Saturday, January 21, 2017

Spotlight On...James Edward Becton

Name: James Edward Becton

Hometown: Youngstown, NY by way of Buffalo, NY

Education: BFA from Niagara University.

Favorite Credits: Some of my favorite and most memorable credits include Have Mercy by Mac Rogers where I played the role of Professor Hubbens. This was the very last production of the now defunct Manhattan Theatre Source! "The Source" was a true home away from home which is sorely missed. Another was Macbeth (Of the Oppressed) produced by Fab Marquee where I dropped into the role of Witch Two. I was honored to embody the role of Edmund in King Lear starring Trazana Beverley, and Jake Worthington in the production of The Importance of Being Earnest which took place in 1920's Harlem. Both productions were produced by Take Wing and Soar.  Most recently I closed an enlightening production of Erik Ehn's Clover produced by Planet Connections and La MaMa ETC, where I breathed life into Louis, the father of Emmett Till. That was in particular an eye-opening experience where I gained a new family of over thirty people. Speaking of eye-opening experiences, I've literally just closed a resurrected WWII variety show called The Blueprint Specials which was graciously presented to the public courtesy of Waterwell Productions and The Public Theater.  The show was presented on the U.S.S. Intrepid which was an experience that I'll not soon forget not only as a performance artist, but as a U.S. Veteran. 

Why theater?: Theater truly saved my life. I know that's a severe statement, but it's a true one that'll take more time and space to express than this interview allows. But I can say that had it not been for theater arts, I would not be the man that I am today. Theater gave me a voice and a true purpose in life as a human being. Much like getting The Call to serve The Church, I was called to be an actor. I live for it. I love it.

Who do you play in Cardiff?: I play nine various roles/voices.

Tell us about Cardiff:  Cardiff is the performance piece based on a transcript from interviews held around a piece of art in the early seventies in Cardiff, South Wales.

What is it like being part of Cardiff?: Cardiff is exactly art imitating life, and it's beautiful. We are embodying real people with real voices who had real opinions. What I find so fascinating is that the opinions expressed from 1972 echo voices that you would certainly hear today.  It is a slice of REAL LIFE, albeit from the '70's. It is still timeless.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: The type of theater that appeals to me the most is any that takes the audience on a real thought-provoking journey. Something that makes them think about LIFE and how very REAL it is. Theater is one of those art forms that is expressed for purposes of making people look at the world objectively. As an actor, I consider myself to be a mirror of society and have an honored responsibility to present real life situations in a created environment. If an audience member leaves the space with new thoughts, then my job has been done. What inspires me are the playwrights/screenwriters who have the gift of putting life onto paper for voices to express them. When there is TRUTH expressed in the form of a script, that's invigorating to say nothing of it being fulfilling! I love being a body for never-before-seen or heard realities. The people who inspire me the most are Samuel L. Jackson and Morgan Freeman. They are two artists who have built solid and honest careers that stand the test of time! Anthony Hopkins, Gary Oldman and Denzel Washington! Their abilities to transform into truths that aren't necessarily their own is awe-inspiring.  Issa Rae and Donald Glover for giving a voice and perspective of a people that deserve to be seen as human.

Any roles you're dying to play?: This is easy. Tom Collins in Rent! I was called back fourteen times for that role in the late '90's. But after having a candid conversation with Bernard Telsey, I realized I was not ready as a human being. I am now! As an actor, I'm not so sure that my role has come about just yet. My range is broad and I've been told by many casting people that they just don't know what to do with me. I am not a "type" and in this industry, people find it far easier if you are a type. To that end, I'm patiently working towards having the role created for me!

What’s your favorite show tune?: My favorite show tune? I don't have a singular favorite one. But there are three that come to mind: "Heaven on Their Minds" from Jesus Christ Superstar. "I Need to Know" from Jekyll and Hyde, and "Wait for It" from Hamilton.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: The Dirden Brothers. Kevin Spacey. Viola Davis. Issa Rae. Donald Glover. Denzel Washington. Morgan Freeman. Meryl Streep. Helen Mirren. The list can go on, and on, and on.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: As a "working actor" in the city, I can say that I've not been so privileged to see a lot of theater. If It's not because I'm in the middle of a project myself, or that I'm just not fiscally able to see things. That said, there's not been a lot for me to recommend, other than the pieces that I am in. But I've heard Hamilton is really worth seeing. *wink

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?:  I would love to go back in time and see the productions at the Globe and experience Shakespeare's genius up close and personal.  Also, I would thoroughly enjoy seeing the original Broadway production of Hair!

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?:  NAPS!!! Taking naps are my biggest guilty pleasure!

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?:  I would be a psychologist. The human condition is always of interest to me. I think that it is my love and interest in people that drew me to theater in the first place. To be able to step into the psyche of another human being is one of the finest ways of getting to know myself and others and for that, I am grateful.