It’s not very often I get to cross a play off the every expanding bucket list of dream shows, but this Friday I get to do just that, playing “The Young Collector” in Tennessee Williams’s A Streetcar Named Desire at the Zephyr Theatre in Stillwater, Minnesota.
Not only is Streetcar a dream show, but it’s very truly the play that made me want to become a dramatic actor. I was fourteen and only just figuring out what this whole “theatre” thing was, when I was in Target perusing the DVD aisle and laid eyes on the 1951 film version. For the life of me, I can’t tell you what possessed me to cough up twenty bucks, but that’s just what I did. I went home and fell in love with everything about it. Every actor, every line and every shot is still burned into my conscious (whether for good or bad) and it’s been at least ten years since I’ve even watched it! Nevertheless, it kick started my passion for the stage and the yearning to become even half of what those actors were made of.
Through the years since then, my career has gone down a winding road where I have played some thrilling parts and worked with so many amazing artists. The only thing I can say right now, looking back, is that I wish there was more of those shows like Streetcar – those American dramas that dominated the scene in the mid-20th century; where the words of Williams, O’Neill, Miller and Odets are laden with pure poetry, searing stakes and inspiring themes of humanity*. Now don’t get me wrong, I love new plays and read them often, but it’s the true standout who packs as strong a punch as those titans of the typewriter.
That’s what’s been so undeniably joyous about working on Streetcar. That I can reconnect with those playwrights (and screenwriters) who left such a mark on me as a teenager. I may be playing The Young Collector, but he’s going to have a real Terry Malone fire burning inside him! And you know what? It hasn’t been hard to find that! Even for a character with “only” sixteen lines, Tennessee Williams is so gifted that he’s given me a wealth of detail to legitimately answer Hagen’s Nine Questions. Seriously, I
have had to infer or make up very little in regards to my background, given circumstances, what I want and what I’m going to do to get it.
What a gift that is for any actor, and truly makes you believe there are no small parts. Keeping that in mind, I cannot wait to show the world this Young Collector and be a part of something as magnificent as A Streetcar Named Desire.
*With that said, I have been fortunate to appear in Our Town, The Matchmaker, The Diary of Anne Frank, Of Mice and Men and The Trip to Bountiful. All classics of that inspired era!