SJ Q&A: Randy King, San Jose Stage Company
Off-Broadway in San Jose
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Randy King's next role is in San Jose Stage Company's production of Buried Child by Sam Shepard.
After graduating from the San Jose State University’s theater arts department, Randy King co-founded San Jose Stage Company and has remained artistic director and a regular cast member in the company’s productions for over 29 years. Randy’s wife, Cathleen King, is executive director at The Stage, which is recognized as one of the Bay Area’s premiere off-Broadway Theatres. The Stage has received critical acclaim for productions including I Am My Own Wife, Always… Patsy Cline, Altar Boyz, and Urinetown, the Musical. King has demonstrated his ability to play a wide range of roles, a list that includes the kind and tenderhearted Otto Frank in The Diary of Anne Frank and the abrasive, bad-cop interrogator Ariel in The Pillowman.
Name: Randy King
Occupation: Founder and artistic director of San Jose Stage Company
How long have you lived and worked in San Jose?
I came to San Jose in the summer of ‘77, so I’ve been here 35 years.
What do you like most about San Jose?
My favorite thing about San Jose is it’s not as much like L.A. That’s kinda why I stayed here.
At what point did you decide to pursue your career here?
I decided to stay in San Jose because I thought it was the place to start a theater. It looked like it needed one.
Who were some of your favorite actors as a kid?
Brendan Gleason, Robert Duvall, and definitely Clint Eastwood.
What are you most excited about for this upcoming season?
I’m most excited about doing Buried Child by Sam Shepard, the show we’re working on right now. I’ve been waiting 30 years. Originally, I thought I was gonna play one of the sons, and now I’m the grandfather, but I’m glad I waited. This part demands a certain amount of life experience, and I don’t think I realized that until I started working on it. It’s a great part.
What is one of your favorite places in San Jose?
Pico Ranch. It’s part of the original Pico Land Grant and it’s just like a sanctuary. It reminds me of the rural environment I grew up in, the Redwood City hills during the 50s and 60s. That was before it got filled up with monster homes.
How does downtown San Jose today compare to when you were here 30 years ago?
It’s focused on arts and culture and it’s grown. When we got to San Jose, we were the “Underdog City Ensemble.” We called ourselves that because San Jose was basically the underdog at the time. In college, we were a radical group of artists who would do shows anywhere we could find a place. We wanted to participate in San Jose’s cultural growth and we thought we would legitimize ourselves by starting the Stage Company. We did a lot of Sam Shepard back then. And then everyone ran off and worked in the industry for a while, and came back and started the Stage Company as a professional off-broadway environment.
What has been your favorite part of the transformation of downtown?
Opening this building, but really the city built us—the Redevelopment Agency and the City of San Jose, and we had a lot of help from Mayor Tom McEnery.
If you could change one thing about San Jose, what would it be?
The loss of the RDA. It’s restricted the huge investment everyone’s made in the industrial, cultural and community growth here in San Jose.
Who is the most interesting person you’ve met in San Jose?
I think Jim Beall. He’s a senator and he used to be on the City Council and the Board of Supervisors. He’s a politician who has a broader sense of the world in politics. He’s probably one of the most sincere politicians you’ll ever meet, and I’ve met a lot of them. Not that they’re not all sincere, but he’s the most [sincere]. He’s still in politics and he’s still the same guy, and I’ve known him 30 years. He knows so much and he’s so well-read. He’s just a good man and a good cat to hang out with.