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Julian Wiles, Founder and Producing Artistic Director
Marybeth Clark, Associate Artistic Director

March 10, 2010

Acting in Ferdinand the Bull, by Charleston Stage Resident Actor Justin Tyler Lewis

Filed under: Back Stage Blog — julianw @ 3:02 pm

One of the most exciting and challenging parts of being a Resident Actor here at Charleston Stage is the number of different styles of theatre in which we rehearse and perform throughout the year.  One month we are performing a high-paced musical narrative, the next month we are performing a dry, tongue-in-cheek, British comedy, and then we move on to Shakespeare.  Ferdinand the Bull constitutes yet another style of theatre.  The real challenge in performing children’s theatre – or theatre-for-children as it were – is in the willingness, on the part of the performers, to allow the young audience to participate in the creation of the theatrical moment as much as a not-young audience.  Sometimes it is easy, as a performer and teacher, to turn my nose up and condescend to young actors and audiences.  However, moments can come to life with equal potency and charm in Ferdinand as they do in Twelfth Night or Cabaret; and the young audience member who helped create that moment may value the magic of that moment with more enthusiasm than the best adult audience member. 

With that said, performing in theatre-for-children, and Ferdinand specifically, has been largely about building moments that young audience members are willing to support and follow – building a ship that this particular audience is willing to climb aboard.  This effort has manifested in our focus as a cast on moment-to-moment action and throughline.  Ferdinand doesn’t have the glitz and size of Christmas Carol, but it certainly has another built-in advantage: the audience gets to know four entirely unique and distinct characters.  No audience will be able to walk out of a performance of Ferdinand referring to any of the characters as “background characters” because each of us has an opportunity to interact with the audience in a distinct and memorable fashion.  In preparation for this type of interaction we have, as a company of four actors and one director, placed special emphasis on foiling each other.  My character, Duquito Danilo, is unique in his contrast to his father Duke Dodo – fellow Resident Actor James Lombardino.  And so, we have essentially created our characters to fit like puzzle pieces into the great Ferdinand the Bull puzzle.


Justin Tyler Lewis as Duquito Danilo in Ferdinand and the Bull.


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