A rron Shiver was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 40 some years ago, and spent a great deal of his youth in Taos.
Here is where he discovered acting quite early on in life at high school with famed Taos High School drama teacher Nancy Jenkins, and in the rich community theater that has long thrived here. He was married for several years, to artist Anaïs Rumfelt (who appears on our cover with their son, Jackson). He has appeared in many motion pictures and television shows, as well as onstage. He lives in Los Angeles but visits often. His mother, Melody Swann, founder of Cowgirls Design, still lives here, and Jackson Shiver splits his time between LA and Taos.
You have been in Los Angeles during the COVID-19 crisis - can you tell us a bit about the experience? How has it changed your day-to-day life?
When this whole thing went down I was just at the beginning of an 11-month recovery on a knee surgery, so I was already laying pretty low. But this thing has even a lazy bum like me turned around - I picked up cycling, great exercise, and I've been cooking a lot - my son is in Taos, but I've been helping him stay caught up on classes via Facetime. American History has been our favorite. Quite the brain on that kid. Oh, and I've finally finished Karl Ove Knausgård's six-part autobiography "My Struggle" (recommended) - a long day's journey into the brain of a Norwegian Gen Xer with some pretty major father issues. So - light reading.
You are a working actor, sometime director and producer, as well as a writer - in which direction does the muse appear to be pulling you these days?
Oh, wow. Thank you for calling me a working actor. It's really all I've ever wanted to be. I decided a long time ago that I wanted to live my life in the theater. For me, that has meant acting/writing/directing/producing/teaching in the worlds of film, TV or theater, any and all. Which one I'm doing at the moment matters less than it used to, but I've become a better writer (I think), and those doors have opened a little more in recent years, so I'm trying to walk through them.
But in the end, it's all the same, whether I'm making up the stories or interpreting them, as much as I can I'm looking to find the simplest, most true thing, and ride that sucker all the way to the promised land. I've even been writing songs and starting to play those out here and there. Another type of theater.
You have a couple of poems in the spring issue of the Taos Poetry Journal, one of which was written about Sam Shepard, whom you ran into frequently during the years he lived in Santa Fe, and often visited Taos - can you tell us a bit about that particular poem?
Ah yes - poetry - another muse! Taos Journal of Poetry were kind enough to publish me alongside some very accomplished and wonderful writers. I wrote that poem "My Hero" to commemorate one of my theater heroes. If I look back at the bits of my own writing I'm proud of, and even some of the acting, to be honest, I can see a direct link to Sam, so it shook me when he passed. I pretty much had read all of his stuff, and it had a tremendous effect on me. formed me, in a lot of ways.
So when he passed away back in 2017, I was in LA, and we all sat around drinking tequila and reading his lines out loud, and everything I remembered about my interactions with him came out. This poem was an offshoot of that. Stuff I remembered from that time. Funny stuff, mainly. Almost fights, a lot of drinking, some wonderful advice he gave me about acting. At that time he usually would rather talk about horses than acting. He had worked hard and he had worked a long time, and all he really wanted to do by the time I met him, as far as I could tell, was fish and ride horses, and ... well, some other stuff. Read the poem! There's some really great writers in there - John Biscello has this great poem about Sylvia Plath. (See taosjournalofpoetry.com/issue-12.)
After lockdown, what's next on your creative agenda?
I want to do an EP of my songs, probably record in Taos with a few musician buddies who have been pushing me to get my stuff out there, then I got a couple scripts I'm trying to sell, and then there's a movie I wrote I want to come back to Taos and direct, sometime in the next couple years, a multigenerational western (one of those aforementioned things I'm proud of). What else - I don't know, I'm finally getting old enough to play a slightly grizzled detective, so if anybody wants to hire me to do that, I'll take it.