Finding More About Myself Through the Eyes of a Dwarf

The cast of The Hobbit which plays at The Players Guild Theatre of Canton

The cast of The Hobbit which plays at The Players Guild Theatre of Canton. Photo Credit to Michael Lawrence Akers.

Today is the final Friday performance for The Hobbit at The Players Guild Theatre in Canton Ohio.  This show has been very special to me and has taught more about myself as a performer than any show to date.

I have always considered myself an entertainer (usually excelling more in musical theatre roles because what I lacked in acting talent I could make up with a decent singing voice and ability to move reasonably well).  This show took me out of that familiar element.  It had to.

The Hobbit “Touring Edition” is a small cast version of the larger than life fantasy by J.R.R. Tolkien adapted by Markland Taylor.  It has been condensed for a cast of only 6 actors.  The three main characters in this version are Bilbo, Gandalf and Thorin.  They are the only three that remain the same character throughout the show.  The other three actors average 6-7 roles a piece including trolls, goblins, elves, etc.

When auditioning, I absolutely wanted to be cast in an ensemble role.  I believed that my own abilities would allow me to morph in and out of the supplemental roles with ease.  I also love voice acting and this play certainly would allow me to experiment with different voices.  This would be my way to ‘entertain’ the crowd.  I certainly do not have the chops to play one character with any level of emotional journey through the show, I thought.

Truth be told, I was a little saddened when the cast list came out and I was cast as Thorin.  The feeling only got worse after the first read-through when I realized that the superficial characterization of Thorin by Taylor in this version was somewhat of a whiny wuss.

But throughout the process, and I have Micah Harvey and the other talented actors of this cast to thank for this, I realized that the true acting and  storytelling came in between my lines. I was encouraged more than ever before to explore the motivations, thoughts and feelings of my character.  Even more, Micah encouraged me throughout to embrace the role of antagonist to Bilbo.  So the better I would do, the better I would make Bilbo’s story too.

I still have a long way to go when it comes to consistently delivering the emotions of the character.  But, I believe that I saw a few glimmers through the rehearsal process and the performances that let me know that I can do this.  When everything is clicking and I am truly immersed in the character, there is no better feeling.

I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to be in this show and for the personal growth and confidence that I have gained from it.  I feel like I can call myself ‘actor’ now instead of ‘entertainer’ and this will be a huge benefit moving forward.

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