Trender: The Gamm’s Artistic Director Tony Estrella

Monday, February 21, 2011


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Who are the Rhode Islanders leading in arts, fashion, food, and style? They're Trenders, and GoLocalProv introduces an ongoing series of glimpses of the people you most want to know on the scene.

Today, Tony Estrella, Artistic Director of The Gamm Theatre in Pawtucket, who may be best known on screen for getting beaten up by Alec Baldwin in Martin Scorsese's film, The Departed.
Homegrown factor: Born in Pawtucket, lives in Cranston, educated at URI and Trinity Rep Conservatory.
Age: 40

1. Where did you get your start in your field?
Tape recording Al Pacino movies when I was a kid and trying my best to imitate him. Then discovering Shakespeare.

2. How has living in Rhode Island played a role in your work?
Made me a perfect candidate for a small role in Brotherhood. No matter how much they beat it out of you in acting school, the accent comes right back.

3. How is the Gamm handling the recession, and what, if anything are you discovering to be beneficial in this climate?
On one level, the question is moot as in a so-called "free market" the arts are always in danger of receding. I can't remember an easy time in the not-for-profit arts no matter how well the "market" is supposed to be doing. The only benefit is that we are used to it and therefore uniquely capable of making much with very little. Less is more as those with nothing say... but I like to imagine how much more "more" could be.

4. What's next for you? Directing the North American premiere of Howard Brenton's PAUL. It's a secular re-invention of the Saul of Tarsus/St. Paul conversion myth and an investigation into the roots of faith and the transformation of Christianity from a tiny cult to organized state sponsored religious and political force. It's an exciting, powerfully theatrical work.

5. What's the biggest challenge about working in Rhode Island? A cliche... but convincing people that Pawtucket is only five minutes from Providence. The greatest reward? The size. It allows your work the chance of state-wide impact and it's actually possible to know almost everybody.


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