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David Wassilak

Born and raised in St. Louis, David has performed many roles in his long theatrical career, from actor to producer to house manager, and literally everything in between. He got off to an early start, acting and directing in grade school. In high school, he worked backstage a couple years before he got the urge again to climb up on the boards.

At the University of Missouri-St. Louis, he appeared in over a dozen roles, from Puck in A MIDSUMER NIGHT'S DREAM to a blind Vietnam vet in David Rabe's STICKS AND BONES. He also constructed the sets for most of these shows, as well as the few in which he didn't perform.

While in college, David got his first real job in the theatre, stage managing for a summer at the Fredricksburg Theatre Company in Virginia. After earning a BA in Speech Communications with a Theatre Emphasis, he was cast as the second guard in Theatre Project Company's production of Anoulih's ANTIGONE. He next toured with the Muny Student Theatre Project in their version of THE CANTERBURY TALES, and performed at the West Port Playhouse in a retelling of the story of the tortoise and the hare called THE GREAT CROSS-COUNTRY RACE.

He then spent a few months in Kansas City, MO working with New Directions for their Renaissance Festival production of MIDSUMMER. He served as stage manager (and deaf mute hunchback to avoid having to talk with the Ren Fest crowd. "Hey, I wasn't being paid as an actor, but they made me wear a costume, so . . .")

To earn a living while he acted, Wassilak took a job as Scene Shop Foreman at St. Louis Community College at Meramec. He did appear in a few shows at Meramec Ionesco's THE CHAIRS and INHERIT THE WIND as well as at Theatre Guild of Webster Groves and other community theatres. He also spent another summer assistant stage managing, this one with the Maryland Shakespeare Festival in St. Mary's City.

In 1988, David moved to Chicago, interning as a stage manager at Wisdom Bridge Theatre for their production of Phillip Kan Gotanda's YANKEE DAWGYOU DIE. He also stage managed for other Chicago theatres the Irish Heritage Players, the Chicago Theater Collective and Edge Productions, touring for them with A CHRISTMAS CAROLE and AMELIA LIVES. He also worked with Edge on the Chicago premiere of Charles Busch's VAMPIRE LESBIANS OF SODOM. And he worked as Technical Director for a season at Center Theatre, winning a Joseph Jefferson Award for his work on LYSISTRATA 2411 A.D.

As an actor in Chicago, David was in Sam Shepard's one-act CHICAGO for Kamijo Theatre, and with New Flight playing Creon in ANTIGONE (Anoulih's once again.)

Wassilak returned to St. Louis in 1990, working as Technical Director with St. Louis Shakespeare Company for several seasons, as well as performing in a few of their shows, including MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, A COMEDY OF ERRORS (in which he wore a fat suit as one of the Merchants) and as the First Witch in MACBETH.

David returned as well to work at Meramec (where he continues to serve as Assistant Technical Director) and acted with other companies, including the Arts Council of Lafayette Park and City Players.

Working with St. Louis Shakespeare, he met some of the folks running the Orthwein Theatre Company, and so began a seven year acting, directing, designing and teching stint with that company.

David Wassilak in SEASCAPE
David Wassilak with Steve Callahan
in Edward Albee's SEASCAPE  (Orthwein Theatre Company)

Acting roles included roles in THE CRUCIBLE, HAMLET (where he first worked with Joe Hanrahan) and Shepard's CURSE OF THE STARVING CLASS (where he first worked naked with a sheep), and the parts of Tom Joad in Frank Galati's adaptation of THE GRAPES OF WRATH, George in OF MICE AND MEN, a homeless Vietnam vet in THE SPEED OF DARKNESS, Kilgore Trout in BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS and Leslie the sea monster in Albee's SEASCAPE.

Wassilak's directing credits at Orthwein include Mac Wellman's SINCERITY FOREVER, O'Neill's A MOON OF THE MISBEGOTTEN, GOD'S COUNTRY by Steven Dietz and Eric Bogosian's SEX DRUGS ROCK & ROLL, performed by Joe Hanrahan.

At some point in all this, he also became Orthwein's Associate Artistic Director. He designed set and lights for ROMEO AND JULIET, a co-production of Orthwein and St. Louis Shakespeare, was technical director for Orthwein's Late Nite series, and designed lights and/or sound for many other main stage productions.

During this period, David also made a rare appearance (for a St. Louis-based actor) on the stage of the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis in Ibsen's AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE, as one of the people.

After leaving Orthwein, Wassilak went on to play some of his wildest and zaniest characters (on-stage, at least) with Magic Smoking Monkey Theatre Company in shows based on movies such as VALLEY OF THE DOLLS, the Elvis epic GIRL HAPPY, and (as Bela Lugosi in both) BRIDE OF THE MONSTER and PLAN NINE FROM OUTER SPACE.

And then he appeared as an artist with a sock fetish in Shanley's PSCYHOPATHIA SEXUALIS, directed by Joe Hanrahan at The New Theatre.

David Wassilak in the title role of THE BALLAD OF JESSE JAMES
David Wassilak in the title role of THE BALLAD OF JESSE JAMES
It was at this point Wassilak and Hanrahan decided to start their own theatre, and Midnight Productions was born (later to become The Midnight Company.) Aside from the many duties that go with producing for a small company reviewing scripts, acquiring performance space, dealing with publicity, taking reservations and coordinating tech for most shows David still finds the time to act and direct. He directed Joe in Bogosian's POUNDING NAILS IN THE FLOOR WITH MY FOREHEAD and in THE WORST OF ERIC BOGOSIAN, acted in original productions of scripts by Joe, LIFE AFTER DEATH and THE BALLAD OF JESSE JAMES (as Jesse), and also appeared as DRACULA in Joe's adaptation.
David Wassilak as Roy Disney in WALT AND ROY
David Wassilak as Roy Disney in WALT AND ROY

For the Company, he also performed in Steven Dietz's PRIVATE EYES, in WALT AND ROY, playing Roy Disney to Joe's Walt, and as Vladimir in WAITING FOR GODOT.

David also co-directed and co-starred with Hanrahan in Joe's script of LOVE MATCH, also co-directed by Mike Sneden. And he co-directed and co-starred again with Joe for the Judy-award winning THE HUNCHBACK VARIATIONS. (That production included a short dramatic piece that Dave adapted from Richard Foreman's journals.)

Along with his stage work, David has also appeared in some films. If you go to the Daniel Boone Home in Defiance, Missouri, you'll see him as young Daniel in a short film written by Joe Hanrahan. He also appears in the film DEFIANCE and stars in THE TELL-TALE HEART, which was screened at the New York Independent Film Festival in April of 2003. Both films were directed by Doveed Linder.

David appeared again with The Magic Smoking Monkey Theatre in their hilarious hit THE STAR WARS TRILOGY LIVE, portraying the evil Emperor and other roles.

He then embarked with Joe on the additional run of THE HUNCHBACK VARIATIONS, which was chosen to appear at The Philadelphia Fringe Festival. Sandwiched around that four-day run over the Labor Day weekend in Philadelphia were performances in August at The Commonspace, and later in September at Technisonic Studios.

David was recognized as Best Actor/1999 by The Riverfront Times, an honor he shared with Joe Hanrahan.

David had a busy 2005 theatre year, acting in St. Louis Shakespeare’s JULIUS CAESAR and their Magic Smoking Monkey productions of GLEN OR GLENDA and REEFER MADNESS, and tech directing their summer season at Grandel Theatre. Also, in his swan song at Meramec Community College, David directed Sam Shepard’s BURIED CHILD. In the Spring of 2006, David performed in BURIED CHILD, under the direction of Milt Zoth, for Muddy Waters Theatre.

In the summer of 2006, after the Company’s succesful revival of THE BALLAD OF JESSE JAMES, David performed in an acclaimed St. Louis Shakespeare production of METAMORPHOSES.

In between, he sandwiched in an appearance in one the 48-Hour Film Festival shorts, for which he was recognized with a Best Actor award.

In November of 2006, David appeared in the role of John Proctor's in Muddy Waters production of Arthur Miller's THE CRUCIBLE.

David received Kevin Kline Award nominations for individual and ensemble performances for BURIED CHILD and THE CRUCIBLE, as well as for METAMORPHOSES.

In Spring, 2007, David formed the St. Louis Actors' Studio with William Roth and Milton Zoth.

Hunchback Variations


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Revised: October, 2007
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