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Under a table, paws on the floor, circling. Finally, this place is right for a bed. Haunches down, head on crossed paws. Thinks. Six years old. He knows. This. This is what he's going to do for the rest of his life. Brendan made the decision, as a dog, that he would be a new someone more than once. That he would act.
He'd toyed for a few years with the idea of being a clown, but when he learned that the clowns had to wear make up - that their faces weren't naturally like that - he knew he couldn't. For him it would always be about finding the truth of the moment, and make-up obfuscated truth. There would come a time when he toyed with becoming a comedian, but he didn't want to tell his own jokes. He was an interpretive artist. He knew that. Plus, there were times when he'd held an audience: he wanted them to know the power of sorrow, of anger, of fear, as well as the joy of laughter.
But where would he find these audiences? And whose words would he speak, if not his own? The forests and moraines of SE Wisconsin served the imagination, but formal training lay further afield. For many years, family, friends, pets and trees were the audience, and for words, he found the Star Wars trilogy, Billy Crystal movies, and Shel Silverstein's poetry.
At last he reached that magical age: 10. The world was open to him. College for Kids gave him access to drama (and astronomy) at the community extension. It only took one summer for Brendan to discover that there was more to discover. Following the thread of discovery led him to taking Drama as a 4-H project (alongside his Geese and Horses) and then, at last, the crown jewel: First Stage Milwaukee.
Brendan started his professional career as a teen on the stages of regional theaters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. After high school, Brendan took his B.A. from the School of Drama at the University of Washington. He remained in Seattle for several years after college, working as an actor and stage manager until he and his wife set off on a busking journey in 2008. When they returned from their journey, they settled in Los Angeles, for Brendan's film and television career.
Brendan was born in Seattle, but he moved to the rural Wisconsin community of his father's childhood when he was five. He lived on Bur Oak Farm in a family that supported his interest in theater arts. Brendan's father drove him hours each day to rehearsals, auditions, and classes; became a stage hand and lighting designer to get involved with Brendan's projects; and helped Brendan establish the 4-H Drama Program in their county. Brendan's mother found performances for the family to attend and clipped and saved every accolade. Brendan's extended family and community came out to his shows and supported him; from aunts and uncles to school and 4-H, he always had a fan base. Brendan continues to create communities around him because communities are why we make art, and are the force for change in the world and are the only way we can be greater than an individual and our art can be great. Communities are great. Community. Community. Community.
By the time he reached his teens, Brendan had become a regular on First Stage Milwaukee's Equity stage, the 500 seat Todd Wehr Theater. The education, both theatrical and personal, that he received at First Stage continues to have an impact on his career, and he is grateful to the many fine teachers and co-workers he met on stage and in the classroom there, including Todd Denning, James Ridge, Jeff Frank, Kassie Misciewicz, and so many others they'd be impossible to all name here.
Brendan attended the University of Washington from 2000-2004, and took his degree in Drama with minors in Dance and German Language and Literature. During his time at UW, Brendan founded the dramatic dance troupe, Klichet, with Alissa Mortenson and Margaretta Lantz. By the time he graduated, Klichet boasted a rotating cast of ten, and more than a dozen acclaimed shows.
Brendan served as the Artistic Director of the Undergraduate Theatre Society at UW for one year, and was privileged to work with a committed staff that grew and supported the theatre community in UW's School of Drama. For his service in this position and his development of other community projects at the university, a selection committee made up of professors and staff awarded him the Robert Loper Scholarship in 2003.
Brendan appeared in dozens of productions during his time at UW. He worked with professors, grad students, and undergrads, including Mark Jenkins, Shanga Parker, Robin Hunt, Amy Boyce Holtcamp, Josh Costello, Jurg Koch, Nikki Przasnyski, Tim Astor, and dozens of others too numerous to mention. He worked on projects that ranged in scale from 48 hour play festivals to the School of Drama's main season productions. In his final work at UW, Brendan played D in the Polaroid Stories on the Ethnic Cultural Center stage. Polaroid Stories was a joint project between an alumni-founded production company and local homelessness activists.
In Fall of 2004, Brendan became a Stage Manager for Youth Theatre Northwest. He worked with YTN for four years, teaching, directing, and organizing productions made by kids for kids with the support of theatre professionals in the greater Seattle area. He had the opportunity to work with some of the top theatre artists in their field, including Mimi Katano, Kate Swenson, Gillian Jorgenson, Meghan Arnette, Brian Jackson, Meggan Davis, Wes Weddell, and, goodness knows, too many more to name, while supporting the growth and development of young actors, directors, and production staff.
In 2006, Brendan founded Ray Burley Productions with several UW School of Drama alumni and several co-workers at YTN (including too many to name). Ray Burley Productions began with the simple idea that a group of dedicated artists could make quality theatre and pay theatre artists in a fringe theatre town. Ray Burley Productions staged The Tempest in 2007 and Under Milkwood in 2008. Both shows played to often sold-out audiences, and Ray Burley Productions was able to fund their shows and pay their actors a small stipend purely from ticket sales and fundraisers. Ray Burley Productions now produces in Hollywood, and has received tremendous accolades for their productions at the Hollywood Fringe Festivals.
Also during this post-college time, he continued to teach as a freelancer with acclaimed youth programs, including several through Seattle Children's Theatre and First Stage Milwaukee (where he was trained as a child!).
In Fall of 2008, Brendan and his fiancee, Stina, developed a street performance routine they named "...And Juggling", said goodbye to their friends and colleagues at YTN and RBP, and set off on a two-year adventure.
Brendan and Stina persevered through four months of grueling routine rehearsals and performances in Seattle, Wisconsin, and Louisiana before deciding to move to Los Angeles so that Brendan could pursue his Film and Television career.
Before they moved to L.A., though, Brendan and Stina spent a year in Magdeburg, Germany, where they taught English, and Stina wrote the novel that was the first step on her journey to become a full-time author.
Since moving to L.A. in November 2010, Brendan has acted in numerous films. Thanks goodness for IMDB, because he's losing track of them. He performs on the Sunday Team and Rec League at ComedySportz, and in sketches at Second City. He can be seen online in Daily Fiber Films and We Make Movies sketches. He is the titular Gentle Werewolf in that web series. He played Eric in the original series, Top Decking, made some short films with Two White Wines, and appears in several web series, including Project Hollywood, Jane, Welcome to My Life, and Ghost Coppers. He belongs to a feminist writing group, and just started fleshing out Women of Will, about a vampire-hunting theatre troupe. In June, 2015, he was Henry Tilney in Catherine at the Hollywood Fringe Festival with Ray Burley Productions. AND he continues to run the Theatre Games night at We Make Movies. He's keeping plenty busy.
He's represented by Pacific Models and Talent, inc. and managed by Almost Famous Talent Management
Production Manager for Youth Theatre Northwest
Founder of Ray Burley Productions
Founder of Klichet Dramatic Dance Troupe
Founder of Two White Wines
Founder of ...And Juggling
Student, actor, and teacher for First Stage
Writer and actor with We Make Movies
Collaborator with Opera del Espacio
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