Thursday, August 7, 2014

Spotlight On...Cameron Mitchell Mason

Name: Cameron Mitchell Mason

Hometown: Baltimore, MD

Education: The American Musical and Dramatic Academy - Studio Program

Select Credits: Theater: The Tragedy at Hood: 14542 (FringeNYC), Kill the Messenger (Lower East Side Festival of the Arts); Bite Your Tongue (Theater for the New City), Measure for Measure (The Drilling Company), An Appeal to Heaven & Sloth Play (Rhapsody Collective) Film/TV: "Rivers Wash Over Me", "VEEP"

Why theater?: Right now, it’s a hopeful step towards a fledgling film and TV career. But I’ve always felt that live theater is the perfect training ground for actors. So much can happen on that stage, and in making those moments out of thin air, you’re really making magic right before the audience’s eyes. And it’s so collaborative, which might be my favorite part. Working with fellow crazy people to create crazy art. There’s nothing like it and I love being a part of something only an insane few can do.

Who do you play in The Tragedy at Hood: 14542?: Homey 2

Tell us about The Tragedy at Hood: 14542: The Tragedy at Hood: 14542 is this amazing, original piece that Deaon Griffin-Pressley (a fellow AMDA grad, might I add!) has written for this year’s Fringe Festival. He’s taken so many tropes of drama: romance, crime, tragedy, comedy and blended them into this story about a New York City neighborhood fighting to resist corporate intervention and gentrification. The black characters that inhabit this ghetto speak in this augmented Shakespearean verse that instantly elevates their status in the eyes of the viewer and help us to empathize with them. It’s a sly trick and it helps build an instantly heightened world.

What is it like being a part of The Tragedy at Hood: 14542?: I can’t believe I get to say lines like: “Sweet ho, where art the nookie residing tonight?” I feel like this play, the writer, the director, the cast are all making me a better actor just by really having fun with the words. It’s a really fun playground to work in. I’m finding the challenges exciting, like creating characters who fluctuate between being real people and slight caricatures. Being a part of an ensemble is really cool, too. You find yourself at rehearsal cheering on everyone else’s work and enjoying what the play will eventually become.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: Political theater is exciting to me, and that’s not necessarily plays about government, but plays about the politics of race, the politics of sex, the diplomacy of being polite at parties, all that stuff. I need my theater to say something about the times, or just to say SOMETHING. I like when there’s an opinion that the play is attempting to convey and I like it even better when that play upsets someone or makes them laugh or after the play,  on their ways home, the audience can’t stop talking about how that play made them feel. So, in summary, I like my theater to be good.

Any roles you’re dying to play?: Lincoln or Booth in Topdog/Underdog (but really any role in a Suzan-Lori Parks play for that matter...), Audrey II (the plant) in Little Shop of Horrors, Bobby in Company, Romeo in Romeo & Juliet... I guess that’s enough for now.

What’s your favorite showtune?:
[Top 3]
3. “Marry Me a Little” // Company (Musical theater b-side!)
2. “The Dance at the Gym” // West Side Story (I know it’s mostly instrumental, but that truly beautiful, son!)
1. “Home” // The Wiz

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Suzan Lori-Parks has been an inspiration to me ever since I read Topdog/Underdog and Fucking A. I once appeared in a reading of Fucking A as Jabber and just reading the words aloud had my mind spinning. Her theatrical style, her fearlessness, her shit gives me goosebumps.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: I’d play myself like Fantasia in the (unfortunately actual) Lifetime TV movie of her life.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: I’ve always said in the summer, get out to The Public’s Shakespeare In The Park in Central Park. I’ve seen some awesome productions there: Hamlet, Hair, Into the Woods... I took my girlfriend to see this year’s production of Much Ado About Nothing and it may have been the best Shakespeare I’ve seen, There’s also John Lithgow’s King Lear. I also once appeared in The Drilling Company’s Measure for Measure some years ago and they have a great set-up in the Lower East Side, Shakespeare In The Parking Lot with the same bombast and quality, but on more of a D.I.Y. level.

What’s the most played song on your iTunes?: “Pink Matter” // Frank Ocean

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Musical theater, probably.

What’s up next?: I have a commercial coming out in August for a big company’s anniversary campaign that they won’t let me talk about. A short film I wrote about young NYC artist, Technodrome1 should be is about half-shot now and should be premiering in the coming months. Also, I’ve been developing a sitcom about black hipsters called "BLIPSTERS" for a while now, but I’m very close to kicking some things into gear on that front. I’m definitely trying to get my face on television very soon, so be on the lookout!