Pop goes the ankle for APT's Charles Pasternak

Posted July 9, 2019

Man News 4 Isthmus

By Aaron R. Conklin, Madison Magazine, July 9, 2019

As you might expect, Charles Pasternak is having a blast playing the eventual Emperor of France. Pasternak, a veteran actor who is new to the American Players Theatre cast this summer, plays a young Napoleon Bonaparte, matching wits with Cassia Thompson's mysterious woman over a set of stolen dispatches in "Man of Destiny," a bite-sized George Bernard Shaw play being staged in the Touchstone this season.

"This is such a puzzle of a play," says Pasternak, who has performed with companies across the country. "And it's such a beautifully intimate part, with long Shavian speeches and half-page sentences that never end. It's a great joy to get into his mind. There's a lot of Shaw in Napoleon."

Pasternak was kind enough to set aside his sword and bowl of risotto to talk about some of his stage highs and lows.  


It's clear Pasternak is a huge lover of classic theater. His favorite stage memory comes from Shakespeare's underrated and dramatically underperformed "Henry IV: Part 2" — the "Empire Strikes Back" of the Bard's Henriad. The bridge play lacks the epic throwdown between Prince Hal and Hotspur that defines "Henry IV: Part One" and it also lacks the legendary "We Happy Few" speech that everyone remembers from "Henry V."

One thing it does have — at least when Shakespeare Santa Cruz performed it in its entirety in 2015 — is a touching scene toward the end of the play in which a group of older soldiers sing together about the end of old England in an orchard before heading off to battle.

Pasternak got to experience that in "Henry IV: Part 2" firsthand while playing Prince Hal.  He had just completed the scene in which Hal vows to his brothers that he won't become a wastrel king when he ascends the throne. He had run offstage to change costumes for a subsequent scene in which he renounces Falstaff. That put him in a great backstage position to appreciate the scene.

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