Russell and I watched Avery Brooks, Arthur Bartow, Elain Graham and Wendell B. Franklin in a reading of a new play, The Montfort Point Marine, written by Samm-Art Williams. The play focused on a retired Marine who belonged to the Montfort Point Marines, the first black company in the USMC started in WWII. In the story, the former Marine (is there such a thing?) leaves the Corps to study music at North Carolina Central University. The play reflects on his time as a Marine, a would-be classical singer, a husband and a father.
I learned a very valuable lesson about staged readings watching that show. While the three other actors surrounding Mr. Brooks did a fine job doing their readings, Mr. Brooks performed. That man acted all the way down to his fingernails. There were times when he was almost convulsing from all the energy flowing through his body. It was as though he could barely contain himself in the chair he had to sit in, as if he could barely keep himself from taking the whole stage. During the play he sang about 10 songs, from opera to spirituals; his voice is tremendous. My lesson - don't miss any opportunity to perform. Otherwise, as an actor, you're only doing your job half way.
I hope the play comes to Broadway. It would be a worthy story.
After the reading we went to Times Square to see Precious. Mo'Nique plays the mother, an angry, vicious, violent woman. SPOILER ALERT: The film ends with an incredible monologue where Mo'Nique's character lays out all her baggage about her daughter's incest for everyone to see. Mo'nique's performance was AMAZING, incredible, painful...she went deep inside to find that piece.
After the film ended, Russell and I sat in the theater talking about what she must have gone through to access that dark place. We both talked about what we had in our past that would rival the emotion of that performance. The more I learn about Russell the more I respect him so much, especially knowing how together he is now (Russell, you always just blow me away). I'm not sure how I would get myself there. I can go to pain and I can cry with no problem. But going to that angry place is difficult, I think because I've spent my life learning to contain anger. I'm not sure I would know how to let it go in a project. I guess I'll find out some day.