I’m asking veteran local actors to name five dream roles and say why. The answers not only reveal aspirations, they may put an idea in the minds of artistic directors and producers – even choices that may seem outside the box.
Craig Noel Award-winner Mark Christopher Lawrence
“Every actor has a list of plays and/or characters they would like to play — and feel they’ve challenged themselves to the fullest. I am no different. I even have a list of playwrights: Shakespeare, Chekhov, Brecht, Ibsen, Fugard, Molière, and Shepard. Here’s my acting bucket list in no particular order.”
1.) Othello, Othello, by William Shakespeare. “This is the play and character all African-American actors with Shakespearean chops would die to play. A character so passionate and loving and kind and yet so blinded by jealousy that he goes against his instincts and all that he knows to be true to follow a path of rage to self-destruction.”
2.) Iago, Othello, by William Shakespeare. “I also would embrace the role of Iago. He’s the driving force that fuels Othello’s rage. Driven by jealousy, Iago is a beautifully complicated character: passive aggressive, loyal and treacherous, and he knows what he wants and sets in motion a scheme to get it. Personally I think the humor of this role is often overlooked, and I’d love to explore that in him.”
3.) Richard III. “Yeah…of Shakespeare’s histories, this is my favorite. ‘I that am curtail’d of this fair proportion, Cheated of feature by dissembling Nature, Deform’d unfinish’d, sent before my time into this breathing world, scarce half made up…’ Richard blames the universe for his deformities but does not let his deformities hinder him. He’s driven! This is a great character to play and I absolutely love the language.”
4.) Walter Lee, A Raisin in the Sun, by Lorraine Hansberry. “Walter Lee is seemingly a very selfish character at first glance, but his intentions are good. He wants to be the man of this family. His immaturity at the onset appears to be his undoing. But by play’s end he’s gone through enough to mature just enough to do the right thing. Although I’ve played this character recently, I feel like I didn’t exhaust the role. There is plenty left there to explore.”
5.) All ten of August Wilson’s Cycle plays. “August is one of the most important playwrights in history. He won two Pulitzer Prizes in writing these ten plays about African-American life. His musical dialogue, which he describes as being set to a jazz pentameter, is thrilling and provocative. Although I’ve played Gabriel in Fences and Boy Willie in The Piano Lesson (and I definitely want another crack at him!), there are many characters in this extraordinary cycle that I want to play. My career would not be complete without playing a role in all of these plays. In fact, I could spend the rest of my life playing these roles and die with a smile, knowing that I’ve done some important work.”