Merrimack Repertory Theatre Blog

Mark Zeisler Profile and Interview
Mark Zeisler (Philip) and Zainab Jah (Azmera) in Tranced

Mark Zeisler (Philip) and Zainab Jah (Azmera) in Tranced

Accomplished actor Mark Zeisler returns to MRT as Dr. Philip Malaad in Bob Clyman’s Tranced. Prior to Tranced, Mark appeared in MRT’s 40th Anniversary production of The Homecoming alongside Kyle Fabel, who is directing Tranced.  

Mark has a rich theatre background, having grown up in the business. His father, Peter Zeisler, was the founder of the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis and longtime executive director of the Theatre Communications Group. Mark has appeared on Broadway in A View of the Bridge and Brooklyn Boy, has worked at numerous theatres across the country.  He also has numerous film credits, including Shaft, The Thomas Crown Affair and Head of State, as well TV appearances on several of the Law and Order franchises, Third Watch and Rescue Me

Mark was able to take some time during the second week of rehearsals to answer a few questions about Tranced and his experiences as an actor. 

You have worked in Lowell before, in MRT’s production of The Homecoming. What brought you back to MRT for Tranced? Do you have any fond memory/story of that show, MRT or Lowell you would like to share? 

The Homecoming was one of the finest experiences of my professional life. I loved every aspect of that experience and of working here at MRT, and I created some lasting and very important personal relationships from that production. It was very important to my life. I find it strange that there was such a backlash of negative opinion about that show. I am very proud of it and always will be. 

Did you know anything about or have any experiences with Hypnotherapy (trancing) prior to reading the script for Tranced? Did you do any special research on the subject to prepare for the role? 

My brother is a hypnotherapist, so I know a little about the world from him. I haven’t personally been tranced/hypnotized, but I did some light research about the subject before starting rehearsal. Bob Clyman has been very informative about the subject. 

How would you compare your experiences acting in the theatre with the films/TV shows you have been involved it?

Well they’re all wonderful ways to work and I enjoy working in all of them. I grew up in the theatre, it’s my family’s business, and so I am especially partial to it. I love going to work every day in the theatre, I love how your body gets ready to do a show at the same time every day, and the focus that gets involved in doing the work. Film and Tv are both very different- film is high stakes, dealing with a lot of other technical elements- you’re part of a team. It’s definitely exhilarating. Episodic TV is a lot like working in the theatre if it’s good…you go to work every day, and the hours are a lot more grueling. But the payback is different.

Much of the decision making in Tranced has to do with whether or not “the ends justify the means.” Do you believe your character, Philip, was correct in the choices he made? Put in his position, would you have made the same choices?  

Can’t help you there, sorry to say! I have to believe in Philip’s choices because I am playing him. He is certainly a character that will probably inspire a bit of debate- I will leave that for others to determine. I’m not sure that I would go out on a limb for my personal beliefs as much as Philip does- I can only hope that I would. He does believe in his work, and is completely obsessed with it, and that I understand.

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