Q&A with Actor Triney Sandoval who is appearing for the first time this summer at American Players Theatre in Twelfth Night, Macbeth and The Book of Will

August 22, 2019

APT: Can you tell us about yourself: Where are you from, where you live now, and what path led you to acting?

TRINEY: I was born in San Diego, California, and I now live in New York City. I wasn’t one of those people who knew that they wanted to be an actor as a child. I never practiced acceptance speeches with a shampoo bottle in the mirror. I watched baseball, played with my friends, and was a mediocre student. While I did some theater in high school, I didn’t think of it as a career. After graduating, I thought maybe I’d be a doctor, so I went to the local junior college and started my pre-med general education courses. If you looked at my transcripts, however, there’s this shift that happens between my first semester and my last. It starts out mostly anatomy and physiology, with maybe one theater class, and by the end it’s mostly theatre classes and only one pre-med class. I also realized that what excited me about being a doctor was the problem solving, not the human being that’s being treated. That didn’t seem good, so I changed my major and started solving problems that aren’t life threatening.

APT: You’re currently rehearsing for Lauren Gunderson’s The Book of Will, can you tell us a little about your character Jaggard, and what it’s like to play a historical character?

TRINEY: Historically, William Jaggard created one of the biggest print shops of his generation. He was one of the few printers that also published as well as partnered with booksellers to sell the works. He was the official printer of the City of London, and he published and printed some of the most beautiful and precisely created books of the era that still survive. Some people can achieve that kind of success through finding consensus with their partners. Some achieve it by approaching every situation as a contest of wits wherein one party comes out on top. The way that I read the play, Jaggard was more in the second category. He’s fiercely competitive, and not what I’d describe as “nice,” but I also think he loved working out the details of each step in a project, that he was passionate about solving the puzzle of it. There are some interesting contradictions there. Makes him fun to work on.

Creating characters based on real people who are modern is a bit different than creating a historical character. If it’s someone that we know, and we’re familiar with how they looked and sounded, there are a myriad of issues I would be thinking about. Jaggard is historical, but unknown, so I’m focused on finding the man that Lauren wrote.

My process always starts with the playwright’s words, so a historical character isn’t much different than a fictional one. I try to work out who the person is based on what’s in the text, so I read and re-read the play. And then I think about it, maybe do some research, think about it some more, and always go back to what’s on the page. I looked into who Jaggard was, and we learned a bit about printing at the time, but the text is really what’s guiding me. It’s the same as playing Shakespeare’s Richard III. Historically, Richard was a pretty good king and a decent fellow…..not so much in the play. If I’m cast in Shakespeare’s Richard III, I play his conception of the man, not history’s. In theater, the playwright is the foundational artist, and everything else flows from that.

APT: You’re in the three APT productions with the largest casts this summer, what is it like working with such large ensembles?

TRINEY: Personally, I’ve never found there to be much difference between being in a small cast and a large one. A small cast can sometimes gel into a cohesive unit faster, get on the same page and create their common working vocabulary, but that’s not a hard and fast rule. Especially in a situation like this. At APT there’s a Core Company as well as actors who work here regularly. They already have a shared foundation of experiences and work; they’ve already “gelled.” So the question becomes how open is that group to having a new voice in the room, and how facile are they at incorporating that voice? My experience was that everyone at APT is extremely welcoming, open, and facile, so we became a company very quickly. (Plus, I already knew a couple of the actors, so I had an in.)

APT: How are you enjoying playing in the woods for the first time? What has surprised you?

TRINEY: I love working outside, and have done it all over the country. The Old Globe in San Diego is next to the zoo, and shows are intermittently punctuated by the sounds of seals and monkeys. At Shakespeare Santa Cruz I played Puck in Midsummer, directed by Tim Ocel, who I’m very excited to be working with again on The Book of Will here at APT. At the original space in Santa Cruz, “The Glen,” we got backstage by walking through a redwood glen lit only by strings of Christmas lights. It was a wonderful way to get into the world of the fairies.

“Up the Hill” reminds me a lot of “The Glen”. They’re both magical. What’s surprising here is how much sound comes out of the woods at night! There’s virtually a nature sound bed. It’s just beautiful. I especially notice it in Macbeth when the whippoorwills get going. Sometimes they sound lonely and sad, sometimes like they’re warning us of impending danger, and sometimes they just get on a roll.

APT: When not on stage, what are your hobbies, and how do you like spending your time?

TRINEY: I like to make things. I come from a family that made things. My mother made specialty candy, baked and decorated cakes, and sewed professionally on and off. The summer I was 14 I got bored, so my dad had me enclose the breezeway between our house and garage. He’d give me a set of instructions and then when he got home tell me what I had to fix, and how to fix it. I got better at both carpentry and sewing when I went to undergrad, since classes in both the scene shop and the costume shop were requirements. And I’ve just kept at it. A couple of years ago I got to learn how to weld, which was exciting. I’d been looking for that chance for years. When I’m going to be out of town on long contracts like this one, I ship some of my woodworking tools as well as a sewing machine and serger. Since arriving in Spring Green I’ve made a few shirts and pairs of pants, and I’ve built a few tables and a bench for my apartment using scrap wood out of a trash pile from the APT scene shop. That wood pile is a great perk!

APT: If you could join any band, what band would it be and why?

TRINEY: Easy. Billy Joel. It would have to be okay with him that I neither play an instrument nor sing, however. When I was a kid I heard “Vienna Waits for You” at just the right time in my life. “You’ve got your passion, you’ve got your pride. But don’t you know that only fools are satisfied? Dream on, but don’t imagine they’ll all come true When will you realize, Vienna waits for you.” I’d work with the guy who wrote that song any day.

APT: Anything else you’d like to add?

TRINEY: Nope, but thanks for asking! (I’m amazed you got this much out of me!)