We Theatre People: Actors

The caliber of theatre actors living in Austin, Texas is extraordinary, and plays a major part in making Austin a theatre city. We’ll introduce you to one actor each month right here, so check back often! We suggest you go see a show to get to know the work of your faves! 

ATX Theatre Interviews Marc Pouhé

Thank you for joining ATX Theatre, Marc, and for braving being the first actor featured here. 

It’s my pleasure and honor to be the first, and it’s great to see our theatre community working together more like this. 

 

We’ve read your bio* by now, but what does it Not tell us? Why do you love acting? 

I love acting for the near infinite possibilities to explore life through other characters’ eyes. Additionally, when playing biographical characters like Thurgood Marshall, MLK, or Satchel Paige, I’ve been able to fill in gaps in my historical knowledge through research.

 

Who are you in real life? If you were playing Marc Pouhé, what would your character description be?

Marc is a father, a husband, and a survivor. He does his best to be kind to others but will not hesitate to fight for what is right. And he’s funnier than he seems at first. 

 

True. You do a good serious face, but there’s much to be discovered behind it. Have you always lived in Austin, Marc? What was your first theatre experience here? 

I was born in Michigan but actually lived in Cameroon in West Africa from age one to four. My dad was a chemical engineer and we traveled a lot for work. We ended up in Baytown in the early 80s and I’ve been mostly in Texas since then. I’ve been in the Austin area since transferring to SWT (now TxState) in 2000 — though I lived in Harlingen between 2009 and 2013, when I was getting treatment for kidney failure.

 

Kidney failure!? You come across on stage more like a super hero than a transplant survivor!

My new kidney is the super hero — (spoken in dramatic stage whisper) “No one suspects his true identity. He saves a life every day... and night.” My other super hero is my brother Jacques, who donated one of his kidneys through a three-way matching system so that I could receive a compatible one. Then of course, the doctors, my caring MOM and my amazing WIFE... I’m lucky to have many actual super heroes in my life. If I ever seem like one on stage, they must have rubbed off on me.

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Marc Pouhé

*Marc Pouhé is an American actor based in Austin, TX. 

Click here to see Marc’s website.

 

Films: Mnemosyne Rising, The Overbrook Brothers, and Between Kings & Queens. TV: Friday Night Lights and Prison Break. Titular theatre roles: Cyrano de Bergerac, Othello, and Macbeth with Austin Shakespeare and Thurgood Marshall in Thurgood with The Public Theatre of San Antonio. Additional Austin theatre credits: Jean (Rhinoceros), Mr. Burns (Mr. Burns, a Post-electric Play), Tom Robinson (To Kill A Mockingbird), De Guiche (Cyrano), Vershinin (Three Sisters), and Elesin Oba (Death and the King's Horseman) at Mary Moody Northen Theatre; Benedick (Much Ado About Nothing), Petruchio (Taming of the Shrew), Garry Essendine (Present Laughter), and Shylock (Merchant of Venice) at Austin Shakespeare; Satchel Paige (Satchel Paige and the Kansas City Swing), Willy Loman (Death of A Salesman), MLK, Jr. (The Mountaintop), and Seymour (Lisa B. Thompson’s Monroe) at Austin Playhouse; Scrooge (A Christmas Carol), James Casey (The Grapes of Wrath), Davey Battle (Take Me Out), Caiphas (Jesucristo Superestrella), and Caldwell Cladwell (Urinetown) at ZACH Theatre; Kyle Brown (Lisa B. Thompson's Undergound) at The VORTEX; and the Ghosts of Xmas Present and Yet to Come (Christmas Carol) at the State Theatre.

 

Marc is a winner of multiple Austin Critics’ Table Awards and a recipient of the John Bustin Award for Conspicuous Versatility. He was recognized by The Austin Chronicle as the Best of Austin “Best Classic Leading Man.” Marc holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Electronic Media and Theatre from Texas State University and has served as the Board Vice President for Austin Shakespeare since 2017.

You are a terrific actor AND you’re humble! That is an irresistible combination that totally explains your loyal following. 

I HAVE A LOYAL FOLLOWING?! Why has no one ever told me this!?

 

Haha —You Do. Accept it because you deserve it! What was your favorite-ever theatre experience anywhere? And why?

There have been so many to choose from, and I know I’m lucky to be able to say that, truly. But I have to pick two:

 

For sheer joy, I enjoyed playing Scrooge in Zach Theatre’s Christmas Carol, because the talent of the other performers in the show is so vast and deep, and the production’s scale is nearly as immense as a Broadway musical. As Scrooge, I had the best seat in the house every night! It’s also not lost on me that people that look like me aren’t often asked to play Scrooge. 

 

The production that was the most engrossing and intense was Death and the King's Horseman at St. Edward's University. The late Stephen Gerald directed and wrote a new adaptation of Nobel Laureate Woke Soyinka’s play. It was a challenging rehearsal process. It demanded I make drastic changes physically and emotionally (and I happened to be going through significant personal life changes at the time, which intensified the work). The show was acknowledged by my first Austin Critics Table Award for a leading role, which felt great since it was the first time I really pushed past the limits of my abilities in a process — and thereby learned what is possible.

What's the most unbelievable nightmare thing that ever happened during a show or rehearsal process? 

Easy. During Christmas Carol, my character doesn’t leave the stage except for a few seconds at the beginning of the first half (when I would gulp down water) and maybe 2 minutes right before the end of the show (to change some costume pieces before the finale). So if something goes wrong with me, I can’t just hang out backstage to fix it. Well, one night towards the end of the run, I started to feel an itching on my lower back — which grew into a burning — which grew into a deadly serious scorching. I kept it together long enough to rush back stage at the appropriate time, strip down to my undershirt, only to confirm that my microphone battery pack had malfunctioned and was dangerously hot. The crew changed my pack, helped me dress quickly and make it back onstage in time to finish the show. No permanent damage, no serious burns. It could have been much worse if the timing had been different. Whew! Never happened again.

 

Theatre lights your fire, I know. But, due to the limited size of our current market, theatre people in Austin nearly always supplement their artistic work with a “normal person” job for stability. What do you do other than theatre? And do your acting chops ever come in handy at that job?

I currently work for the LBJ School of Public Affairs at UT Austin. Like other office jobs I, I do employ my theatre skills there — teamwork, adjusting delivery for various personalities, and the ability to communicate clearly. And the faculty and staff are always excited when they hear about a production I’m in, so that's cool.

If you couldn't act, what would your dream job be?

I dreamed of being a fighter pilot for a while, but I’ve been acting for 22 years now. Acting is my dream job.

 

Conjure the given circumstances that would make it plausible to make a decent living as a full-time theatre artist in Austin — without an additional day job. 

I actually did it briefly for a year — ironically, right before getting sick in 2009. It was a combination of multiple acting jobs, theatre, voiceover, television and film work. I committed to making acting a 40-hour/week job, whether that meant rehearsing, performing, shooting, training, or hoping for a 1 out of 10 audition success rate for commercial work. But rent was cheaper then. I don't see how even middle class people survive within Austin city limits without multiple roommates or multiple incomes in a household now. If I were to attempt being a 40-hour actor again today, I would need some kind of miracle income supplement and would still have to commute from Williamson County.

 

What's the story of how you got into theatre?

I tried to impress a girl who invited me to audition for a play in college. Didn’t work out with the girl but I discovered theatre!

 

You’ve done film work as well. Do you prefer it to theatre? How are theatre and film acting different for you?

For now, I enjoy theatre. There is an immediacy to telling the whole story in one “take” and especially with a live audience. Film is very much a director’s and editor’s medium. And you might not see the final product for years, or ever! I'm still learning about film acting though, and I do think the Zoomed one person show I did during the pandemic helped with that. I was able to review rehearsal footage and understand the importance of scale and economy of movement on camera. 

 

Your home became your stage during the pandemic! Does your family like that you do theatre? Are any of them also stricken with the theatre bug? 

My family does enjoy it. My kids are starting to appreciate it again, though their interest comes in waves. I don’t know if anybody else is stricken yet. I’ll help them in any way I can if they express that desire, but definitely won’t push them towards it.

 

I hear you publish an invisible magazine of bargain hacks for actors! What are two tips you can give young actors who find that every promotional idea costs too much?

Never pay for an audition. I hope that’s not new information to anyone. I mean, there are legitimate auditions that have application fees like URTAs and UPTAs.  For a simple web presence, don’t be afraid to try Google Sites free web builder and Google domain hosting (I've paid like $12 a year since 2008). Also, if something seems expensive, Google how to do it cheaper/for free. Use social media wisely, keeping a separate professional page to promote yourself, create events, etc.

 

How would you like to see Austin theatre grow in the next 10 years?

With our growing population and real estate costs, I'd like to see a corresponding growth in salaries and support for the arts. Or Austin will just become one sprawling Domain devoid of culture.

Thank you, Marc.

For fans of Mr. Pouhé out there, be sure to catch him playing Orson Welles in Penfold Theatre’s world premiere adaptation of War of the Worlds in 2022!