All the great ones will tell you: you have to get inside your character and stay there. That’s what Orinda Starlight Village Player Ken Sollazzo did – even as two Orinda police officers were taking him away Friday night.
Sollazzo, a perfectly respectable guy and apparently a really committed actor, was deep into his role as a homeless man, mingling with the audience and his fellow actors during Friday’s Orinda Starlight Village Players performance of Arias, a romantic comedy enjoying a nice run at the Orinda Community Park amphitheater.
He was on hand as the audience filed in, so deep into his role that people who knew him failed to recognize him as he begged for change and slurred, apparently playing his role so convincingly someone else in the audience dropped a dime on him – that is, calling Orinda police to have him removed.
Witnesses said some people thought the two Orinda officers who responded to the call were actors and part of the play – until they saw their very real sidearms and realized art was no longer imitating life.
One Orindan present for Sollazzo’s big scene said Director Jill Gelster actually ran after him, intoning the words most directors only dream of, shouting: “Unhand my actor!” as Sollazzo, still in character, was dragged away.
Sollazzo returned later to finish the play in another assigned – and better dressed – role, after police realized what they were dealing with and released him on his own recognizance.