My Review of A Soldiers Play w/Interview with Justin Smith

On March 9, 2012 at 8 p.m., the curtains (figure of speech) went up on the performance of A Soldiers Play. There were twelve members of the cast of which three were white men. The remainder were black men. The cast is as follows:

Sgt. Vernon C. Waters Mel Hancock
Capt. Charles Taylor Nick Pascarella
Cpl. Bernard Cobb Justin Smith
Pfc. Melvin Peterson Steve Allen
Cpl. Ellis Richard Desert
Pvt. Louis Henson Rahiem Wilson Morgan
Pvt. James Wilkie William White
Pvt. Tony Smalls Philip Gist
Capt. Richard Davenport George Robert
Pvt. CJ Memphis Dante Orlando Brown
Lt. Byrd Matthew Masiello
Capt. Wilcox Nick Byrne

Setting: Fort Neal, Louisiana. 1944

Synopsis of play
This play was about the murder of Sgt. Waters committed on the grounds of the fort where the black barracks were. No one had seen the killer nor apparently knew who would do it. There were many possible persons who could have committed the crime. But none had solved it. The unit was run by a white man, Capt. Charles Taylor. He was a white man who commanded a unit of black baseball players. And then the jag officer came who had lobbied to get this case. He interviewed all of the unit that he was able to plus the two white officers who fought him on the same day that he died; but didn’t kill him. No, I won’t tell you who did kill him but I think that you should go and see it.

The play is completed on one stage, a small stage where there is one set used for the whole production. It is held in Elmwood Playhouse located at 10 Park Street, Nyack, New York. According to the play bill:

The Elmwood Community Playhouse is a not-for-profit community theatre that be has been ….[there]…. for 65 years. It is a 99 seat theatre, with “rehearsal studios, an administrative office a large scene building shop and storage facilities for sets, lighting equipment, costumes and props.” It runs 6 productions a year and they each run for four or five weekends. You can read the rest of their information if you go to the production and pick up a playbill.

Interview with Justin Michael Cobb
1. What is your full name, age and birth date?
My name is Justin Michael Smith, 29, and born on August 15, 1982.

2. What are your parents names.
Richard and Amy Smith.

3 & 4. Do you have any brothers or sisters. If so, what are there names.
I have four other brothers and sisters. Their names are: Scott, Jessica, Mark and Deidra. I am the oldest and the youngest is 19.

5. What is your educations background.
I finished highschool and jumped around but did obtain my associates degree in Communications.

6 & 7. How and why did you decide to become an actor.
I want to be a novelist. I have always written poems. If I had my choice I would do sports centered journalism.

8. To For A Soldiers Play, how did you pick this play?
My father had told me about it; and there was an invite through Facebook to other young black actors. So I went to read for the part. I missed the first day of auditions. I had in mind a specific part but I read for a different couple of parts because that was how the director was doing it. I went for the first read through and got the call back for a second read through which again I read for different parts. And then it took one week for them to get back to me that I could have the part of Cobb and I accepted the part.

9. How did prepare for the part.
Before he gave books of the play, I read the play in the library and I did what the director didn’t want me to. I watched the movie. And the reason the director doesn’t like the movie.

10. What part did you like the best and the worst of the play.
The best part was my monologue with CJ Memphis when he was in jail and I don’t have any one that I would call the worst.

11. What are you looking to do after this play?
I want to go back for my bachelors. I also want to do more plays and focus on my writing.

12 & 13. Were you ever enlisted in the armed forces? And if so, why or why not?
No, Im not fitted for it.

14. In his Wikipedia, they have a quote for an interview with Charles Fuller in 1982 whcih states, and I quote:

“My argument is on the stage. I don’t have to be angry. OK? I get it all out right up there. There’s no reason to carry this down from the stage and into the seats. And it does not mean that I am not enraged at injustice or prejudice or bigotry. It simply mean that I cannot be enraged all the time to spend one’s life being angry and in the process doing nothing to change it. is to me ridiculous. I could be made all day long; but if I’m not doing a damn thing. What difference does it make?

What does that quote mean to you and do you think it explains the play?
Yes, it explains play through his sharp commentary is within the pages. It was a note on how he feels. He is channeling the frustration in a real positive way to change people’s mindsets.

16 & 17. Where do you currently reside and do you like it?
I live in Rockland County and I love it because its rich in culture. My girlfriend also lives here.

18. To end the interview, I wanted to ask you if you like being on stage as oppose to the screen? Have you acted on screen?
For my acting I am more suited to the stage than the screen.

My Review of Play
My impression of the play was it was well acted for those who weren’t big name actors. And it was all done on one set so the actors actually became the stage hands throughout the play. An ingenious way to move the set for a play without taking time in between the sets. I think the acoustics were well because you could always hear the actors. I think the parts were well played if a bit overplayed at some parts. I didn’t like the gunshot sound though. Hurt my ears. Reminds me of the sound I heard while in my bedroom at home one night way early in the morning. Freaked me out because I thought someone had shot someone. The costumes were nice. The actors were cute some of them and others not so cute. There was a really cute actor in there. But sorry ladies, he’s taken.

The play runs two hours and there is a fifteen minute intermission. There are three bathrooms downstairs and a concession stand outside the theatre. So I hope you like it if you choose to go.


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