a vengeful loner in Those Who Deserve To Die (2019).

“Joe is an asset to the project in many ways,” Wood says. “Beyond his deep commitment to the role, and the compelling performance he has been delivering, he is a constant source of energy and morale-boosting throughout the long and sometimes arduous shoots. Anyone who has been on set is now familiar with the booming sound of Joe’s contagious laughter.” Read more…

—Bret Wood, Vice President/ Executive Producer at Kino Lorber. Independent filmmaker, documentarian, film curator, author and preservationist. 

See what the critics say about Joe…