Since far too often we only publicly say nice things about people when they are dead I’ve decided to randomly pick a Facebook friend every day and say something nice about them.
May 13, 2019
Today's person: Robert Libetti!
When our son was not yet one year old Velina and I were cast in a stage adaptation of the epic poem “ John Brown’s Body” at Denver Theatre Center. We were thrilled to be in a big regional world premiere, and equally thrilled to get to know such an interesting, passionate company of talented professionals and students.
After opening I got a call from Amos Glick, who had been in touch with Tim Robbins about the possibility of a Mime Troupe/Actors Gang co-production. When that didn’t seem a possibility Tim asked Amos off-handedly if the Troupe’s writer had any non-Troupe scripts, and Amos said yes - an un-produced adaptation of Orwell’s 1984, and that I could send it right away. Amos then called me in Denver, which meant I had to finish the damned script fast! So I organized a reading with this group of actors I hardly knew.
And among them was a student, Robert Libetti.
The Denver Center was also the National Theatre Center, which meant they had tis pool of dynamic, fun young actors, and all the actors did wonderful interpretations of the characters, but Libetti redefined the role of Party Member #3 for me. Every other actor put together a character was clear and what I wanted, but Robert’s vision, his intensity, his just below the surface disgust with the thought criminal Winston combined with a vulnerability made me see all the Party Members in a different way. His Party Member was angry because he was struggling with the temptation of his humanity, he used his scorn to dismiss something that was buried within himself. I’d written the character as a the most brutal of functionaries but Robert’s reading made him the most tortured, most human. He could have played a villain, but instead he played a person.
His reading that night changed the character and the play for me. And while I have no intention of sharing my royalties with him I will be forever grateful to him.