I begin the show as Stanford White who is part of the New Rochelle contingent for the opening act. As a famous architect White is brimming with pomp and pride. The world is going his way and he likes it. He knows that he is the ‘cream’ of the crop. White also has a weakness for young adolescent girls. He seeks to create and cultivate only the most beautiful of things and Evelyn Nesbit is his current prize. He also underestimates Harry k. Thaw’s insanity until it is too late.
As an actor I need to remember to do the following things when I am playing Stanford White in the opening act:
– During our first verse of singing, I must remember to do the New Rochelle choreography which begins with the sway to the right on ‘And there was distant music…’
– Time the chase with Thaw such that I end up on the stairs just in time for Thaw to shoot me. And when I get shot, the first shot I take is in the back and that requires the appropriate back spasm.
– During the third silence in the dance sequence, I should show the disgust and anger I have, as a New Rochelle person, when facing off with a man from Harlem and an immigrant fresh off the boat.
My most prominent character is Willie Conklin. Besides the American movies that I have seen, I have very little ability, as a foreigner, to really appreciate the gravity of the words Conklin uses. The word ‘Nigger’ for example is part of a culture and world that I have no familiarity with. However, I do have a familiarity the kind of insecure self- righteousness that comes with ignorance and prejudice. I have an uncle in Australia who displays a similar kind of arrogance and prejudice that Conklin shows towards African-Americans except my uncle focuses on women like my Aunties and my Mother. When playing Willie Conklin, I need to remember my uncle’s attitude and I think I will be able to capture that self-assured racism.
In the penultimate scene Willie Conklin is brought to and physically held at the J.P Morgan Library. He is nervous at first. He doesn’t know what is going to happen to him and he is scared he might be sacrificed to Coalhouse. As the discussion goes on he calms down and realizes he might not be at risk after all. Upon seeing Coalhouses men leave with younger brother, he knows he is no longer in danger and he resumes his cocky assuredness. When he sees Coalhouse and the rifle men, he feels good and knows that his justice has been served.