Playing The Abuser

The following reflection was written in 2003, when I was between 25 and 26 years old.

At some point in the Fall, Sean Baptiste had brought a woman he worked with in Newburyport to campus so she could cast Bradford actors in a play she was producing on domestic abuse. She was actually assembling a second cast because the play toured around and the first cast (of which Sean was a part) couldn’t handle all the dates. Needless to say, I auditioned.

And, I got the part.

The others who got parts included two underclassmen whose names I can’t remember, and my good friend Larsen. At first we were all into it, but as our debut grew nearer, we all found that the off-campus rehearsals were too much to bear.

I was always committed to it, even when I had to get up extra early one Sunday morning to rehearse before my Shakespeare class’s field trip to Cambridge to see The Taming of the Shrew. I think I was the only actor to show up.

The part I played is also something worth noting. Shy old Chris Clark was playing the part of the worst abuser of the bunch. The play revolved around three abusers recounting their tales and I was the worst one, the total psychopath. It was a complete stretch and I think that’s why I dug the challenge of it.

One of my favorite memories of this production that never was, involves a trip out to the prep school our director taught at. As an exercise, she had me yell at a chair to focus my anger. I was supposed to imagine someone I was angry at sitting there. It really helped me get in touch with the character.

Another time, me and a member of the original cast drove with the director into Boston to meet with a group of women from a women’s empowerment class. These women were tough and intense and the idea was that we were going to bring them in on certain productions to show girls how to defend themselves physically and verbally if they ever ran into people like the characters we were playing.

The member of the original cast, who played the same role as me, could hold his own against them, but these women completely intimidated me.

Eventually the play just fell apart. Nobody else wanted to do it and we were all getting busy with the end of the semester. I regret that it never came to fruition, because I would have been a much better actor for having finally gotten on stage and playing this role.