Reed Birney played Uncle Vanya at SoHo Rep in 2012 in a translation by Annie Baker, with a cast that also included Michael Shannon. He joined us in December 2021 to discuss the character in depth.
This episode marks our third installment in our Chekhov series as we focus on Reed playing the role of Uncle Vanya. If you haven’t yet, be sure to check out two most recent episodes of our Vanya workshop and Libby Appel’s Q&A. I suspect you’ll have an even deeper appreciation of and curiosity for the works of Chekhov.
Our previous Chekhov episodes:
This episode also concludes Season 5, which began way back in March! We’ve released a dozen episodes this year, from interviews to workshops to text work and Q&A’s. Thank you to everyone listening and I hope you’ve enjoyed this season as much as I have. I’d love to hear below if you have a favorite episode, guest, or moment. I’m also excited to share that we just passed 40K downloads and the show regularly appears in the top 100 of arts podcasts around the world!
Reed and I first spoke on the podcast back in Season 2 about his life and career. He has over 130 credits on stage and screen over the past 45 years. He is a Tony Winner for The Humans, a Tony nominee for Casa Valentina, and you can see him in the film Mass (now streaming on Hulu and elsewhere), HBO’s Succession, Apple’s Home Before Dark, and currently in theaters in The Menu with Ralph Fiennes. Reed also just closed a production of Chester Bailey with his son Ephraim at Irish Rep in New York. This guy just keeps working!
You’ll hear Reed and I talk about:
- his ideas going into Chekhov
- what he discovered and connected with about the role
- trusting the script
- challenges in the production
- and playing trapped characters.
We also learn lots more about Reed in our lightning round with a couple special New York questions!
The production of Reed’s Vanya had a unique set and style and I was eager to talk with him about this and his take on the character. I deeply appreciate Reed’s time and I enjoyed chatting with him again. Lots of laughs and he has such an honest and fantastic perspective on this life. I highly recommend checking out his full interview in Season 2—such a great conversation and example of someone going through peaks and valleys and finding success. Reed is always so generous and open and I’m thrilled we could bring you this discussion.
Enjoy the audio version of the Acting the Role conversation on Uncle Vanya:
Total Running Time: 46:01
- Stream by clicking here.
- Download as an MP3 by right-clicking here and choosing “save as/save link as”.