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Patricia Tallman Talks Returning to the Stage for Sci-Fest L.A.

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Patricia Tallman

If you’ve locked your eyes upon the 1990 remake of Night of the Living Dead, or been a hardcore fan of “Babylon 5,” then you’ve most likely seen the work of Patricia Tallman up close, and even her stunt-work in pics such as Creepshow 2, Wes Craven’s Shocker, and Jurassic Park make her an industry staple.

On May 24th, she’ll return to her theater roots with stage performances in the 2nd annual Sci-Fest L.A. We managed to grab a few minutes with this ever-so-inviting presence for an interview that sheds quite a bit of light on not just the performer, but the person as well – read on and enjoy!

Dread Central – What can you tell us about the event – what short will you be participating in, and what will your character be like?

Patricia Tallman – Well, this is Sci-Fest Los Angeles, and it’s the second year, and 2014 was such a huge hit. It’s a one-act-play festival, and we’re opening tonight (May 7th), and we’ll be running right through the 31st of May, and we’re the only festival of its kind on the planet. There will be two programs (A and B), and I’m in program B, and in program A we’ve got two world premiere productions – one is Neil Gaiman’s The Case of Four and Twenty Blackbirds, and the other is Clive Barker’s The Departed, which will open tonight, and we have over 60 actors in the festival, some of which you might know.

I’m in a play called A Logic Called Joe, and a quick synopsis is that it’s a play that’s behind the scenes of a radio show, set back in the old days. Eddie McClintock (“Warehouse 13″) plays my husband, and Veronica Cartwright (Alien) and Armin Shimerman (“Star Trek: Deep Space Nine“) are also in it with David Lawrence (“Heroes”) and Tim Russ (“Star Trek: Voyager”) – we’ve got an absolutely awesome cast. Also in program B in one short is Walter Koenig (Chekov from “Star Trek”), who was my nemesis in “Babylon 5,” and my short is comedy, which is exciting because I don’t normally get cast in comedies!

patricia tallman - Patricia Tallman Talks Returning to the Stage for Sci-Fest L.A.

DC – Due to the fact that you’ve got an extensive filmography, does the idea of a live script read in front of an audience make you nervous?

PT – Not at all – I started in theater – it was my first love, and I did that in New York for 10 years before I came out to L.A. I’m a classically-trained actor, and I went to Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, and yeah, I absolutely love it!

DC – So what kind of preparation goes into a live script read?

PT – The thing with this one is that it’s so comedic, we’ll be looking for every possible comedic moment, and we can do physical schtick because you’re watching it, which is the great thing. On radio, anyone can be THE voice if you’ve got the voice for it – I’m in my 50’s, and Eddie McClintock, who is playing my husband, is younger than I am, but so long as the chemistry on-stage is right, you get to have a whole other experience there. Pat Towne, who is our director, is hilarious, and I’m so excited to be working out comic bits with someone of his caliber, so this is going to be really awesome for me. We start rehearsals on Monday the 11th because we don’t open until the 24th, and the thing about L.A. is you’ve got all these actors who are working, so we have to deal with schedules that move fast, and we’ve got to be nimble when it comes to getting people in and out the door, so we rehearse on a short schedule, and it’s intense, and I love that kind of work.

DC – So your short opens up on the 24th – is that a one-time show, or will you be on a schedule?

PT – We’ll have a schedule of several nights, and on Memorial Day weekend, we call it “Invasion Weekend,” and you can see the entire program: all 10 shows.

DC – You’ve done both TV and film – do you have a preference as to which you’d like to remain consistent with?

PT – Oh, that’s hard – I think that the wonderful thing that’s going on in our industry today is all the new programming on Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu – that kind of thing, so it’s more internet-based, so I’d go with the internet. If I could go on a show like HBO’s “Game Of Thrones,” I could die happy.

DC – Lastly, aside from the Sci-Fest, what’s coming up in the future for you?

PT – I can’t tell you how much my life has changed over the past few years, and to be honest with you, 2 years ago I had a nervous breakdown. I kind of lost my shit, and everything I’d been working towards, and everything I thought I knew, I realized I didn’t know, and nothing was working. For a month or two, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, I lost 20 pounds, I cried all the time, and I was awkward in public – it was bad! So, the next year was very shaky – but I’ve been doing a lot of personal growth work – looking at what I do for a living, what I want to do, and what makes my heart think, and how the FUCK do I pay the bills? I keep coming back to the theater, which is perfect. I was in a play last year called Kaleidoscope, which is a Ray Bradbury piece, and I was actually playing a man’s role, so we didn’t change any of the words, so I became the lesbian astronaut in space, and I talked about my wife and children on Mars, and I LOVED that!

I also went to Bali and wrote a book, which was mostly a memoir, and I’d already written one about my time on “Babylon 5,” but this was more my Hollywood life – the stories, and I interwove the crash and burn – why did that happen? I’m still living that, so I don’t know what the wraparound is going to be, but it’ll have that journey of what it’s like for a creative person to live and have so many things going on. I’m also leading a writer’s retreat in Hawaii this September, and last year I went to a convention on the big island called Hawaii-Con, and it was a remarkable experience.

I’m not a science-fiction writer, I’m not a fiction writer, but I’ve grown up on those books – I’m one of those nerds, and I grew up on those stories. So the retreat is a way for the creative soul to get fed, and for camaraderie to exist, and for support to grow, and I create that environment for people – we’ve got so many things planned like mountain-biking, hiking in the rainforest, zip-lining and waterfalls, and in between I’ll be doing some work with the writers that come with me, and we’ll interact with the folks at Hawaii-Con, like writer Jane Espenson (“Battlestar Galactica”) – she’ll be working with us privately.

This is the direction that I’m going, and I’m sorry to be talking your ear off! Feel free to check out my Patricia Tallman Facebook page for more info as well as sci-fest.com for tickets – we’ve already sold out for the opening weekend, but you can get a discount ($5.00 off) if you order through that site!

sIR6IYjR49fgcbry p  MGXX0HbejbhodmH16299P2c.jpeg?zoom=1 - Patricia Tallman Talks Returning to the Stage for Sci-Fest L.A.

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