It’s finally here. The opening of EVITA! This night has been over a year in the making.
I first heard that my local theater company was doing EVITA in the summer of 2015. I had just completed a run of The Secret Garden and was humbled by the positive feedback I received. In fact, it was at this time that I realized that acting (in musicals specifically) was no longer just a hobby. It was something that I had been created to do. I’m not trying to sound all mystical or wax philosophical, but there is something that happens when you are in the moment on stage. You feel a sense of belonging. A sense of feeling at home. I knew that my life would be different from that point on.
Since then, I set out on a mission to work on my “craft” and was blessed to have the support of my wife. This past spring I added my first professional theater credit to my resume and, following EVITA, I will be adding two more.
Since July of last year, I’ve been doing my research for EVITA. This is one of the most enjoyable parts of the process for me. I listened to the soundtrack on repeat, I read about the history of the real people that were portrayed in this musical. I’ve challenged myself to find the connections between myself and the Argentine Marxist Revolutionary that I am portraying. Not an easy feat, especially when dealing with such a polarizing figure. I’ve been fascinated by the pop culture icon that Che Guevara has come to represent.
Many of those who brazenly adorn themselves with his visage have no idea the atrocities that this man committed in the name of the revolution. But on the other hand, those who condemn his inhumane acts would be surprised to discover the deep connection with the lower levels of human society that motivated Che. For instance, as a young medical student, Che traveled through poverty-stricken South America and provided free medical care to leper colonies. Seeing the hardships these people went through was what drove Che to abandon his stethoscope and pick up a weapon instead.
How does an actor tackle playing a historical figure, especially one so loved and loathed as Che Guevara?
Well, I once heard an interview with William H. Macy in which he said something to the effect of “In order to portray someone who is bad or is doing something wrong in an accurate way, you as the actor need to believe that he is not bad.” I take that to mean that you need portray it as though you are acting from a place of conviction, because more often than not, people who we perceive to be evil believe that they are acting rightly based on their core beliefs.
I recently watched a documentary called Chevolution, which detailed the origin of the iconic photograph of Che and its impact on the culture. I also have read his diaries as a young man, watched the film based on said diaries, and a 4 hour biopic called Che. I connected with the fact that Che had crippling bouts of asthma his entire life. I connected with the fact that he was a voracious reader and writer. I also connected with the fact that he cared so much about the plight of those in need in his country that he redirected the trajectory of his whole in life in order to do something about it. Now, while I connected with his motivation, I abhor the eventual methods he used to bring about what he perceived to be a necessary revolution.
All of these things will hopefully inform my portrayal but that is for the audience and critics to decide. For me, I am challenged by the fact that there are people in this world, whether good or evil, who believe in something so wholeheartedly that they are willing to die for it. Is the same true in my life?
This is why I became an actor, to dissect character, to broaden my perspective, to bring words on a page to life. And ultimately to bring the audience along on my journey of discovery, perhaps to allow them to see the world differently than they once did. There is nothing in all the world quite like it.
I hope you’ll come and see this production. I am truly proud to be a part of it.
November 4,5,11,12 @ 7:30pm
November 6,13 @ 2:00pm
Shannondell Performing Arts Theater
10000 Shannondell Drive
Audubon, PA 19403
Tickets available at the door or online