Black Box Theater

I have a small part, it’s true, but the company is really good and it is nice to work with such established people again. With all of the theater and film work I have done since moving to New York, there has been a sense of desperation to it, a sort of energized, exciting desperation to be sure, but no-one really seems to be on safe footing.

The show is called ‘A Soldier’s Play’ by Charles Fuller, and the Black Spectrum theater is putting it on. I auditioned because I wanted to do a show with people that I normally wouldn’t get to spend time with, and sure enough Jamaica, Queens is not a place I normally hang out.

The cast is really extraordinary. When I came in and auditioned, I saw the gym and the basketball court and all the kids and it felt more like a rec center or a Mormon church than a theater, so I didn’t take it that seriously. But every single person in the cast is either quite good (and incredibly talented), or amazing (and incredibly talented). If you are ever wondering which of your fellow castmates is the slow one and you can’t decide, you better check yourself.

Instead of it being a community theater, it is a theater wholly embraced by the community. Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis are presenting one show, and they are already starting to sell out the run. It’s a four hundred seat auditorium, nowhere near public transit, and they are selling out. Most of the cast is union, all of the facilities are top rate, and the talent that surrounds me at each rehearsal is incredible. This is not just a show that can get me warmed up for my next production and expand Gideon’s fan base. This is a show I would hope people would come see even if I wasn’t in it.

There are 12 men in this cast, and the only two women are the director and stage manager. The amazing thing is that, despite the fact that we are all loud and obnoxious theater people, the two ladies rule the roost with quiet dignity. Bette, the director, speaks just above a whisper, but she is so fantastically intelligent that we stop talking the second we see her mouth start to move.

There are small parts for three white actors, but we are in no way excluded from the ensemble as a whole. There is a sort of division, inately, between officers and enlisted men, but not between black and white. I go to the gym every day because I believe you should immerse yourself in situations where you are the below average person as much as possible, it’s the best way to expand yourself. And I wanted to join a black cast to expand myself as well. Stupid, it turns out, because these guys are just great actors, like me, and we are all just playing parts. It’s extremely gratifying.