As the year is coming to a close, a friend of mine asked me what my new year’s resolutions were. I said I didn’t really want to make any. In 2011, I just want to procrastinate less and DO MORE! I want to take my career to the next level. I will begin to update my blog with what I’m reading. One of the most valuable things to develop this craft is reading. Being worldly and well-read enhances how accessible all sorts of characters and story lines you will be able to live in.
With that being said, recently on my trip to LA I picked this up:
Here is an excerpt from the back cover:
“In 1821, forty years before Lincoln ended slavery, and fifty years before black Americans earned the right to vote, the first black theatrical group in the country, the African Company of New York, was putting on plays in downtown Manhattan theatre to which both black and white audiences flocked. Earning their bread with satires of white high society, the company came to be known for debunking the sacred status of the English classics (which many politically and racially motivated critics said were beyond the scope of black actors). Inside the company’s ranks, similar debates rage about whether to mimic the English tongue, or to provide a more lively interpretation of white theater by acknowledging the vibrancy of the black experience (in the words of the African Company’s manager: “say ya Shakespeare like ya want.”) Shakespeare is the chosen cultural battleground in this inventive retelling of a little known, yet pivotal even in the African Company’s history. Knowing they are always under prejudicial pressures from white society, and facing their own internal shakeups, the African Company battles for time, space, audiences and togetherness. ”
As I read this play I began to think about all the black actors who are classically trained and what exactly does it mean to be classical black actor. I still have more research and reading to be do on this subject. In December’s issue of American Theatre Magazine there was great article on John Douglas Thompson by Edward Karam. Mr. Douglas is a black classical actor who has done over 25 Shakespeare plays. It was very interesting to learn that going to see Joe Turner’s Come and Gone at Yale Repertory Theatre when he was 24 is what inspired him to become an actor. In March of 2011 he will star in Macbeth here in New York City! I need to get my hands on tickets to go see this exceptional actor. This past May I went on a trip with the theatre program I graduated from, Youth Onstage! and saw Mr. Thompson perform in The Forest by Alexander Ostrovsky, adapted by Kathleen Tolan; directed by Brian Kulick.
So in 2011, I will read more and see more plays! I will continue to bask in the beauty of this art called theater. “To Be or Not Be, That is the question.”