FEATURE: Robert Pavolvich is “Bibi”

Robert Pavlovich sat down with us to talk about his upcoming performance of BIBI, produced by new theatre company, Diogenes Theatre Company.  Robert, can you tell us about your background in theatre?

I started in theatre in high school in New Orleans when a speech teacher was trying to help me get rid of my “y’at dialect.” That stretched into college where at Loyola I majored in Communications while doing four theatre productions a year.  My professional theatre life began  in what was the New Orleans training ground–Dinner Theatre.  It was a pleasure watching  more experienced performers work, learning acting from them, and also learning how to maintain a performance for 8-weeks or more.

After a 10-year career in radio news (UPI Radio Washington/NY and WWL Radio New Orleans), I returned to theatre. In the span of about a decade I appeared in more than 50 plays in New Orleans area theaters ranging from drama and comedy to musicals and educational theatre. In 1996 I moved to Cincinnati and began splitting time between the Queen City and Crescent City.  It took me a while to break into Cincinnati theatre.  My first opportunity was in staged readings at ETC. I worked at The Human Race Theatre in their production of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. My first Cincinnati production was in the Know Theatre’s EURYDICE.  From there came New Edgecliff’s production of GLENGARRY, GLEN ROSS, and the Know’s ADDING MACHINE: A Musical and ABRHAM LINCOLN’S BIG GAY DANCE PARTY.

In my teaching work at CCM, I’ve been fortunate to work with students in productions of TRUE WEST and A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM as well as a few student film projects. I’ve also returned to New Orleans in the summer to work at Summer Lyric Theatre at Tulane.  The past few years there I’ve done SOUTH PACIFIC, THE DROWSY CHAPERONE, FIDDLER ON THE ROOF, and this summer A CHORUS LINE.

How did you come to be involved with this project and this brand new theatre company?

I have worked with playwright Kalman Kivkovich on some of his staged readings over the past few years.  He contacted me early last summer and said he was working on a new play, and he was writing it with me in mind–quite an honor.   He sent me the script and was kind enough to ask my input on what he created.  We began discussions about the play with hopes of having a staged reading of it.  After a series of events, and a private reading, we were able to hook up with Jeff Landen and Diogenes Theatre Company.  Jeff agreed to produce a full production of the new work.  Jeff is one of those great theatre fans.  He loves theatre, has done some work supporting Cincinnati Shakes, and is responsible for bringing the NT Live Series to Springdale 18 Cinema de Lux in conjunction with Cincy Shakes.

Can you tell us a little bit about your role in the show?

Bibi is the nickname of the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu. For many years he was the ‘go-to’ person network news organizations and talk shows would contact when wanting to discuss Israel.  Bibi spent his teen years in the US and even holds degrees in Architecture and Political Science from MIT and Harvard. He was first elected Prime Minister in 1996, the youngest to hold the office and the first PM born in the state of Israel.

It’s my job to give life to the version of Bibi that Kalman has created.  I”m not attempting an impersonation of the real Bibi. I will suggest him through mannerisms, speech patterns, etc. The PM of Israel is a lightning rod.  Our exposure to him has been via news and opinion makers.  I’m trying to create a more human portrait of the man during a two-year stretch of his life leading up to his address to the United Nations in late September 2012.  We get to see him outside of his official duties and speeches.

So, what’s next for you personally? 

I just finished the school year at UC/CCM, so I’m trying to catch up on all the things I couldn’t get to while teaching and rehearsing a show.  I’ll head to New Orleans for A CHORUS LINE in July–we rehearse two weeks only.  It’s an amazing and grueling process that is quite fun.  And I’m hoping something shakes loose for me here in Cincinnati theatrically.  Cincinnati is so alive with theatre.  I’d love to be a part of it on a more regular basis. I’m always willing to audition.

BIBI will premiere on Tuesday, April 29th at 7:30 in the Jarson-Kaplan Theater at the Aronoff Center for the Arts.  Tickets are available here.  More information about Diogenes Theatre Company is available here.

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