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 22, 2019
Today’s person: James Carpenter!
While an apprentice at Berkeley Shakespeare Festival I was given a tiny role in their production “Henry V,” but my two lines were to Jim Carpenter as Henry. I’d seen Jim in a few shows, and was always struck by his intense focus. That same year. I was an acting intern at Berkeley Rep and saw “Blue Window,” where he spent a whole scene riveted on a single chess move, barely talking. As Henry V he was majestic, but also kind and considerate. And tough. During a fight call before a show an actor’s sword slipped and caught Jim under the chin, slitting it open. Lotsa blood, no time for stitches. So some quick whatever they did to stop the bleeding, and on with the show...and by Agincourt blood was running down his neck. And bow. Focused.
Jim was another one of those Bay Area acting legends I never thought I would be friends with. He was just too magnificent. I’ve seen him in so many shows, and each time he’s been painfully good. Even when he’s not bleeding. Like in “The Resting Place” at the Magic this season. Unbelievably good. Whatever he does he pours his whole generous heart into it, and it’s like he’s pouring some (totally biodegradable, environmentally friendly) luminescence into a deep, quiet lake on a moonless night, making not only the lake glow with brilliance but illuminating everything fortunate enough to surround it. Again, totally environmentally safe, but amazing.
After Jim read one of the roles in a play of mine he sent me an email about how much the role meant to him, how it touched him... and some notes. I was so grateful he shared both his thoughts and feelings about this role and play, but also I got to glimpse again how deeply he enters into the world of every play - and how deeply he lets them into him. He is an actor’s actor.