Merrimack Repertory Theatre Blog



Karl Baker Olson

Karl Baker Olson

Actor Karl Baker Olson is quickly gaining notoriety in and around Boston for his performances in plays such as The Lieutenant of Inishmore and The History Boys. In fact, Karl was recently awarded the IRNE award for Best Supporting Actor for a small theatre for his roles in the aforementioned plays. A graduate of Boston University School of Theatre and the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, Karl has also appeared at Boston Playwright’s Theatre, Huntington Theatre Company, and Actors’ Shakespeare Project. Prior to the start of rehearsals for A Moon for the Misbegotten, I had a chance to email with Karl about his thoughts on acting.


How has your education impacted your growth as an actor?

I started taking acting classes when I was in elementary school and never really stopped until I finished college in 2007. I’ve found the classroom is a great place to take risks, especially if I’m in a supportive environment. I spent 4 years studying acting at the Boston University School of Theatre and that’s had a profound effect on me. It’s a gift to get the chance to be creative everyday, but it can be exhausting too. Not that I think my education has come to an end, quite the opposite, but I’m finding it important now to take some time away from the classroom. The practical work I’m doing now in rehearsal and performance is challenging me in different ways and I’m growing a lot.


What was the audition process like for you?


The audition process for Moon was pretty short and sweet. I went in on a Sunday afternoon in December, read through the scene a few times for Mr. Morgan and was asked to come back in about half an hour. I spent some time processing the director’s feedback and then went back in to take another pass through the scene. I guess it went well; he offered me the job before I left the room.


Do you have a dream role or job? Where do you see yourself in the future?


There are lots of plays I’d love to be a part of some day. Some that spring to mind are Chekhov’s Seagull, Williams’ Glass Menagerie, anything by Naomi Wallace, more O’Neill, and Shakespeare. I’d love to train with Anne Bogart’s SITI Company. Someday I hope to study the Alexander Technique and ultimately have my own practice. I want to have a family. As long as I’m inspired, being challenged and feel like I have something to offer, I’ll continue to work in the theatre.


What advice would you give young actors making their way in the business?

Slow down and breathe. Nothing ever good has ever happened to me through rushing or desperately trying to make something happen. The moments when I’ve been given great opportunities were the times I just put my hands up and stopped trying to make someone like me or be someone that I’m not. I’m not a good schmoozer. I’m a terrible liar. I take my work seriously and people can see that. That’s enough. I find the more positive energy I offer to my friends and the people I meet, the happier I am and the more space there is for something to happen.

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