A Behanding in SpokaneCurrent ProductionsEditorial

Becoming Carmichael: An Insightful Piece by Steve James

By July 26, 2013 No Comments
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Becoming Carmichael

“What …..the F***…am I supposed…to do…with ….this?”

Carmichael

 

We have all learned our own ways toward fulfilling a character onstage, and mine are probably no different than anyone else’s: Learn the lines, say them out loud for weeks as you realise the guy’s speech pattern, outlook, and communication skills. How could his life up to the point of being discovered onstage by an audience have informed the person he is? Of course, all that delicious raiding of the Emotion Box to flesh out his reality is fun, too.

These tasks work for whatever part I have played: The manager of a French Revolution-era asylum, or the Victorian-age parent trying to square his life with his swinging 60’s era children. An elderly hermit, his grip on reality slipping away, in small town America, or the US Ambassador of a tiny Middle European country trying to save his family from the evil of the Russian Ambassador’s family next door. I have been lucky enough to attempt to get all of these fascinating personalities correct. Of course when the answers to your own research collide with the other actor’s own ideas on stage and the Director’s vision, whose job it is to meld these personalities and talents together to come up with an understandable final presentation, then the real fun begins. But ‘Carmichael’ is someone completely different. While playing his ‘external life’ is complicated enough, what is going on inside his head is a completely different ‘suitcase full of hands’. Yes, you read that right.

How has he got through life without a left hand? That was question number one for me. I haven’t had to play anyone with a physical defect before, and I am daily practicing doing everything right-handed, to make it look as second nature as possible. But how does it feel? How can have something taken from you early in life, affect a person so deeply that it becomes his sole reason for living? Why has he devoted his life to searching the USA, Quixote-like, to the exclusion of everything else in his life: A Wife, children, Insurance, a Pension Plan, anything. Why does he feel the need to be armed at all times? Why is he so racist? And why does he have such a soft spot for the correct use of the English Language, when his own particular brand of English is definitely ‘profane’?

As I write this, we are one month away from opening night. I have a feeling that my questions won’t be answered, even when the run is over. Thanks to a talented cast, director, and management team at Little Mountain Lion Productions, I am getting closer: A chain-smoking, one-handed American killer, with a nasty taste in revenge and torture. Oh, and he’s a very funny guy, too…and he loves his Mother!

If you would like to meet him, and answer some questions for yourself…….

Steve James is a working actor located in Vancouver BC. You can follow Steve through his website at: http://www.stevejames.ca/