PETER: Now you know who you’re talking to? .
PETER: Kristin Griffith and Peter Maloney.
LEIGHA: That was going to be my first question, actually! Tell us a little about yourselves.
PETER: Hi, I’m Peter Maloney.
KRISTIN: And I’m Kristin Griffith
PETER: I’m from a little farming community in upstate New York. I’ve been in New York City now for fifty-two years as a professional actor
KRISTIN: And I am from Midland, Texas, but I’ve been in New York since 1971. I was there at Juilliard for four years, and then I’ve been a professional— I think I joined the union in ’76. I’ve been living in New York, with a brief, little sideline in L.A. for a couple years. We both spent some time there, but then we’ve been in New York working.
PETER: But I’ve been in the Union sixteen years longer—
KRISTIN: Yes well—
PETER: —than she—
KRISTIN: We’re catching up.
PETER: — because she’s younger than me you know.
LEIGHA: So, what projects are you working on here at SPACE?
KRISTIN: You know, EST: we come up here, and they give us whoever is working on— I mean it’s a very free form kind of retreat. People have an opportunity to write pieces of plays, so anybody who has something, we work on.
PETER: They asked us to come up for the weekend, and we had no idea what we’d be reading. They didn’t give us any advanced notice, or send us the plays or anything. So, we just arrived in this beautiful place, and then they— just before you read it or maybe you’ll have an afternoon, a couple of hours to read through it once before you read it more formally. They just throw you into it, you know? So, you pretty much read cold. You know I’d never read either one of these plays that I’ve read so far before I got here. We’re here to serve the playwright. That’s what we’ve done for decades, really. Whenever the playwright needs help hearing the play for the first time, we’re here to help them if we’re not otherwise occupied. So up here its just a question of going where they tell us. And helping out as much as we can. We’re pretty quick studies—
KRISTIN: Oh God yes. We’ve been doing this a long time.
PETER: We’re pretty good at taking the words and reading them for the first time and doing pretty well to indicate what the writer is trying to say. We have a good instinct for it, and a lot of practice.
LEIGHA: Besides doing readings, what else have you been doing on the farm?
KRISTIN: Well, I’m in that garden, rescuing the Secret Garden that’s been all overgrown, I’ve been releasing the trees, pulling weeds… I love that. It’s great.
PETER: We had to drive to Home Depot yesterday to get a new set of loppers so she can do better work in the garden.
KRISTIN: it was great fun. Great fun.
PETER: You know, I don’t have anything to do this morning, and I have a play I’m going to be doing in the fall, in New York. I have the text here, and I’ve been making notes about it. Questions I have about – it’s an Irish play— questions about how the play is going to be done, how we’re going to solve some of the technical problem it presents, and just acquainting myself with the text. It’s a two character play with a tremendous amount of lines for me to learn. And so that’ll be in the fall, but I’m starting now to read it and read it and read it, to acquaint myself with the text and the words. Hopefully, the osmosis will put me ahead of the game when rehearsals begin. Its kind of like— the odd language, the Irish writing is different than America writing and so, like Shakespeare, you better be ahead of the game when you start rehearsals where you’ll get behind real quick.
LEIGHA: So, this play is what’s coming up next for you?
PETER: In the fall, I’m supposed to do this play, yeah. But, in the meantime, we’re moving. We just bought a house in the country about an hour away from the city, its about halfway between Ryder Farm and New York City, and that’s where we’ll be moving to in September.
LEIGHA: And what projects are coming up next for you Kristin?
KRISTIN: I’ve just not been doing a lot because I’m moving. And I’ve been doing readings of things. There’s a play that I read a couple times at Playwrights Horizons that people are just saying is a wonderful play, by Jessica Dickey, so we’ll see what comes of that.
LEIGHA: Okay last question: if you could be reincarnated as any farm animal, what would it be and why?
PETER: Wow oh— well I’ve been fascinated by roosters. I think the third play I ever wrote was about a rooster on a farm, a very aggressive rooster who we knew personally, who finally had to be shot because of his aggressiveness.
KRISTIN: So why would you want to be a rooster?
PETER: I don’t know… king of the hill?
KRISTIN: Well, that’s true.
PETER: Lots of attractive hens…
KRISTIN: Well I certainly wouldn’t be a hen.
PETER: Well, what would you be?
KRISTIN: Oh, I don’t know. I think I’d be an old barn cat. Or a swallow, a barn swallow. Or a bat! Does that count as a farm animal? It’s on the farm.
LEIGHA: Oh it definitely counts.
PETER: Anyways, its great to be here on the farm. You have the freedom in your free moments to enjoy the beauty of the place. I love sitting under a tree.
KRISTIN: It’s also nice when there’s the casual time when you don’t have to run off and do something in the city, and you can talk with the writers. You can talk about the shapes of the plays… It’s just a very relaxed atmosphere.
PETER: And see people you haven’t seen in a while. I mean I’ve been having conversations with people I haven’t seen in a year or more. Because they happened to show up the same weekend as me. We were asked to be here the same time
KRISTIN: It’s just that relaxed time to sit around and talk with other actors and writers.
PETER: We’ve been members of Ensemble Studio Theater— I’ve been there about thirty-five years, Kristin not so long, but for a long time—
KRISTIN: For thirty or so.
PETER: Well not so long as me! You’re younger than me. Which I keep emphasizing.
KRISTIN: I know, I know. We’ve been married thirty-something years—
PETER: Thirty-three years this Christmas day, I thought.
KRISTIN: That’s a long time.
PETER: So it’s a community with a long history. And we go long times without seeing each other… because that’s just the way the theatre is. It’s always nice to run into people you’ve worked with before and get reacquainted.
LEIGHA: Do you know who we’ll be up there when you come up?
KRISTIN: Well sometimes they tell us whose plays they’re reading, and sometimes, I mean it doesn’t seem so much this year, but sometimes somebody wants you particularly to be in to put that character on or see how it goes through you… But usually no. We’re pretty flexible, we do a lot of things, we’re sort of all-purpose people. We can play anything pretty much so they bring us up to do anything. Which is great. Just lovely.
Interviewed by Leigha Sinnott.