Mad Men
The Rich Sommer Interview

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"He Wants To Be A Guy, But Also Wants To Be A Man"
RS: No, they invited us to make it an official Concordia organization, and I asked, well, would the performers still get to keep the money from the performances they're doing? And they said no, and I said, well, then, no. [both laugh] 'Cause it was my only job in college, was that improv group. We were the Upper Minnesota slash North and South Dakota's only, or whatever it was. CB: That was your first hard negotiation! RS: [both laugh] That's right. Drawing up my own contract. CB: But in college, you studied acting, then. RS: I did. CB: Was it an acting school? RS: Not at all. Concordia College is a liberal-arts college with a pretty small theater program -- I mean, well, everything's small, it's only like, twenty-five hundred students in the college, total. The theater department is small, and it's not like, it's not known as a training ground for actors. It's more like, well, you're getting a liberal arts degree, and you're interested in theater, so. CB: So what was your first step out of college? RS: Right after college, I went and worked at a radio station, on a Top 40 morning show in Minneapolis. I started as kind of an intern/phone answerer guy, and I quickly kind of ascended the ranks, and they had me on air as part of this morning-show gang. And I did that for about six months, and then went off to some kind of odd jobs as I auditioned for community-theater stuff, and as I was doing those odd jobs I kind of got to a point where I was hating my life, so I called my theater professor from college and asked how I would get into grad school. And he told me to buy an American Theatre magazine and look at the schools listed in there, so I did, and about eight months after that I was in grad school. CB: And where did you land for grad school? RS: It's called Case Western Reserve University, in Cleveland. Also not known for its theater program, but it has a tiny masters program for actors -- eight actors every two years, and it's a three-year program. So the first year you have the third-years there, and the second year you're by yourself, and the last year you're the third-years and another class comes in. And it's affiliated with the Cleveland Playhouse, which is just down the street, so you leave with your Equity card, and, I mean…I absolutely stand by the training in that program. I think it's a really fantastic little gem that not enough people know about.

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