Actor among College Students Given Nod to Compete for Irene Ryan Acting Award
Due to his fear of heights, Alex LaClair, of La Plata, almost didnt get the role of ironworker Mike Dillard in the CSM fall production of Working.
The character, with a recurring role in the play, had to scale a ladder up to a structure resembling a steel girderand stay there, 15 feet in the air, throughout the show, LaClair said. LaClair researched the life of an ironworker to perform in the role of the unhappy worker who welds together stories about people and their jobs based on Chicago radio broadcaster Studs Terkels book by the same name.
Not only did LaClair earn the role, and climb the ladder for six shows, his performance got the notice of members of the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) nominating committee who chose him to compete with more than 250 other thespians for the Irene Ryan Acting Award.
This was LaClairs second appearance at the KCACTF in three years and his most productive. He auditioned for the Music Theatre Initiative and the New Playwright Program, and he wrote and directed The War of Rose Cycle in One Act for Devised Theatre.
For the Irene Ryan Award competition, with a prize of a $500 scholarship, LaClair asked fellow CSM thespian Jeremy Hunter, of La Plata, to be his acting partner. For the dramatic reading, the two performed a scene from Mark Turvins Selective Memory.
With LaClair performing as son and Hunter as father, the two begin with a passive-aggressive dialogue that quickly moves to an explosive, tension-filled screaming match of repressed emotions. The performance advanced LaClair to the semi-final comedic round where he and Hunter performed a scene from Tom Rooneys Flaming Idiots. This time as postal workers who buy a restaurant unknowingly on the wrong side of town, the two discuss how to drum up business by replicating a mob hit that proved profitable for their nemesis restaurant across town.
LaClair said he is happy to have been among the 32 actors who advanced to the semi-finals even though he was not chosen to compete in the finals monologues.
With a film degree from the Boston University Center for Digital Imaging Arts satellite campus in Washington, D.C., LaClair creates video trailers for CSM theatrical productions when he is not working as a freelance videographer. He ventured into acting by participating in community theater which in turn led to CSM. He is working on an associate degree in theater.
In March, LaClair and Hunter will be among 30 students, from a pool of 270 Southeastern college applicants, traveling to Mobile, Ala., to participate in professional acting auditions that cast summer stock and longer-run shows.
LaClair will perform in CSMs production of Elephants Graveyard, 7:30 p.m., Feb. 20 and 27; 8 p.m., Feb. 21, 22; 8 p.m., Feb. 28-March 1 at CSM La Plata Campus Fine Arts Center. The play is the true tale of the tragic collision of a struggling circus and a tiny town in Tennessee, which resulted in the only known lynching of an elephant. Set in September 1916, the play combines historical fact and legend, exploring the deep-seated American craving for spectacle, violence and revenge.
For information about CSMs theater programs, visit www.csmd.edu/Arts.
To view LaClairs video on the CSM production of Fences, visit https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=3315003435301&set=vb.1274657317&type=3&theater
CSM Theatre Company: Elephants Graveyard. 7:30 p.m., Feb. 20 and 27; 8 p.m., Feb. 21, 22; 8 p.m., Feb. 28-March 1, College of Southern Maryland, Fine Arts Center, 8730 Mitchell Road, La Plata. “Elephant's Graveyard” is the true tale of the tragic collision of a struggling circus and a tiny town in Tennessee, which resulted in the only known lynching of an elephant. Set in September 1916, the play combines historical fact and legend, exploring the deep-seated American craving for spectacle, violence and revenge. Presented through special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc. $15 adults, $12 military/seniors/youth. firstname.lastname@example.org, call 301-934-7828, www.csmd.edu/Arts.