Post #2: Mister Roberts

Jon Purcell Saves the Day: Another
Seafaring Tale of Mister Roberts

Like snowflakes, no two directors are exactly alike. And that’s one of the more exciting aspects of acting: each director I work under helps uncover a new facet of myself as a performer and helps push me to the next level as I continue to build my “career” in the city. I had some difficulty developing my character this time around because Susie, the director of Mister Roberts, wanted me to play more broadly than I’m used to.

Most of my theatrical experience has been at a theatre company where realism, subtlety, and naturalism were stressed. After four years with them, I had the “broadness” drilled right out of me. For the most part, any extreme or broad idea I had for a character since then was immediately squashed by me because a little voice in my head told me that it was too big and a real person would not behave like that.

So I strove for a realistic Wiley, while Susie would tell me, “Be bigger, Chris. Have more fun with it.” But I had forgotten what it meant to be bigger. On Monday night, that all changed as my saving grace appeared in the form of Jon Purcell and his take on Ensign Pulver. When I saw him bouncing around the stage, full of manic energy, I had another acting epiphany and I so love those moments.

While theatrical, Jon’s interpretation made complete sense and I finally remembered what being bigger meant. And I knew if he could be that big, then I could do so too. Last night, we did my problem scene once more and this time I was huge and felt a real sense of satisfaction and began to revel in being broad.

So thank you, Jon, for inspiring me to new heights. And thank you, Susie, for giving me the chance to be bigger.

Until the next time, of course.

--submitted by Chris Elston, a cast member of Mister Roberts

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