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February 23, 2024

Brothers in Life, Brothers in Audio

February 23, 2024
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Real-life brothers Nicholas and Demetrios Troy also played the brothers Jef/Father Damien and Auguste/Father Pamphile in last week's Damien of Molokai series. We spoke to them about that experience and what it's like acting in The Saints. 

Brotherhood and Acting

Nicholas, Demetrios - What was it like for you playing this pair of brothers, Auguste and Jef de Veuster? Did your own relationship as brothers enter into your performances?

Nicholas: Absolutely!  The real-life dynamic that we have as brothers can’t help but enter into our interpretation of their lives. It's obvious that they were incredibly supportive of each other and that they had a deep family bond which of course, if I may also speak for my brother, was very natural for us.

Demetrios: It was a very natural transition for both of us. Our artistic sensibilities and faith complement each other on and off ‘the stage.’ Like our own relationship, Auguste and Jeff carry a deep brotherly affection, respect, and admiration for each other.

Auguste/Father Pamphile de Veuster (left) and Jef/Father Damien de Veuster(right).

Preparing for the Roles

How did you prepare for the roles?

Nicholas: I spent some time reading about Fr. Damien's life, looking over photographs, immersing myself in accounts of his works and deep humility. I did not watch any films based on his life as I wanted my interpretation of his person to come from an admiration and a certain awe of his sacrificial life. 

Demetrios: As with any role, especially historical ones, I research the Saint to attain an overall sense of their story. This helps me have a foothold on the world before I begin studying the script, which leads to the discovery of the character's wants, needs, and challenges. All the preparation leads to the freedom of discovering the character through the play and interactions of rehearsal. 

The Troy Brothers: Demetrios (left) and Nicholas (right).

You both delivered excellent Flemish accents. How did you prepare for the roles and the recording?

Nicholas: A great deal of listening. Most native Flemish speakers that I've listened to have very little accent in their English, so it was a challenge, and of course we are fortunate to have Eva Breneman as our dialect coach to correct me as I worked through it. Kris McLaughlin's wonderful script allowed space for the language and the dialect to flow with ease.

Demetrios:This was actually one of the more difficult dialects for me to prepare. Don’t tell my brother, but his dialect work grounded me. Since he was playing the lead, it just made sense that I should base my work on his. Then our amazing dialect coach Eva Breneman took us to the next level.

Nicholas - you play not only Father Damien, but his father as well. Tell us about that. How was it recorded?

Nicholas: It was great fun... I think we recorded that in one take with a couple of corrections. Our director, Kevin Collins, was very gracious in allowing everything to come out naturally. Between voices, I would take a brief pause to settle into his father, physically, and then do the same with Fr. Damien. A rare opportunity to swap personas in seconds - I'm in there somewhere!

Audio Drama and Other Media

You both come from acting and performing in other media, on stage and screen (Demetrios) and in classical music (Nicholas). What makes this medium of audio drama different from others? How is it suited to telling the stories of The Saints?

Nicholas: It is actually very similar to evoking images, people, and places in music. What we do creates an opportunity for a listener's imagination to take hold, and I think that makes for a very personal experience. It brings the lives of Saints, their love, sacrifice, and struggles, off of the page and directly into the heart.

Demetrios: Nothing is better than the imagination of the audience and this medium allows us to support that imagination. It’s why so often books are better than the film. In this case, audio drama allows us to transport our audiences through time and around the world into the lives of our beloved Saints. We are also blessed with an amazing engineering team, headed by Kevin Conroy. 

What’s the most surprising thing you learned while working on Father Damien’s story?

Demetrios: This was the first time I learned about the Saint and his great humility, faith, love, and sacrifice. 

Nicholas: The depth at which Fr. Damien identified with his tortured flock, the lepers of Moloka'i. In letters, he referred to them and himself as 'we lepers', well before he contracted the disease. Where most would fear for their own lives, he saw nothing but the image of God in their suffering faces. It was a great privilege to tell his story.

Demetrios Troy (Auguste/Father Pamphile) is a stage and screen actor. He is also a regular director for The Saints series. His stage credits include leading roles in Chicago and at major regional theatres across the US. His screen credits include Chicago PD, Chicago Fire, Empire, Utopia, Station Eleven, and The Chosen, in which he plays Lazarus. He is currently appearing in Richard III at the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre.

Nicholas Troy (Jef/Father Damien) is an actor, voice artist, and classical pianist. He has performed and taught the classical repertoire and composes his own works for piano, orchestra, and small ensemble. He is currently voicing more series of The Saints, as well as other voiceover projects.

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