Rising Tides: Elohim Peña

We first met Elohim when he signed up to participate in TEASE 2014.  In less than a year, we’ve seen him on stages all over the Twin Cities –  from Freshwater Theatre and Candid to Coup D’Etat and Forgotten Goddess. We’re pretty sure with his talent and captivating personality, it will only be a matter of time before you can’t swing a stick in this town without hitting Elohim.  This time he’s working with Frank Theatre on Love and Information.  You can catch his performance at the Ritz Theatre in Northeast Minneapolis now through February 22nd.

Elohim Peña


What drew you to theatre? 
I auditioned for one acts on a whim my senior year of high school, I had a great time, then did the spring play that same year. Then I drifted for a bit through my first couple of years until I took an elective acting class with Kurt Schweickhardt and I fell in love with acting. I started looking for schools and ended training at The William Esper Studio in New York. That was the first time in my life I felt like I was where I was supposed to be.
Love and Information has a really interesting structure from a script stand point – there are no delineated characters etc.  How was the process to create a story (or not create a story) from the text been?
Working on Love and Information has been an interesting project to say the least. At the audition – which I got thanks Joy Dolo – I was asked to do scenes with really funky, fun, and crazy direction. I was asked to do some scenes as a preacher, or a cheerleader, I walked out of the room feeling like I made a total fool of myself, which is always a good thing. Then when we started the rehearsal process we basically spent the first week at the table essentially re-auditioning. We read through it many times playing different scenes, or reversing scene rolls, then Wendy Knox our slick director began to incorporate circumstances and relationships and then we played around with those until we hit something that felt right for each scene.
Were there common themes the cast kept coming back to? 
We talked a BUNCH about the play trying to figure out if there were threads within each section, eventually we ended up deciding as a group what each sections theme was.
What has been the biggest challenge of Love and Information?
The technical part of this show has been the biggest challenge; because of costume changes, scene changes, and the brevity of the scenes we as actors have to be ready to go at the top of the scene. It’s also challenging to have to prepare for your “moment before” when you have seconds between changing costume and getting back out on stage.

Elohim flashing a smile at the initial read through. Photo courtesy of Frank Theatre.

What have you found inspiring lately?  What have you seen/heard/read that made you want to go out and create art?
I saw Rehearsing Failure at the Southern Theatre and I was taken aback at how amazing non-traditional theatre can be. The cast was incredibly talented, mixing, live music, performance art, with theatre. That performance really made me want to go out and make something.

What prompts you to audition for someone/something?
To be honest just auditioning to audition is something I find really important. The truth about being an actor is that auditioning is the job. I mean I still look for projects that I feel would have a part for me, but as an actor you have so little control over what you’re cast in that you have to put yourself out there constantly. Look at Chris Hemsworth; this guy is Thor, but he had to go out and actively seek Ron Howard to audition for Rush. There are very few actors that have the luxury of waiting for the work to come them.  For this project I was lucky enough that Joy reached out to me and through her I reached out to Wendy to audition for this play. I was just happy that someone thought I could be part of this.
What do you hate most about the (audition, rehearsal) process?
What do you like the most about (audition, rehearsal) process?
Where do you want to be a fly on the wall? 
At the pentagon or in the oval office, I want to know all of America’s dirty laundry.

If you were stuck in a Lifeboat what would you need to have with you? 
Someone to spend the time with, preferably someone I can discuss time travel paradoxes with.
Performances of Love and Information are January 30 – February 22, Thurs-Sat at 8:00 PM and Sundays at 2:00 PM. There is one matinee on Wednesday, Feb 11 at noon. Tickets are $22-25 and can be purchased now at www.franktheatre.org or (612) 724 3760.

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