We look to the past to shape our future. Who are you? Where are you going from here?

My Name is Zack Lopez Roa. Though my home base is NYC, I am originally from Miami FL and come from a large Cuban-American family. For six years I served in the US Air Force as a Meteorologist and also as a Solar Analyst. Prior to joining the military I spent a year training my craft at California Institute of the Arts. Currently, I am wrapping up my Graduate training at Columbia University where I have trained under legends such as Ron Van Lieu, Peter J. Fernandez, James Calleri, Jim Calder and many others. Though I absolutely love theater and Shakespeare, following graduation I expect to lean into Film and Television.

What most excites you about being a part of TAM’s Brave New Worlds Season?

As a massive fan of ‘As You Like it’ and ‘Earnest,’ I think there is so much to be excited about. However I can’t deny that the opportunity to work on “The Story of My Life” is an exceptionally rare one and I am very eager to take that journey. Likewise, I love meeting new artists and collaborating to create something special so I look forward to finally being in the room and diving into work.

We’re all about making old things new and new things classic. Why are you drawn to Classic Theatre? How do you shake it up?

I think Classic Theatre reminds us, both artist and audience, that we are storytellers and love to hear/see stories that light us up and change us. There is something wildly human about classic theatre that, when constructed well, touches at the heart strings of the audience and brings them back to the theatre hungry for more. There are many ways to shake it up, but in my view, bringing your unique self, voice, and history to the vibrancy of the text presents something exceptionally special to the audience. The actor can’t, or shouldn’t, attempt to change the text to mean what it doesn’t mean, but they can allow the audience to hear it in a different way.

From what sources do you draw your inspiration?

In my experience it depends on the character I am working on but I have noticed that I often do draw from the vast pool of people I met in the military, or because of the military. I was lucky in my journey to meet so many incredible people of various walks of life who stretched my perspective of life, art, and humanity. I also can’t help but draw from my uniquely beautiful yet chaotic cuban family.

You can have dinner with any three influential people. Who are your dream guests, why them, and what is the topic of conversation?

Alan Watts – I was raised Catholic, like Mr. Watts, and I funny enough developed a secret fascination with eastern religion and philosophy when I was younger and discovering Mr. Watts’ work was a life changing experience for me. Alan Watts had such an incredible knack for constructing stories, analogies, and turns of phrase to guide his audience to understanding eastern philosophy. I think most importantly though, it was seldom in the effort to change you or your beliefs/perspectives but just to contemplate on a different way of looking at life. We would probably talk about human nature.

Richard Burbage – I love Shakespeare, but as an actor I feel like there would be so much more to talk about with the most famous actor during that time – We would likely talk about audiences, the Lord Chamberlains Company, how he felt about the King/Queen’s constant watchful eye, and about being the first to play one of the most notorious villains of all time: Richard III.

Alexander the Great – Who wouldn’t want to have a conversation with one of the most influential young military leaders of all time? He allegedly never lost a single battle, conquered most of the Middle East, and overthrew the Persian Empire in his 20’s! We would definitely chat about how he did it and maybe talk about how terrible the wine was at the time.

How have the past few years changed your view of making theater and what action are you most proud of?

The past few years, I have been working on my MFA at Columbia University. In my view, grad school training is a fusion collider of theories and techniques that will constantly challenge your ideas of the theater and how you go about crafting your work. Coming from the military, I love structure and organization and order. Ironically, the past few years have taught me that I actually have to embrace a sense of chaos and disorder during my process. I learned that the reality of this craft is that the best things come from deep searching and curiosity. You can’t always find gold with a straight line map, or a map at all, but as an artist, it’s my duty to at least go searching and to remain curious. Besides, the truth is, structure is horribly boring and we don’t go to the theatre to see perfection, we go to the theatre to see life; and we all know how chaotic life can be. I am proud that I have been able to both understand this and put it into practice – I personally feel as though my work has been much more dynamic and exciting as a result of this change of perspective.

What’s your super power?

My ability to always have space for dessert… and also my Imagination.