‘Woolf’s Madison Dirks Talks Playing Nick, Cruelty, and Working with Albee

Madison Dirks (Nick) is honored to make his Broadway debut. Previous stage credits include Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Steppenwolf Theatre/Arena Stage), The Chosen and Gary(Steppenwolf Theatre) Girl, 20(Serendipity Theatre-L.A. remount) A Man For All Seasons(TimeLine Theatre) The Last Supper (Infusion Theatre) Hillbilly Antigone (Looking-glass Theatre-u/s). Film and TV credits include:“Chicago Fire”(NBC), “According to Jim” (ABC), “The Chicago Code” (FOX), Public Enemies and The Dilemma. Madison is a native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and a graduate of Louisiana State University.

 

Interview by Andy S. Drachenberg

You’re making your Broadway debut in this production. What’s that experience been like for you?

It’s kind of surreal. I’ve achieved a major life goal of mine that now I can finally say, “Yes, I’m on Broadway.” Broadway has a universal definition that implies a certain level of success and legitimacy for an actor. It’s been an overwhelming experience.

What roads led you to ‘Woolf?’

Well, I moved to Chicago about eight years ago because that’s the city I wanted to live in. Chicago theatre has a reputation for being very visceral and earnest. There’s a down to earth sensibility about the training and the style of theatre that’s done there. While I was in college, I idolized and studied the Steppenwolf Theatre Company, so I felt very lucky to act in some of their productions later on. Pam [MacKinnon, director of the production] was directing a show at Steppenwolf two years ago, and Erica Daniels – the casting director – called me in to audition. After a series of callbacks, I ended up getting the part. That was two years ago, so I’ve lived with Nick since! It’s been a long, long time. I have more experience now with this production than I have with anything I’ve ever done before.

How did your views of Nick transform throughout two years of playing him?

I think I had opinions about who he was when we first started in Chicago. Pam has been really great in exploring the characters. She’s helped modify the performances a little bit; she’s certainly helped me with changing my performance of Nick for New York. The play is not a museum piece; it is a living work of art.

As a Steppenwolf production, the experience with other artists is incredibly important. What was working with everyone on ‘Woolf‘ like?

Pam is such a remarkable director. Her intelligence and sense of humor guides the room like a lighthouse. Tracy and Amy are legends. It was overwhelming at first but now I think of them as friends and colleagues. Carrie is wildly talented, funny, and gracious. We’ve gotten close throughout the production and I think of her as a close friend.

WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?

One of America’s most acclaimed theatre ensembles takes on one of the greatest plays of the 20th century: the Steppenwolf Theatre Company production of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? comes to Broadway to celebrate the play’s 50th anniversary.

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