Meet John Haggerty, a Broadway-trained actor who leverages his acting skills to help medical students how to better interact with their patients in New York City.
The name of that job? Standardized patient, and he loves it.
John Haggerty is a long-time friend of mine since 2003, who has appeared on a much earlier episode on Feisworld (#7, what?!)
John has appeared on Les Miserable, King and I, Living Room, Yoshimi Battles, and Pink Robot. Most recently at the Armory in Portland Oregon, John acted in a play called Kodachrome.
Fei Wu: Hello, how are you? This is a show for everyone else. Instead of going after top 1% of the world, we dedicate this podcast to celebrate the lives of the unsung heroes and self-made artists.
John Haggerty: All of us, every human being is an artist because we have those questions. And our minds about. What’s great, what’s terrible? Doesn’t answer anything, just ask you to ask the questions because this is a never ending thing about all of us as human beings as finding some sort of connection with perhaps one special person and maybe with yourself in a way. We can all admire the the Picassos of life that we from afar and admire that. But if you have your own personal Picasso is kind of kind of nice to be in that in in the in the wake of that or or to be alongside that as it were. You have to know how to do it correctly to understand what corners you can cut as a doctor. So I had to learn all of that stuff and as a result I learned so much more about my body about my health and I went and had my blood sugar checked again because I said I have all the symptoms. This patient dissimulated patient. This person’s back story, that’s me, that’s me, that’s me, that’s me. Alright, I think it’s a miracle that doctors can walk in, meet a total stranger in 15 minutes they get very close to saying a headache means the difference between a brain tumor and you know you went out drinking last night. There’s a wide swath between that and this. By very precise questioning that you can come with the reason why that’s happening. I think that’s an amazing art form that doctors can do that so. The part that I can play as a person that can help future medical students become great doctors has been has been very satisfying in a why. This is good for the planet is that it gives everyone a chance to have a trial run like we’re doing trial runs. We have a week of trial runs before an official opening. Everyone should get a chance to do that, especially people who are in charge of human lives. And if I can be a part of that then they think that’s that’s just a wonderful. Kind of psychic payoff.
Fei Wu: Hi there, this is your friend and your host Fei Wu and I’m so thrilled that you choose to spend the next 45 minutes to an hour with us. As you know, there are many, many more podcasts these days, so by choosing to stay with us and to spend the time with us, it means a lot more than you think. Today on the show I will not disappoint you. I have John Haggerty appearing for the second time. Feisworld in an earlier episode, #7 John Haggerty joined me as a longtime friend since 2003 and shared so many stories of himself as an actor on and off Broadway. As a reminder, John has appeared on Lee, Miss King and I living room. Yoshimi battles the Pink Robot and most recently which is a new story we’re introducing to this episode is his appearance in Portland, OR. At the Armory for Kodachrome, this was a play seen through a photographer’s eyes in a small town. It was very fascinating. I wish I could release this episode a little earlier, but due to travel and other Feisworld obligations, the show Kodachrome in Portland, OR has already concluded. As of March 2018. By the time we interviewed him, the show was still in preview mode, which was an early February. In addition to Kodachrome. And acting in general, this episode gave me the opportunity to explore something John has been doing lately with his acting skills which has fascinated me really for a long time. John lives in New York and when he isn’t rehearsing or acting for a new show, he helps medical students learn bedside manners and better interact with their patients. The stake is high because the students are graded on their interactions, responses, and overall performance. And for John, he has to be an active listener at all times. In many ways he sees this as being more difficult than remembering thousands of lines from a Broadway show. In one example, John describes in details how he had to go off script and act out as an extremely difficult patient. He couldn’t believe the words that came out of his mouth. My associate producer, Adam Leffert, also happens to be John’s best friend and college roommate joined us. In this conversation. I think when we talk about this, it all made a lot of sense. I can’t even imagine why aren’t so many other actors to pursue a row like this which is. Then offered so many people I can imagine, for example, how he skills as an actor could really benefit people in mock interviews or seminars on dealing with difficult conversations. If this sounds like a good idea and you’re thinking about exploring a project with John, get in touch with me and we’ll be more than happy to make an introduction. Last but not least, we always have young people in mind, meaning people who are perhaps pursuing a career path to become actors or actresses themselves. John knows intimately that this path is not easy. Therefore, as someone who has been in the industry for more than 30 years, John can offer you first-hand information on how to overcome fear and pain, and perhaps some of the fundamental skills and things that you need to think about. Well, pursuing a career like this, I thought that was so honest and valuable. O if you enjoy this episode, I would encourage you to share it with one more person and hopefully it will light up their day and their imagination. Without further ado, please welcome John Haggerty to join us for the second time on Feisworld Podcast. O I’m here with John Haggerty, who has appeared on an earlier episode of Physeal podcast much earlier episode within the first 10 and we are now. We just launched episode 138, so I’m pretty unbelievable. I’m also with my partner Adam Leffert, who also happens to be John Haggerty’s. Friend called roommate and has really followed him everywhere since then and you mentioned that you were in the show, which we happened to have just watched it about an hour ago and it’s called Kodachrome. So could you could you tell us a bit about the show where you were role is?
John Haggerty: Well, this is a brand new play to the planet. They did this play as a as a reading. They they developed this play a year or so ago. Here and they decided to put it into their official season. So I have been blessed to be cast in this play and I was talking to. One of the box office fellas someone asked him what does this play about? And because no one’s seen the play, it’s not something you say. Oh Hamlet OK. Danish Prince goes to some problems and he gets killed at the end. We you don’t know the plot so no one’s seen the play and the the box office person said it in a way that I thought. Wow, that’s pretty cool. And he told me that he’s telling people it’s like, uh, our town. The Thornton Wilder Classic meets Love Actually the movie by Richard Curtis came out about 10-15 years ago, 15 years ago, probably where these little vignettes of interrelated people talking about watching them go through their experience of trying to connect. And there’s a narrator character, which is what the our town aspect is of. Watching a small town. So that’s the similarity. I thought that was a pretty good bridge between the two and someone else in the cast said it’s a little bit of sprinkle of Amelie, the French movie of people trying to find each other and and so I thought that was pretty good. So if people want to know what this says about it’s our town, Amelie Love Actually. And you guys just saw the play. You can tell me from your experience as an audience because I never expressed this to an audience member. If that’s pretty close or not.
Adam Leffert: I admit I saw Emily quite a long time ago. I’ve heard of Love Actually, so I can’t speak to that, but I think that the sense is right. It’s about. People who want things want each other want connection and love and seek it in their own way and keep seeking it in their own way. And the ups and downs of.
John Haggerty: That yeah, well there you go. And what do we all do in life as as people we that’s a constant theme in life and Adam Simkowitz who wrote the play decided to have a riff and do a piece of writing on that. And it was interesting hearing the titters in the audience about. Some lines that the narrator speaks out loud as if into the audience and and hearing them respond very viscerally with some sort of reaction. You know, she, she asks, is is is it is the point of love to be miserable or not, and you know that is that the point always to learn, and I think that’s what the play doesn’t answer anything. Just ask you to ask the questions, because this is a never ending thing about all of us as human beings. Finding some sort of connection with, uh, perhaps one special person and. Maybe with yourself in a way, I think some of the characters don’t actually find that connection because they they’re not able to do with other people because they can’t find it within themselves and that and I’m Speaking of actually personally of one of the tracks that I play. So Speaking of which we all play multiple characters in the play except for the narrator and who is the photographer of the town as you. If if you happen to be in Portland’s and see this as the premise. And all of the actors place a few different characters and I play a perfume maker. And a history professor and I also make an appearance in two quick scenes as a emergency medical technician. Saving a couple that are over thrown by the throes of love. I don’t know how else to put it there other than that, but it’s been a you’re you’re catching me at the end of a long, long tech week and I’m so grateful for both of you to come out all the way from Boston to come out and see this play and support the theater and support me and I I so appreciate and love you.
Adam Leffert: We’ll bring you out to that. So for me over these honestly decades, it’s been the same and the same. For me in the podcast as well, to have an extraordinary opportunity to connect and kind of insert myself in that life without the talent or the effort to become an actor, or an aerialist or a surgeon. And to say about the play that we saw you talk about, the no, the joy of living your daily life, and the small moments, and the joy of being an actor and being in the play. The characters are somewhat strongly identified. This person, without giving anything away, or spoilers or anything somebody’s very shy, somebody’s, very bold, somebody’s very persistent and other person’s reticent. And sometimes you watch a play or a movie and think, oh, I’m like that person or I’m like there. You know, I’m I’m I’m I’m this guy and this show but what I felt about the show we saw tonight about Kodachrome was that. We’re like we’re almost all those people in any in any given moment.
John Haggerty: Right right, there are so many prisms of experience that I think the playwright was trying to touch upon that. We’ve all had that little feeling of ecstasy. Let’s say when you get you find young love and. Getting divorced, which I’ve been through personally and and. Separation and then reconciliation and and longing. I think it’s so interesting to.
Fei Wu: Me, part of what I noticed with my podcast and which is kind of feels in a way kind of selfish, is like I get meta pretty quickly that I always like to ask my guests first about who they are as people because I don’t know many of them as well as I do know you. For the past, you know, 1415 years. But I wonder, I want to. I want people to get to know you a little bit more as a person, because in case I haven’t. Listen to it where they don’t really know what is it like to be an actor and you’re a very experienced one. So for example, one thing I notice is that all the shows I’ve been to you are always introducing me to people on the show. But as friends you know people, you spend a lot of time with and really to to be able to learn from, and you’re not at all possessive about that relationship and you’re always promoting other people. Whereas in the acting world and all the academic world and. Or you know, all the other worlds. I notice that there’s somehow is something that we don’t talk about. Is that if I’m a project manager, I don’t. Almost don’t. People won’t introduce you to someone else in that position or you 5 minutes ago you’re you’re celebrating also, and you know they went on to do this and went on to do that, like, I wonder. You know why? Why do you feel that way?
John Haggerty: Uh, obviously 1 degree of separation makes. You you feel more intimately involved with other people’s struggles and what they go through and and, and there’s and their victories. And I I have great love and respect for you and for people that whom I I’ve gotten a chance to cross paths with and and and and pulled in by their their work and I we can all admire the. The the Picassos of life that we from afar and admire that. But if you have your own personal Picasso is kind of kind of nice to be in that in in the in the wake of that or or to be alongside that as it were continued every every time, every time we do an acting job. I think I really literally think it’s the last time I look at these experiences as I get one more chance, one more chance. Because you don’t know, none of us know it might be. It really might be the last one, and so let’s try to do it as well as we can on that particular day.
Speaker 3: So we you know that’s the acting and and the the passions and the and the journeys of deep well. We also did want to talk about things that are happening outside of this particular engagement in this particular show. Other things you’re doing in your life that are related to the arts that are not related to the arts.
John Haggerty: Well there are. Very very few people I know. I mean personally, of course we all know who the big stars are. Go from, show to show or from. TV show TV show. Uh for the most part, my circle is pretty rank and file actors in New York and none of us have 365 days a year of employment in our in and professionally. So when I’m not doing this I work for medical school and a lot of actors do this in New York anyway. But I fell into doing something called standardized being a standardized patient. So I help doctors, students in medical schools, aspiring doctors to to help them become better with their bedside manner to help them figure out a diagnosis and the Kumbaya feel good feeling about this amazing kind of side job that I have is. That whatever kind of slip ups they make or or things that they didn’t ask a patient that could cost them their life out in the field when they’re gone. I’m able to coach them because I’ve been coached about how to train them. How I feel like in some ways I’m I’m saving someone’s life down the line. And there are very, very few jobs I’ve ever had that you can give someone satisfaction. But to think that somehow what I did today helped this person. They’re going to meet this person that I’ve been asked to portray because we get a case study we have to portray a certain type of person. When they meet that that type of person, if they don’t have that training before medical school, they may slip up. They may hear important piece of information in an interview with the patient that they were supposed to catch, which told them about a major problem that they missed. So if they do that, then I’m able to say when we have our post simulation and we do our feedback, I say hey you missed that part. We should have asked me about that and they go. Oh thank you for telling me that. I mean that is so great for me. It’s that extra beyond whatever they pay me feeling that you walk away psychically saying. I I did a I I did some good for the planet today that someones. Mom, brother, sister brother. Was Father was what might have been saved later in life because of that.
Fei Wu: Hi there, this is Fei Wu and you’re listening to the Feisworld Podcast today on our show, meet John Haggerty, Broadway trained actor who uses his acting skills to teach medical students in New New New York City how to better interact with their patients. Yeah, I I feel like there are also moments where that’s even less so than life or death. Is that those few hours that you might feel. I mean, we have all encountered poor bedside manners in our.
John Haggerty: Lives.
Fei Wu: Right, very whether we are as caretakers or as patients ourselves and could. Comes down to really small elments that really not at all life threatening, but you know, I recently had a friend who was in an emergency room and out of the blue based on his conditions, he was told that he could have either a stroke or something much more minor, but because he didn’t have any symptoms at the time he was asked to wait in the emergency room for six hours and every second of those six hours he thought you know about having a stroke or a heart attack. Which you know, the way that he was told, as we’re just very matter of fact, as in it could be a possibility, but I think that reminds me that just one recent experience. I myself have experienced much more with my dad with my mom. And So what you’re doing really has excited me so much, probably more so than you thought. You probably think we’re friends like you know this is something new and exciting for you. But we think that you are really a very perfect candidate for that job, so. Like I want to learn a bit more about as a patient, what do you? What are you told to kind of get into that zone? Where that condition OK?
John Haggerty: You know well it was. It’s it. It changes from case to case. For example, there are. What is it? Almost 40 something points or 40 something? Things for someone to get a full physical, a full physical exam and I had to learn every single one how it’s properly done. I realized I’ve never probably no one on the planet really has had a full physical exam done correctly, or at least the way this school teaches it and to the doctor out in the field. To their, you know, to their argument. There’s there’s no time that you wouldn’t do certain things on certain people because you know, as they’re not a that’s not a health risk thing, they can bypass some certain things. Certainly my doctor does it. He byi. I said, you know, I do this all the time and you’re going to. You’re going to miss my popliteal pulse. And you’re going to do that. He goes, yeah, yeah, I know you do this and and you know that’s fine but but you have to know you have to know how to do it correctly to understand what corners you can cut as a doctor, so. I had to learn all of that stuff and as a result I learned so much more about my body about my health. In fact, I went and and thought I may, you know, I went and had my blood sugar changed. Checked again because I said I have all the symptoms. This patient dissimulated patient. This person’s back story, that’s me, that’s me, that’s me, that’s me. So every case is kind of different and it depends upon what they are training the students to learn. That day are you. Are you looking for high blood pressure that day? And then I have a. Like typically I want I will have a name, a back story and I have to listen to very specific questions and I have to give an exact scripted response because the idea of standardized patient. Is that the medical students are getting the same answer every time, so I have to listen very carefully. You know my answer might be, I feel. I have a hard time going to sleep at night. And if that’s the answer that they scripted in that the doctors who’ve written the case have scripted, I can’t say, yeah, I feel sleepy. It’s they can’t be that it has to be a certain say. You have to say the same line every single time, and I have to remember that. So I have to renew the script script dead cold, like an acting exercise. But that same time my acting partner is changing the lines every time they walk into the room that medical student is giving me a different line. I have to say now I can say this line to them.
Fei Wu: You sound like a computer, almost like a binary. I mean not not binary yes or no, but you almost have to function like a computer and calculate in your head all the time. Do a what’s which option ABC or or do re E and then.
John Haggerty: You have to kind of never thought of it. That way you’re.
Fei Wu: Right? It’s kind of crazy because in the way that I feel like it’s almost like you’re taking the test because this is not a free range creative writing.
John Haggerty: Because they’re being graded, and if one student. That’s a different answer because I screwed up the answer. They can always look at the videotape, because all these sessions are videotaped. They can say, well, this person missed that sometimes. As much as I prepare much as all of us on the staff prepare, you’re only human, and sometimes we make mistakes. And if a student challenges what we said you missed, what, what, why what? I screwed up, I gave the wrong information. I may have had that, you know, they said so tell me about your father’s family history and I said my my my father has diabetes or my my father had a stroke at certain age and I. Messed, I said the wrong thing that gives them totally different information. That’s a blood sugar thing or a heart heart problem. So it depending upon the case they will start diagnosing me in a different way and that’s just not fair to them and they I have to be on point as much as I can.
Fei Wu: Why is why is the consistency of your answers to be so important?
John Haggerty: Because they’re being graded. And they all the consistency of standardized is that everyone gets the same test. So instead of a piece of paper, I am the piece of paper, the human actors, the piece of paper that they’re being tested against. So I have to, even though every human being every every interaction is a little different because you can’t help, that’s energy. I have to still deal with the permutation and give the same verbal response. And sometimes you know they have to maintain. If I’ve got a stomach ache, they want my demeanor to be. I gotta go. Ah sometimes because they want they say, would you like can I do? Would you like me to dim the lights you want to? You want some water that’s positive points for them as a bedside manner? That’s good stuff. They want that students to do that. They want to incentivize them to learn that. But a lot of them don’t know what to do. If the patient patient they’re just trying to get the, it’s going to be really hard. I think it’s a miracle that doctors can. Walk in, meet a total stranger in 15 minutes. Say get very close to saying a headache means the difference between a brain tumor and you know you went out drinking last night. There’s a wide swath between that and this. By very precise questioning that you can come with the reasonable reason why that’s happening. I think that’s an amazing art form that doctors can do that so, and I know your family. Adam is in the doc. You know you’re all your family doctors, you know I, my respect for a great doctor is exponentially. Just blown out of proportion because it’s a very hard thing to do and not just the medicine. It’s the art form of interacting with another human being who’s in distress and they’re looking at you for please help me and. You you have an assembly line of patients all day and you got to figure it out and they’re depending upon you, I think there’s a lot of a lot of responsibility, so the part that I can play. As a person that can help future medical students become great doctors has been has been very satisfying in A and an ancillary kind of career to doing this. And I would I’d say about half of us. Or 2/3 of us on staff at this hospital at this medical school are are actors because that’s basically what we do. We memorize scripts. We try to maintain a character so they they, they do look to the acting pool in New York to fulfill this position.
Fei Wu: If I were, if they were listening, they, as in the administrator from New York or elsewhere, I would love for the actors to get a wild card to say, you know what? You’re off script now you’re going to scream. I want you to say. You’re screaming this person or scream with the doctor or be quiet. Shake it up and I think because that’s the that’s the first of all. That’s real life. And two, I, I find it really difficult to do that as a non actor actress to really just be like snap my finger you snap your finger and I be in that zone immediately. It’s really difficult for normal people to do and I think the medical students hopefully not to be graded on forever but for them to have that experience and to respond to that. I think it it would be tremendously helpful.
John Haggerty: To wit, I was one of the hardest days I’ve ever had doing this is that I had. I had to play a psychiatric case and this was based upon a real person and event. And it was the hardest because of what you were saying. You you have free reign to do what you want, interpret this character. This is the back story. It’s based was based upon a true story. This very high-powered executive was accused of perhaps molesting his 15 year old daughter and physically abusing his wife, shoving her up against the thing. So she up against the wall one morning and and he was apparently very high up in the ranks in his company, and he was used to having things his way basically. So they said, this is the guy he had. He had a very alpha, no one. Don’t listen to me. I’m always in charge of the room. And I’m smarter than everybody else, so they gave me a back story we had there. They took, they chose three guys, three men. They chose me and two other fellows. They briefed us before and they said you’re going. So you’re going to be being seen by a psychologist because the simulation is because the your wife called you. And you were picked up by the police because of what of shoving your wife up against the wall. And she called the police. So you’re the first. You are official. The doctor coming in as a state psychologist who wants to do an evaluation where where what we can do with you and you have to be toe tapping wearing a suit, looking at your watch and saying I’m missing meetings. I’ve got things to do. I don’t believe in psychologists go and whatever, whatever you want to make whatever you can do to rattle the student, we want you to do it. And I could not believe the stuff that came out of my mouth and they had no idea. All they knew was that this man, all they they, the students, all they knew was that this man. This is the situation. They had no idea of my personality or anything they had to find out that I that I was a high-ranking Vice president at a company and and after the first encounter. With a student who had gone to a. It would who was had gone to foreign medical school, and I disparaged the country it she she was, a woman, I disparaged her gender. I said everything that made her upset, but she her job was to keep it calm so they wanted to just like you were asking me, what can you do? But I remember that I had six of them all in succession, all different people that I had to figure out how to make them upset and I knew nothing about them. I had to make it up and in some ways there was a. Satisfying improv actor thing that Oh yeah I did that, but the after the first day after the first encounter after she walked out, I just remember leaning against the door and thinking I’m going to. I’m going to be sick. I cannot believe I said these things that came out of my mouth. No human being. I I, I just would never. I wasn’t. I wouldn’t even think these things but. Did the actor your actor brain, starts out playing this character and I’m gonna be this guy.
Fei Wu: Do you do feel like a apologizing to the person?
John Haggerty: Did I?
Adam Leffert: Did she’s out there?
John Haggerty: John, sorry I make this this all make believe and they actually the the medical staff after the day. This normally doesn’t happen but they brought the three of us in to debrief us because they knew we had to go through a little bit of getting it out of our system and talk about it and I don’t think I could ever do that day. Day because even though we all know a simulation. We’re all playing a role that even the the the medical students are playing a role. They it’s I walk the line up to reality of trying to play these characters because that’s the idea of it. And. I just I said I’m not this person and I I just felt very very tired and almost like sick inside at the end of it. So people who play. I I don’t know playing a character who has to be a really evil person day after day, and you know, eight shows on Broadway or in a movie. You know, every actor wants to. I could do it. I could do it, but I think could I really do that? Could I really do that stuff?
Fei Wu: It’s so fascinating. I mean this as bad as it sounds. I believe that happened. I forgot it was in the US or China, but somebody was playing an evil very evil role and the guy was getting not just hate mails, but like life threatening messages from. I mean is this as crazy as it sounds? I mean that guy must have done a really good job, but what I what it’s interesting to me that I think about all the time is people like yourself, John who is, you know, acting your whole life? I know you have other. Diverse, just like what you talked about, but you also happens to be you can be very dramatic in real life, but for the most part based on what I’ve seen, you’re very mellow. Like I don’t know if mellow is the right word, but why? I mean, why do you think that is like? What do you do to kind of offset that energy to be on stage all the time? I mean, especially when you’re in King and I like miss. I mean those are hardcore heavy duty stuff. Doesn’t matter which role you play like. What do you do on the side to kind of offset energy? And.
John Haggerty: Uh. Uh, I it used to be jogging it is still jogging but now in my. My early 50s. It becomes more jogging, walking, jogging, walking, stuff, stuff like that. I think we all find some sort of release physically. Uh, more, you know time time alone. I think some people have a problem with that, but I actually have I. I find a lot of solace. I’m just fine being by myself for. Maybe not days on end, but hours. Yeah, I I don’t need to talk to people I don’t need to be surrounded by it. In fact, that’s what I. That’s what I did between our our rehearsal today and the performance. But when I was called, I was I. I went jogging. I want I want across the. The bridge on the Willamette River and. Just I’d spent all that, I just need because I after I just needed the time to clear my head. So that’s my my decompression to ask you maybe asked about if anything you know getting getting back to being standardized, patient I I think it’s some ways in a very strange way. It’s been a very interesting acting class. Because of where it has, where it’s placed my listening skills. As a person to I am not actively trying to remember your responses to me and how what we’re doing, but when I’m at work at that medical school, I have to remember. Everything they say almost verbatim because sometimes I have to type it out on a computer checklist or tell them back O if I have a 10 minute 15 minute encounter with somebody. I have to remember my responses plus someone elses that requires a lot of intense listening and remembering. I’m remembering trying to remember what I said and remembering their response. Most people do not do that in life. You just have the 1212 back and forth back and forth.
Fei Wu: Hi there, this is Fei Wu and you’re listening to the Feisworld Podcast today on our show, meet John Haggerty, Broadway trained actor who uses his acting skills to teach medical students in New New New York City how to better interact with their patients.
Speaker 3: It’s even more difficult because like if you go to a job and you park in a similar parking space but not the same one, and you’re there five days a week, you can’t remember where you parked. So to do that once is tricky to do that with a series of people where those half a dozen or dozen conversations are similar. Because different Med students that’s got to be even harder.
John Haggerty: That’s the worst thing is that when the same 2 two people look similar come in back-to-back. And they say almost the same answer but one or two is different. I go. Oh oh, what did they say? That’s when you conflate that? That’s the that’s difficult for me. That’s really hard that that always happens, especially by the middle of the afternoon. Oh my God, did I get there? Did I get their names right? Did I get their answers right?
Fei Wu: But it’s something that you probably get better at right? I mean, how long have you been doing this? You have a.
John Haggerty: Couple of years, so it’s been. I’ve been getting better at it. Definitely. And to the credit of the school they they don’t. They just don’t train you and we all go through some training and simulations before they unleash us to the students, but they check up on us because they’re always watching us too. Not only students, but they are watching our performances and coach. I remember the first time I got a videotape back from. My boss’s boss. And she said, look at your answers. Look at your script. You know you, you, you you didn’t. You screwed this one up and I looked at it went Oh my God, I really and I’m thinking that was not too bad and I realized they are. I had. I’ve got to step up. This is their. This is their grades. This is whether or not they’re going to get their get. They get their degree whether they can pass the bar or not. And I think about that investment I have to there is committed to going to school and working their asses off. There and being doctors and I just go in for you know whatever 6 to 8 hours a day and and do my thing and they’re they’re up all day and all night for four years. And that’s before they become residents.
Adam Leffert: And you, so you’re sort of like the control in the in the experiment, like the control and the scientific experiment where the other things are variables. So you know, knowing you in real life, putting aside all modesty of of your own A frankly speaking, what sort of you know if it can be answered, what sort of a person should give this kind of a job a shot? And also to mention it isn’t something to do 40 hours a week, so somebody could do it, and as part.
John Haggerty: Of.
Speaker 3: And who shouldn’t do it? Just what kind of person do you think probably wouldn’t make it? And what kind of person like? Yeah, you should investigate this. This could be a good thing for you.
John Haggerty: Well, there are not all actor types have done this. I I I know that I was interested. I had a. I have a friend named Martin Martin Solo. If you’re out there. Who first turned me on to the idea he was doing it for a while and he’s now he works. He’s always working so he doesn’t do it as much anymore. Uh, But then I started applying to schools and and trying to get an audition because they do. They do audition people and they’re not slots. Depends upon the demographics of what they’re looking for, what, what, they need, a varied, they know they need the planet because of different diseases and different things that happen to people. So we are very, very different. Kind of a staff where where I’m at and. If if you’re not, if you don’t like to memorize. That’s one thing. Or if you don’t feel like you’re yeah that it’s helpful if you. If you’re not good with remembering words. That’s absolutely paramount. So that’s why the medical schools go after the acting pool, because there’s kind of a discipline and a experience of doing that, and also a little bit of a volition, I thought. I said OK, I just a way to make money, but then when I got exposed to it really about what’s going on in the. Why is this? Why your standardized patients programs there? They’re they’re at the heart for. For for helping helping medical students become full-fledged doctors and making their their trip ups. In school, where it should happen rather than out in the rather than out in the field, you don’t want to be that patient who who has a Doctor Who who, who’s never encountered you. I want in my in my most. Highfalutin way of why this is good for the planet is that it gives everyone a chance. To to have a trial run like we’re doing trial runs. We have a week of trial runs before an official opening and and we are. There’s some mistakes being done in our show that the director is catching and we’re constantly fiddling with it. Everyone should get a chance to do that, especially people who are in charge of human lives. And if I can be a part of that then they think that’s that’s just a wonderful kind of. Psychic payoff
Fei Wu: you know to close on a tougher questions, but it’s going to be two-part question. I wonder what are some of the things that John you think the the world at large or the theaters or the sort of the actor communities can do for these working actors? You know whether people are entering into a where people who are working more on a part time or full time basis like what are? There’s a reason why I asked the question because I think. Like what my mom possesses. Like there’s a certain skill set that I witnessed you on these shows Les Mis, King and I and I know that our form is disappearing and I know in a way some of the audience. It’s also getting smaller, but I think there that it’s a very precious form of sort of a human art form that need to be preserved. So I wonder if there’s anything that we can actually do. You know that there’s no limit by there’s no right or wrong answers.
John Haggerty: All of us, every human being is an artist because we have those questions in our minds about. What’s great, what’s terrible, but watching someone else interpret it, either through a painting or music or performance, or. Whatever a computer program you know programming. It’s it’s all a. It’s a way of you coming back to yourself and recognizing everyone’s. Constantly asking of the question. So if we all sat in our own little bubbles and didn’t go to museums or concerts. Or theater or go to movies. Rent Netflix, whatever. If we didn’t have any access to that and any people doing that. Then we’d have to live in them, perhaps in our own little islands and. Re digest stuff over and over and then it becomes incestuous in our brains about who we are, what we’re what we’re supposed to be doing here in our in our small time on the planet. And sometimes when you see something it just when you see someone else’s idea of something that I’ve been thinking about you. Your brain cracks open or your heart cracks open and you you go. Oh I get it, this is how I can apply this to my life and. I never thought of it that way and let’s. And I can add this to my life or subtract it. I I was a fool for thinking that for so many years. So in some ways when we see something that that we were moved by or respond to, it’s it’s like a someone has come up with a way of thinking about it in a very distilled form. Sometimes I think. What is the true enjoyment of of acting or being in a in some sort of public performance of telling a story? One of the things I find so interesting, so amazing about being in in in a play. Is because we are expected to produce some sort of. Something for people to watch and to experience from zero. In a very short amount of time, and that journey is when I’m in it, I always find it really interesting, so that’s what keeps me going. Certainly it’s not the you know it’s it’s not being showered with flowers or signing autographs. That’s never happened to me, and it’s never really been interesting to me, and certainly money. I mean, I get paid a living wage and I’m I’m happy to be in Portland, but it if it was about that, then I would be very disappointed. But it has to be a. A deeper psychic reason about being a human being.
Fei Wu: And I, I think it’s we’ve talked a lot like in this past hour or so, and I think there is a new future that exists for people with your set of skills and level commitment and love for the arts is through companies you know, like medical schools or law firms. And these companies not only need you, they also have the financial means to really provide people. With the right opportunities, this is not again, not charity, that they need you in a way more than you need them right? Because the skills that you have is replaceable. That takes training, and I think that message is so strong and I think especially for people out there, anybody pursuing any forms of art and putting something that they create out there to say I made this, you know and to my put my name on it, I think it’s such an. Such an act of bravery in this sense, and that we are so conditioned to not do that to never do that.
John Haggerty: Yes, you’re right. You’re absolutely right.
Fei Wu: Yeah, and for you to put yourself out there, I always. I remember precisely that moment where when I raised my hand, I when I did really well in school, particularly math, I was really good at math until it was about 3rd or 4th grade. I stopped raising my hand because my teacher told me not to. My teachers told me not to not even my classmates, and said don’t forget that. Poor girl, you’re a woman and your hormone will not even hormone. I didn’t know what that word meant, but she said biologically you’re going to lose that edge very soon and the boys will exceed you. I mean, this is late 80s.
John Haggerty: That’s crazy.
Fei Wu: That is crazy, but in one form or the other. Maybe not in those exact words because it’s not at all acceptable today’s society and it did happen to kids growing up in the 80s and I sort of, you know, I I definitely remember putting down my hands on do that again. So now I’m so I love. Talking to people like you to to relearn. I’m still in the process of relearning all that you know.
John Haggerty: Yeah, I’m glad you said something like that, it’s. It’s always a reminder. The very every every show and certainly last night when we had our first show we were all, I think the the cast were all so happy to have that audience. This show is not well, no one’s ever done that we had no idea what, how, how the artist is going to react. We had no. Intercourse with an audience with how, how? How do we. How are these lines gonna land? What are they? What’s their? How’s going to come across? So there was a a top spin of nervousness. I would say with certainly with me I can’t speak on anybody else but I’m sure they had a little bit and it’s the first 5 minutes like feels like when you walk out on stage I don’t say anything for about 5 minutes. And I’m frozen, but I feel like my my blood is ice water. And I’m doing nothing but my heart. My heart rate is I’m just thinking, breathe, breathe. You got this it’s just say a line that’s all I have to do and what you’re talking about before about you’re not being told that you can’t do this you can’t do this I keep forgetting that that the audience wants you to do this people want you to do this be the podcast people want you to succeed they want you to they want to see you fly, it exalts them. To see. To see greatness happen, because then we can attach vicariously. We can attach our wings to that and I just brought our brains seem to fall into. Nope. Nope, Nope. I can’t don’t deserve this. I’m going to fuck it up. I shouldn’t be here. It’s all a big mistake and turning that turning that switch off because I think I’m going to be a little bit magnanimous about that. I think human beings want other human beings to do well.
Fei Wu: I think that’s such a positive message, and that’s really precisely what I needed and what I heard from another colleague to launch the first episode is that he literally said people in this restaurant. They’re all eating away their sushi. He’s like they want you to succeed. I’m like no. I was thinking, no, they don’t. They don’t care and I realize what if he’s right? What if that’s even a maybe? Maybe I should push that button. It gives you a little. I think we all need a little bit of a momentum, right? I think it means so much that I read stories about. People even thinking about committing suicide and then hearing the positive word from another child walking back from school and being able to save their lives. And it’s like I think it’s. That is huge. I mean, I don’t.
John Haggerty: Wanna yeah, well that sounds like a that’s like a good quote at all of this. Yeah and Adam summed it all up.
Fei Wu: I think he did it. Thank you, John.
John Haggerty: Thank you guys. Thanks for coming out. Thank you.