Dave Belden brings some very diverse characters to life in Motel 666. No stranger to horror, he has found a way to add a comedic edge to some of the more terrifying tales.
Do you consider yourself a horror fan? What is your favorite genre of horror?
I don’t really identify as a horror fan, even though I’ve done quite a few horror-themed shows and films. I really enjoy being part of a production; the fake blood and violence/combat are a lot of fun, and I’m especially interested in the psychological aspects. I’m really drawn to any horror that uses humor.
What was the first time you encountered horror in entertainment? Was it a book, a movie, a play or something else?
The first thing that springs to mind is seeing The Wizard of Oz as a kid. I think I was heavily impacted by the malevolent trees, the flying monkeys, the witches, the wizard, and the general feeling of trying to survive as the world around you is crumbling.
Does acting in a horror piece present any unique challenges or opportunities? Have you done any horror theatre before, or is this your first time? What is your favorite part about being in a horror piece?
One of the great things about a horror piece is the freedom. At the same time, I keep catching myself doing essentially an imitation of things I’ve seen before, so I’m continually trying to make it unique and personal to me. I’ve played Dr. Spalanzani in two different adaptations of ETA Hoffman’s The Sandman. He’s an “evil” scientist, but he really just wants to find love and make the world a better place, doesn’t he? One of my favorite roles was narrating/acting in Poe’s Tell-Tale Heart with the puppet masters of Blair Thomas & Co. I got to be manipulated by the puppeteers and interact with other puppets (including a puppet-version of me) on a small purpose-built proscenium stage. There was also a chamber group playing a fantastic score by Mark Messing.
How have motels played a role in your life?
One of the sadder things about America in 2015 is the decline of the family-owned motel. They’ve become homogenized by corporations, and have lost almost all personality (which is its own kind of horror, I suppose). I have a great memory of visiting Mammoth Cave in Kentucky back in the early 90s. We stayed at a small, private motel that had probably been built in the 50s or 60s. The owners were mystified that one of their rooms had been trashed by “a man who stays here frequently.” The other interesting tidbit is that they were a Korean couple, probably in their early 30s, and the woman was a classical pianist. There was a beautiful black baby grand crammed into the fake wood-paneled lobby. Their hope in coming to America was that she would have more playing opportunities. And here they were, the proprietors of a run-down motel in the middle of the country. I wonder where they are today.
If you could take on any role in any horror tale what would it be and why?
There are a few Shakespeare characters that come to mind; man, did he understood the human mind.
What is the one thing that scares you the most?
Motel 666 is OPEN and runs through June 28 – get tickets here! Performances will be held at the DCASE Storefront Theatre, 66 E. Randolph Street, with shows Thursday–Saturday at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2:00pm.