Line man

Patrick John Kiernan


Patrick John Kiernan starred in Good Luck Macbeth's recent production of Shiner, about a pair of '90s-era Nirvana fans who make a suicide pact. His character, Jake, begins the show at a geeky apex as he struggles to reconcile familial and personal chaos. A new friendship shifts his outlook, though, and reveals his two true loves: music and a girl named Margot. Transitions abound for Kiernan, too. He drove down from New York for the show, made Reno his new home, and is now GLM's associate artistic director.

Tell us about preparing for Shiner.

It’s an intense little play. You know when you read something and don’t remember putting it down, or don’t remember time going by? It’s sort of trite when people say that, but that’s exactly what happened. It was start-to-finish riveting, so I was excited to hopefully do it. I wanted to figure out the logistics of getting here from New York, and we did. The process of getting into this character is kind of like what I did as a teenager.

I wondered! Were you a Nirvana kid?

No, I was the opposite. I was Jake at the beginning of the play. I didn’t find my rebellion until after high school. It happens at a different time for everybody, but I remember being Jake.

How’s the reception been in Reno?

Oh, God, it’s been overwhelmingly positive. We’ve had houses where other [local] theater people came. It’s usually a night when they don’t have a show for some reason or another, and they laugh with everything, they applaud at everything. And we’ve had plenty of times where the show is over—the curtain comes down, the lights go out, and then we stand in silhouettes—and nobody claps for like five seconds, because they don’t understand it’s over, or they’re just overwhelmed. We’ve come out after we’ve changed and taken off our makeup, and they’re still just sitting there, like, “Whoa.”

It’s a compliment, then.

It is. It shows that the play is really strong, and we’re strong in it to have affected people in such a way.

Did it affect you, too?

Oh, yeah. Without going into too much detail, I have an older brother who’s 12 years older than I am, and he passed away unexpectedly in New York, in the middle of the run. They were planning on canceling the whole week of the show so I could go home with my family, and I was like, “This is kind of overwhelming, but please don’t cancel the show, because I wouldn’t know what to do with myself.” The last two weeks were a bit rough for me, but to go up there on the stage and let everything else go is so helpful. You get to deal with all those complex, powerful things in a very safe place where people you trust are around you.

I’m so sorry. That sounds therapeutic.

Well, there’s that whole Marlon Brando school of acting, the method acting … and that’s not always the healthiest way to do it. But there’s a way to just let a little bit of yourself go and still maintain your ground or your footing, where you’re not completely unhinged.

Do you have a dream role?

I have always loved Shakespeare, and when you get past the language, he has a lot of really fucking wild characters. One of them … is Richard II.