“I look for inspiration everywhere and in everything.”
by Gabby Lamm
Gilbert Glenn Brown and Theodore Perkins co-star with Matthew Hancock in The Fountain Theatre’s Los Angeles Premiere of The Brothers Size by Tarell Alvin McCraney. Gilbert and Theo both appeared in The Fountain’s In the Red and Brown Water and Gilbert was also seen in Live From Death Row: The Scottsboro Boys.
GABBY LAMM: Where are you from? How did you end up in Los Angeles?
THEO PERKINS: I was born and raised in Elizabeth, New Jersey. After I completed my bachelors at Morehouse College in Atlanta, I entered the MFA Acting program at UCLA.
GILBERT GLENN BROWN: Originally from New York City, born in Brooklyn, grew up in Queens and the Bronx.
GABBY: At what point did you realize you wanted to be an actor?
GILBERT: I’ve always been a creative person, from drawing my own comic books, writing stories and scripts, but the real bug came, while I was in high school, one of my teachers saw something in me and challenged me to explore it. Then almost as if by design, a youth theatre company called PYT (Positive Youth Troupe) from the Mind-Builders Creative Arts Center in the Bronx, performed at my school. The musical performance used the voice of the youth to uplift and empower and I thought to myself “Wow. Yeah, I can do that.”
THEO: I actually knew at an early age. I was in the 5th grade when my school choir got the chance to audition for a Broadway musical. At that point, I had no acting experience. A bunch of us got cast and I had no idea what I was in for. It didn’t hit me until our first preview performance. But I knew that feeling was something I would never let go.
GABBY: Who inspires you?
THEO: Just about anyone who can tell a good story.
GILBERT: Honestly, I look for inspiration everywhere and in everything. I’m bit of a history person, I know that stand on the shoulders of so many that have paved the way I look to and honor them. I also look at my parents, coming to the States from Jamaica with little or nothing and building a base here.
GABBY: If you could meet anyone from history, who would it be and why?
THEO: Basquiat. I’d love to compare ideas on art and survival.
GABBY: You have worked in many different types of media, including television, film, and theatre. Do you have a preference?
GILBERT: No not particularly, I’m an artist having the ability to create to share what I do with world and utilizing the transformative power of each of these arenas is very important to me.
THEO: I do not have a preference. I enjoy the process of discovery and collaboration that comes with opening a play. I get that in film as well. Not so much when doing a guest role on TV.
GABBY: How does working at The Fountain compare to working at other theatres?
GILBERT: At The Fountain there is a community, a family aspect, that is truly beautiful. You see the artistic director, you know the producer, you are connected to the entire team and they all have a major interest and investment in you as the artist beyond the project of the moment, which is quite unique. The fact that they choose take on challenging pieces, not shying away from the controversial or taboo topics, giving voice to new and at times unheard voices.
THEO: There’s an atmosphere of “family” at the Fountain. On top of that, at the Fountain, I feel extremely safe as an actor. Safe to take risks, safe to trust that the risks I take are in good hands …. safe. And they have the dopest balcony, where I spend most of my time pre-show.
GABBY: The Brothers Size and In The Red and Brown Water are two shows from The Brother/Sister Plays trilogy by Tarell Alvin McCraney. How was your experience different in each show?
THEO: The cast of Red/Brown was much larger. We really were a community. In Brothers Size, it’s just the three of us. The dynamics shift and we become our own community.
GILBERT: The work was no less challenging but in ITRABW you had the benefit of 9 other cast/community members to work with. In this it’s just 3 of us and the audience. With ITRABW we have more time to delve into the water and explore a bit more, in TBS you just have to buckle up and hang on for the ride! They exist in the same location, but clearly 2 different worlds.
GABBY: Theo, you play the same character in The Brothers Size as you did in In The Red and Brown Water. What was it like playing the same character for two separate shows?
THEO: Somewhat challenging. In Red/Brown, we see Elegba as child through adolescence. In Brothers Size, Elegba is an adult. The wants, tactics, obstacles have all matured. It was cool having a prior understanding of Elegba as “deity.” That helped a lot in this process. But the challenge came in having to grow the character “up.” Discovering the new body and mind. It’s hard to let go of physical and mental traits of a character after a process like Red/Brown. But McCraney does a great job in laying down new circumstances that makes the bridge easy to connect.
GABBY: And Gilbert, you play different characters in The Brothers Size and In The Red and Brown Water. What was it like exploring a new character in the series?
Gilbert Glenn Brown
GILBERT: It was schizophrenic!! Here I am having played both my friend and adversary. I went in with the intention to make Ogun honest and real and completely different from Shango [Brown’s character in In the Red and Brown Water], yet honor the history. Yes they were friends then “frenemies,” and they were different men, different energies, different temperaments, different orishas yet connected. I’ll admit there were moments in the rehearsal process where I as Ogun would be talking about myself as Shango and would almost have an overload! I am so thankful for Shirley Jo, seeing this and addressing it early on. It was great challenge and wonderful opportunity that few performers get to experience and I love it! It truly challenged me in ways unexpected but thoroughly and humbly, appreciated. As an artist that’s what you want. Raise the bar. Challenge. I stand transformed.
GABBY: If you were stranded on a deserted island, what is one thing you’d like to have with you?
GILBERT: Hmmmm, I guess it would have to be pen/pencil and paper, lil bit of a survivalist, I’m sure I can live off the land. But being able to document and create is so necessary.
GABBY: If you were a superhero, what superpower would you like to have?
GILBERT: Wow. I guess it would be to fly.
GABBY: If you could shoot anything out of your belly button, what would it be and why?
THEO: Assorted alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. I would be the life of ANY party!
GABBY: Anything else you’d like to say to the wonderful readers of The Fountain blog?
GILBERT: Thank you for supporting theatre and please come out and experience our show and all upcoming productions at the fearless Fountain Theatre. You will be transformed.
The Brothers Size Now to July 27th (323) 663-1525 MORE